WTVI is now WTVI-PBS Charlotte. That’s because the station will be carrying more PBS programming like new Masterpiece shows including Downton Abbey and Sherlock. And it won’t have to air PBS programs on a delay like it did before under its previous agreement with PBS.
Central Piedmont Community College’s Jeff Lowrance says that’s what’s popular with Charlotte viewers. CPCC took over WTVI in July. The station had been struggling financially for years. Lowrance says these changes are being made after reviewing the results of an online poll it sent out to current and former members as well as local organizations.
“Going on what our viewers told us that they wanted to see, which was more PBS programming plus more local programming, we think that we’re able to combine both very well with this approach," Lowrance says.
So in some ways WTVI will be harder to distinguish from UNC-TV and SCETV, the other two PBS stations in the Charlotte market.
But Lowrance says the local programming is what makes WTVI-PBS Charlotte different. The new schedule will feature six local programs Thursday nights and will include a local reporter’s roundtable, called “Off the Record,” as part of its news programming on Friday nights. General manager David Rhew will host the program.
The programming changes come with a cost. The station will have to pay PBS an additional $200,000 to become a full affiliate.
Kathy Drumm is CPCC’s executive vice president. She says the station will continue to be supported by viewers. It will be considered a "self-supporting unit" of the college, so expected to raise funds from membership drives, grants and underwriting.
She’s hoping to attract new viewers and hopefully more members. The station now has about 7,000 members, down from a peak of about 20,000 just a few years ago.