Tiny Minnesota town told it might lose Public TV

People in Orr, Minn., are about to lose their access to Public Television in an apparent funding dispute.

Current, the public media trade newspaper, says a translator which supplied signals from Duluth PBS station WDSE, as well as Duluth ABC and Fox affiliates, was shut down temporarily in April.

A community group formed to bring TV to the rural area says it decided to stop relying only on Orr property tax assessments to function. It has previously also gotten support from neighboring Leiding, Minn., which stopped contributing in 2012.

Now, the group needs $12,000 to operate and $7,000 to paint a transmitter tower to satisfy the Federal Aviation Administration.

It apparently doesn’t have the money.

Duluth’s Fox and ABC stations agreed to chip in to restore the translator service, but Current says WDSE, the Public TV station in Duluth, declined.

While the refeed of WDSE was off the air, Minneonto aired a message telling viewers how to contact the Duluth station if they wanted the broadcast to resume. “Let PBS know If ‘YOU’ care,” the slide read. “Or Kiss It ‘Good-By’ forever.”

Regardless, [WDSE GM Allen]Harmon proposed in a May 26 email to [Minneonto Secretary and Treasurer Curt] Glass that WDSE-WRPT would give Minneonto $150 per month for up to three months “in order to provide for the temporary continuation of service to our viewers while Minneonto TV II seeks sustainable funding.” Minneonto would be required to describe its progress toward finding sustainable funding on a monthly basis. It would also have to submit an income statement and balance sheet.

The board of Saint Louis County is offering $1,800 a year to provide the TV service, but only if the Duluth public station provides matching financial support, according to Saint Louis County commissioner Tom Rukavina.