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Broadcast Non-profit Faces Tower Eviction

ALEXANDRIA, MINN.: Folks relying on free over-the-air television in this central Minnesota town soon may have just one channel if the local TV authority can’t come up with the money to pay a huge increase on tower rent.

Selective TV is a local non-profit formed 30 years ago to provide multiple free channels over the air. The community would otherwise have only one over-the-air station—KSAX-TV, a satellite for KSTP-TV, the ABC affiliate for Minneapolis, owned by the Hubbard family. Selective aggregates 19 channels, including several other Minneapolis network affiliates as well as cable channels like Discovery, Hallmark, History and others, and provides them free for residents.

Selective is licensed under FCC low-power rules and transmits the channels on UHF. For years, according to The Osakis Review, the organization paid just $1,440 a year on the five acres of land where its TV tower is located. A new management agency came in a year ago and upped the fee to $70,000. After negotiating with the agency for the ensuing period, the Selective board managed to get a four-year contract for $10,000 the first year; $12,000 the second; and $14,000 the third and fourth.

Selective board member, Noel Rich, told the newspaper that the new contract, “definitely changed our budget. Our budget is out the window.”

The group doesn’t charge subscriptions, but only takes contributions and therefore can’t rely on a revenue base. It asks for around $80 a year from people who use it. Provision costs around $3,500 a month.

If Selective can’t come up with the money to pay the land lease, it may either have to shut down or try to move its tower at an estimated cost of $500,000--providing there’s a place to move it to.

Selective is taking donations at:
Selective TV, Inc.
P.O. Box 665
Alexandria, MN 56308 

--Deborah D. McAdams