More – or less – than it seems: For the past two years, Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s expenses have been greater than its revenues. At least on paper. A chart published as a sidebar to a Dec. 16 Morning Sentinel story on a forum public broadcasting executives held in Waterville indicated MPBN is in its second year of running deficits.
According to that chart, the state’s public TV and radio stations came up short by nearly $1 million in 2007 and $2 million in 2008. Those numbers also appear in MPBN’s annual reports.
John Isacke, the network’s chief financial officer, said the negative bottom line is the result of the way MPBN handles depreciation of its equipment. In each of the past two years, public broadcasting has had larger-than-normal write-offs on its old gear, as analog devices were replaced with new digital transmission equipment. In addition, the network wrote off $1.25 million in 2008 as a result of transferring a building in Bangor it no longer needed back to the University of Maine.
Isacke said that without the paper losses caused by those changes, MPBN actually had an $800,000 surplus in ’07 and was “marginally in the black” in ’08. The weaker showing this year resulted from a big hit taken by MPBN’s endowment fund, which grew by $400,000 in 2007, but lost $300,000 in 2008, due to the stock market meltdown.
Definitely less than it seems: That accounting mumbo-jumbo is nothing compared to the answers one gets when questioning Time Warner Cable’s programming changes. The company has been sending out postcards to customers in Franklin, Somerset and northern Kennebec counties informing them of the altered lineup of channels they’ll be receiving starting Dec. 22.
In most cases, TV watchers in those areas will be getting less than they do now. In Somerset County, for instance, Time Warner will no longer offer WPME-TV from Portland. Cable company spokesman Peter DeWitt initially claimed the loss of some stations was due to a “new set of rules and guidelines.”
Whose rules and guidelines?
Well, Time Warner’s, apparently. “We’re making a decision to remove duplicative programming in certain cases,” DeWitt said.
He said no customers would lose “any access to prime-time programming” from any network. But that doesn’t mean those shows will be shown in prime time. MY TV programs that currently run on WPME will be available on WFVX, the Fox affiliate in Bangor, but only late at night, long after prime time is over.
And DeWitt admitted that even though Time Warner will be delivering fewer stations, it won’t be charging any less. “The price,” he said, “will remain the same.”
Definitely more than it is: On Dec. 15, the Portland Press Herald ran an editorial urging the rest of the state not to take advantage of Portland because the city’s legislative delegation is mostly young and inexperienced. The piece argues that the city is the state’s “economic engine,” powering job growth and development throughout Maine.
The editorial concludes, “Portland should have 187 legislators who are looking out for its interests.”
The Maine Legislature consists of 186 legislators.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at email@example.com.