WSIU/Network Knowledge Partnership FAQ

Oct 26, 2018

Learn more about the exciting partnership between WSIU Public Broadcasting and Network Knowledge which will provide our audiences with an even greater variety of original content, expanded coverage of state government and politics, and opportunities for people to engage with the PBS content they love.

Q: Why are WSIU Public Broadcasting and Network Knowledge entering into this partnership?

A. Combining our resources will pave the way for long-term sustainability of both stations while providing the full range of top-tier PBS programming, delivered across a wide range of digital platforms, to almost two-thirds of the state, reaching approximately five-million residents across 67 counties.

Together we can provide our audiences with an even greater variety of original content, on the air and on demand, including expanded coverage of state government and politics, while creating new opportunities for people to access and engage with the PBS content they love.

Students at SIU will benefit from enhanced experiential learning opportunities associated with the partnership while SIU will be better positioned for delivering on its educational mission through its service region that includes central, western, and southern Illinois.

We also look forward to growing partnership opportunities with public and private businesses and organizations, which will better position us to address the educational needs of the region and to facilitate greater community engagement around key issues.

Q: Will this new partnership affect how I currently watch, or the channels I watch on?

A: WSIU and Network Knowledge will continue to operate five PBS channels with distinct call letters: WSIU Carbondale, WUSI Olney, WSEC Springfield/Jacksonville, WMEC Macomb, and WQEC Quincy. No channel numbers or viewing locations will change as a result of the partnership.

Q: How will this partnership specifically benefit viewers and communities?

A. Additional benefits will include a full-time dedicated PBS KIDS Channel, via TV and live streaming on digital platforms; expanded access to Illinois PBS LearningMedia, a free online resource offering K-12 educators thousands of curriculum-aligned digital resources for the classroom; Ready to Learn resources featuring research-based programs, mobile apps, and online games; local community engagement featuring film screenings and discussions of PBS films; and PBS Passport, a member benefit offering extended access to an on-demand library of PBS and PBS KIDS programming.

Q: What happens to Network Knowledge?

A. The founding President of Network Knowledge, Dr. Jerald Gruebel, is retiring in November 2018. As part of his succession plan, and in order to ensure the continuation of public television service for western and central Illinois, Network Knowledge will form a strategic partnership with WSIU Public Broadcasting to expand public media across the state. In order to take advantage of operational efficiencies and thereby enhance program offerings and services, certain assets including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadcast licenses of Network Knowledge along with some transmission equipment will be transferred to Southern Illinois University. With revenue generated through these efficiencies, enhanced donor support, and various operating grants, Southern Illinois University (SIU) will acquire the broadcast assets of Network Knowledge after the close.

Q: Doesn’t a large partnership like this usually mean less personalized or local service?

A. To the contrary. By combining technology and creating efficiencies in back-office operations, more resources will be made available for local programming, outreach, and educational activities. Expanded choices from national program providers will also result. Look for more details in the months ahead.

Q: What happens to my membership?

A. For now, everything stays as it is. If you are a donor to either station, thank you! Your gift will continue to support quality public television programming in your area. We will announce any changes as soon as they are finalized.

Q: How and when will this new partnership be implemented?

A. Upon final assignment by the FCC, the Network Knowledge stations in Springfield/Jacksonville, Quincy, and Macomb will join WSIU Public Broadcasting as licensees of the SIU Board of Trustees. Each station will maintain its individual call letters. It is anticipated the transition will begin in November 2018.

Q: Will you create a new organization and what will it be named?

A. Plans to more fully integrate the stations and to create a unified brand identity are in development. Additional details about the partnership and organizational structure will be finalized in the coming months. Stay tuned to WSIU and WSEC/WMEC/WQEC for updates on the air and online at wsiu.org and networkknowledge.tv.

Q: Where will this organization be based and who will lead it?

A. Current offices and production studios will remain in place to serve as headquarters for local programming and outreach initiatives. Broadcast technical operations will be streamlined through a centralized, state-of-the-art master control facility at SIU Carbondale. Greg Petrowich, Executive Director of WSIU Public Broadcasting, will oversee the combined organization.

Q. How will this partnership be funded and will it affect existing staff positions?

A. The two station groups already generate significant external funding through generous donations, corporate support, federal and state agency grants, and support from Southern Illinois University. These funding streams will continue and some will expand through new offerings and opportunities. Most of the staff positions will remain, although some people may retrain and migrate to different activities as the needs and priorities of the partnership evolve.

Q. How will this partnership affect the programs I enjoy on my local PBS station?

A. There are no immediate plans to change current programming schedules. Our goal is to serve you better by expanding programming and service options – from adding new PBS programs and a dedicated PBS KIDS Channel to developing locally-relevant programs and community engagement activities that address the people, places, interests, and issues of our region.

Q. How can individual viewers and organizations contribute to the success of this new public media enterprise?

A. Gifts in support of this exciting new partnership can be made online at either wsiu.org or networkknowledge.tv