BY BRYCE GUERRERO
Guam Educational Telecommunications Corp., which does business as KGTF-TV Channel 12, is Guam’s local Public Broadcasting Service.
Guam’s PBS station was initially funded by a $150,000 grant from the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare, along with $50,000 from the government of Guam in 1970.
In 1974, the Guam Legislature passed a public law creating a nonprofit public corporation and put in place a board of trustees.
Initially, PBS Guam was staffed by five employees and had a programming day of four and a half hours Monday through Friday. Today, the station is staffed by 23 employees and broadcasts 18 hours per day, seven days per week.
“It’s so invigorating that there’s something as potent as noncommercial, educational programming and a facility for it,” said Darryl Taggerty, general manager for KGTF.
He described the station as an autonomous agency, with support from the government.
“We’re a GovGuam agency, but only partially […] the government of Guam only pays for nine positions. All the other positions are paid by grants and donations, corporate support,” he said.
Because the government pays the salaries for less than half of the staff, Taggerty said finding funds is very challenging.
“We have to hustle to raise money as a nonprofit on this island, to do what we need to do. And we have to pay competitive wages to attract qualified people to be in positions. We don’t have the flexibility of being a private company because we’re a government agency and we’re noncommercial. […] We can’t sell commercial space.”
One of the sources of funding for KGTF is a community service grant. Additional sources of funding come from corporate donations, production work and even individual donations.
“These companies give us thousands of dollars to support our programming, and so we thank them,” Taggerty said.
Concerning individual donors, Taggerty said the matter differs from a corporation.
“It is a matter of pride on the part of the giver, to be associated with the station. And they see that we are providing a valued service. So we are very happy to accept their donations,” he said.
KGTF is also able to make a profit when a certain event calls for production help. If the event is public, the station is mandated to broadcast it for free; however, if the event is private, KGTF is able to charge for their service. The station’s capabilities are vast, according to Taggerty, and a lot of their broadcasting equipment is mobile-ready for anytime the station needs to broadcast from the field.
As far as programming goes, KGTF boasts the strongest transmitter on the island to effectively broadcast their shows. The station receives programming through its satellite dish, which is trimmed and set into an automated schedule.
Approximately two-thirds of the stations broadcasting are targeted to children, and Taggerty said the shows are top-notch.
“Our children’s programming is the best available. Our nature programming, our drama programming — all the programming, in fact, with cable television, has sprung off entire genres of programming. You have the Discovery Channel, the History Channel — those programs were pioneered by PBS.”
Along with being broadcasted, the government requires local cable stations, such as GTA and Docomo Pacific, to carry KGTF’s PBS station.
Taggerty said his goal when taking the position approximately a year ago was to fulfill the station’s mandate “to serve the unmet broadcast needs of the community” and use the station’s broadcasting to address issues of the local community.
“PBS Guam is an educational institution like [the University of Guam], [Guam Community College], [the Department of Education] — a government-sponsored educational institution. And we’re not like them because we are a video production house, and we have distribution. […] People who are in educational situations in the public need to remember that we are a resource, a public resource that is their means, their medium for widespread distribution of their educational content.”