Educational TV Gain Cited
Second of a series
By Rowland Bond
Spokane Daily Chronicle
Spokane originally was envisioned as the educational television center for Eastern Washington.
It is the largest school district east of the Cascades and its geographic position is favorable to transmission over an area extending into Montana on the east and Oregon and British Columbia south and north.
But fate, the Federal Communications Commission and the good intentions of Columbia Basin residents interceded.
Several years before KSPS could get on the air in 1967, a private sponsor decided that if the educational programs originating from KCTS Channel 9 in Seattle were good enough for children on the West Side, then they were good enough for children in the Columbia Basin.
So the Columbia Basin Microwave Service was established, and that is how KCTS came across the mountain on Channel 9.
“The FCC required the cable service to function as a common carrier facility for any individual or organization having reception equipment,” Walter J. Schaar, general manager of KSPS, said today.
Many Receiving TV
“When we came on the air in 1967, Yakima, Ephrata, Moses Lake, Othello, Walla Walla, Pasco, Kennewick and Richland all had been using Columbia Basin Microwave for television reception. The $1.25 per pupil reception fee was shared by the microwave service and KCTS.
“Without support from those school districts for our KSPS Channel 7 service, we can’t expect to reach our potential. Fortunately, we can compete because all the fees we collect can be put back into the improvement of our offerings.”
Ephrata has brought its 1,806 pupils into the KSPS pattern and Moses Lake and Othello residents are getting Channel 7 broadcasts, although the schools need to spend approximately $6,000 each for the rewiring job that would bring the KSPS service to their classrooms and their dollar support to Spokane, Schaar said.
Other Areas Eye Service
He said there is a possibility that Walla Walla soon may become a subscriber to KSPS service, thereby bringing in an additional 6,000 students. KSPS would be brought to Walla Walla through the Pike’s Peak receiving station near Milton-Freewater. The Tri-Cities enrollment is 21,600, but nothing definite has been worked out for a changeover there, Schaar said.
Colville and Kettle Falls are getting KSPS through a community antenna system and are paying the standard fee. Communities as far away as Oliver, B.C. are getting a good signal from KSPS, but are not yet subscribers, Schaar said.
KSPS lost the Central Valley School District account when CV’s millage levy was defeated last Nov. 4, but Schaar said there is a possibility that service to the 8,000 pupils there may be resumed. The KSPS service is being received regularly by Colfax, Steptoe, Oakesdale, Garfield, Rosalia, Endicott and LaCrosse schools.
“Rising costs have made it necessary for Seattle KCTS station to increase its rates to approximately $1.35 per pupil,” Schaar said. “We are going to have to increase our rates, too, but I feel we will be able to remain in a competitive position.”
He said it’s possible that a state educational commission eventually may be established.
“Managers of the six ETV stations have met with a joint committee on education to rewrite a television bill that was unsuccessful at the last regular session of the legislature,” he said. “If it should pass, we all would receive state money for programming. It might get our costs down about half.”
Seattle now budgets $500,000 a year to educational television and Schaar foresees the possibility of total cooperation and a consequent cut in costs if production were pooled through a state commission.
“It also would insure equal opportunity for all the children in schools throughout the state,” he said. “However, I feel that development of educational television by independent districts has, in many ways, been a good thing.”
“We have developed a coverage pattern, and many small communities have arrived at the place where they have been able to see the advantages of ETV and have invested their hard-earned money in translator stations to bring the programs to their schools.”
Wednesday, March 18, 1970