By John R. Schirmer
After 25 years of broadcasting, KJEP Television of Nashville will leave the air in mid-September, according to station board president Mark Cassady.
“We will cease broadcasting Sept. 15, the day we are required to go digital,” Cassady said Monday.
The Federal Communications Commission will require the conversion to digital broadcasting, Cassady said.
“With a declining audience because TV viewers are switching to satellite, we don’t think the money to go digital is a good investment,” Cassady said.
The KJEP board unanimously voted to shut down the station, according to Cassady.
KJEP programming is available by cable TV or aerial antenna. When the station began, viewers could watch on a number of cable systems in southwest Arkansas. However, “If you drive around today and see the satellite dishes where people used to have cable, there are fewer viewers,” Cassady said.
Many of the cable systems which once carried KJEP no longer exist, according to Cassady, and more customers are choosing satellite. The result is a smaller number of viewers for the local TV station.
That decline in viewership and the requirement to convert to digital were cited as the reasons for the KJEP board’s decision to close the station, Cassady said.
Cassady said the station’s finances are stable, and board members thought the station could obtain the funds for the digital switch. However, “We also believe we should make sure changing technology has not made us obsolete before we spend this money.”
Five churches currently broadcast their services on KJEP, including Harvest Time Assembly of God in Murfreesboro and Nashville churches Immanuel Baptist, First Baptist, New Life in Jesus Christ and Ridgeway Baptist.
All of the churches were notified last week by letter that the station will shut down, Cassady said. As of Monday, none had responded.
Cassady said the board is “encouraging churches to find ways to get their services to shut-ins, nursing homes” and other viewers. Churches are also urged to make services available online.
KJEP began 25 years ago. Etheline Westbrook had the original vision for the station and secured a permit, Cassady said. She discussed the idea of a local station with Glen Power, “who got the station started – the building, the transmitter, he got things going.”
The station’s purpose was “to provide a way for local churches to broadcast their services. The station also showed local events like football games, Stand Up for America, Chamber of Commerce banquets, parades and other programs,” Cassady said.
“We hope that local events will continue to be recorded and put on church websites and other websites,” Cassady said.
Board members are considering different possibilities for disposing of the station’s equipment. “We’ll decide soon. A lot is basically obsolete, so there is no use for it,” according to Cassady.
Board members will contact the station’s attorney about the procedure for closing the station. “We think we just stop broadcasting,” Cassady said.
Members of the board include Cassady, Donny Woods, Deb Kinkade, Jerry Jacobs, James Huddleston, Kim Millwood, Tim Pinkerton, Larry Elrod, Anna Blase and David Blase. Mike Aylett is the station manager.