WSIU still working to be part of satellite’s local lineup

By Gus Bode

Satellite subscribers expecting WSIU, receiving Paducah affiliate instead

Much to the surprise of many local satellite subscribers, the local PBS affiliate, WSIU Channel 8, is still not part of the channel lineup.

According to a representative from EchoStar Communications, the DISH Network’s parent company, the sole reason WSIU is not part of the lineup is that it did not submit a written statement indicating that it wanted to be included.


Despite the fact that WSIU had established an agreement with PBS, Candis Isberner, acting director of WSIU Broadcasting, said the agreement had no impact on what happened with the DISH Network.

“We found out that even though the agreement with PBS was in writing, it didn’t have legal bearing with EchoStar,” Isberner said. “But it was understood last spring through that agreement that we wanted to be the PBS affiliate.”

Mark Lumpkin, a representative of EchoStar, said WSIU was sent a letter by certified mail in early May. WSIU did not respond to the letter which is the required response mandated by Federal Communications Commission rules.

Isberner said this occurred because the letter was purely informational. It stated that the company was going to designate a local affiliate in its package, but did not indicate that if WSIU wanted to represent PBS it needed to contact EchoStar at that time.

“We’re pretty frustrated over here,” Isberner said. “And we’re not the only station this has happened to. We have several people over here and we are all intelligent. None of us read that letter and thought it was the one we were looking out for, so we kept looking.

“I found out we had missed the window when I saw a notice in the paper that the Paducah station WKPD was going to be the affiliate.”

WSIU is still making efforts to turn things around. Isberner said the station has been in contact with Eric Sahl, the director of programming at EchoStar. He said his hands are tied because of the station’s failure to respond to the letter.


The station has also been in contact with Kentucky Educational Television.

“We’ve been trying to see if they’d be willing to let WSIU have that slot, but since they’re a big state network, it gets fairly complicated,” Isberner said.

The options for recourse are limited, and as a public television station, WSIU relies largely on viewer donations for funding. Satellite exposure would mean more viewers.

If the station’s efforts to become part of the satellite lineup remain unsuccessful, it will not have another chance to be elected as a local affiliate until December 2005.

Reporter Bertie Taylor can be reached at [email protected]