Oklahoma Educational Television Authority

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Oklahoma Educational Television Authority
Oeta.png
statewide Oklahoma
United States
City KETA-TV: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
KOED-TV: Tulsa, Oklahoma
KOET: Eufaula, Oklahoma
KWET: Cheyenne, Oklahoma
Branding OETA
Slogan The Oklahoma Network
(also the name of OETA's production/syndication unit)
Channels Digital: see table below
Subchannels see table below
Translators see table below
Affiliations PBS
Owner Oklahoma Educational Television Authority
First air date April 13, 1956; 61 years ago (1956-04-13)
Call letters' meaning see table below
Former channel number(s) see table below
Former affiliations NET (1956–1970)
Transmitter power see table below
Height see table below
Facility ID see table below
Transmitter coordinates see table below
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Educational Television Authority Profile
Educational Television Authority CDBS
Website www.oeta.tv

The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) is a state network of PBS member television stations serving the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The authority operates as a statutory corporation that holds the licenses for all of the PBS stations operating in the state; it is managed by an independent board of gubernatorial appointees, and university and education officials, which is linked to the executive branch through the Secretary of Education of the Government of Oklahoma.

In addition to offering television programs supplied by PBS and acquired from various independent distributors, the network produces news, public affairs, cultural, and documentary programming; the OETA also distributes online education programs for classroom use and teacher professional development, and maintains the state's Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) infrastructure. The OETA network's main offices and production facilities are located at the intersection of Kelley Avenue and Britton Road in northeastern Oklahoma City (adjacent to the studio facility shared by KWTV-DT and KSBI); it also maintains a satellite studio located on North Greenwood Avenue (on the campus of Oklahoma State University's extension branch) in Tulsa.

The broadcast signals of the four full-power and fifteen translator stations comprising the network cover almost all of the state, as well as fringe areas of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas near the Oklahoma state line. Its Tulsa satellite station, KOED-TV (channel 11), operates independently from KRSU-TV (channel 35) in Claremore, a non-commercial independent station owned by Rogers State University, which is the only public television station in Oklahoma that is neither associated with OETA nor is a PBS member outlet.

History[edit]

Incorporation and development[edit]

The OETA network traces its history to November 19, 1951, when a conference on the development of educational television in Oklahoma was held to direct the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to file applications with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reserve certain broadcast television frequencies in individual markets throughout Oklahoma for non-commercial educational stations.[1] Subsequently, the Oklahoma Legislature unanimously approved House Concurrent Resolution #5, a bill which urged the FCC to reserve broadcast frequencies for non-commercial use. On May 18, 1953, Oklahoma became the first state to pass legislation for the development of a statewide educational television service, when the legislature passed House Bill #1033, a bill sponsored by State Rep. W. H. Langley (D-Stilwell) and State Sen. J. Byron Dacus (D-Gotebo) that created the parent Oklahoma Educational Television Authority entity as an independent statutory corporation. The bill – which was signed by Governor Johnston Murray, after it passed the State House and Senate – charged the organization with providing educational television programming to Oklahomans on a coordinated statewide basis, made possible with cooperation from the state's educational, government and cultural agencies, under the authority's supervision and direction.[2][3]

After appointing its members, in August 1953, the OETA Board of Directors held its first meeting and began the process of forming a statewide public television network. The FCC granted a construction permit to build a television station on VHF channel 13 in Oklahoma City on December 2, 1953; it would later grant OETA a second permit to build a non-commercial station on VHF channel 11 in Tulsa on July 21, 1954. To help finance the venture, the authority was authorized to issue revenue bonds that could be redeemed with financial funding accumulated in the public building fund. However, the network would take three years to sign on its first station, as the legislature failed to appropriate funding to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority – which was incorporated under mandate – to begin operating any television stations; legislators believed that donations from private entities and the public would be able to cover the operating expenses for the upstart stations.[2][3][4]

After securing a broadcast license from the FCC, $540,000 in legislative appropriations, and private funding from various special interest groups (led by a $150,000 donation by Edward K. Gaylord [publisher of The Daily Oklahoman] and the donation of $13,000 worth of broadcasting equipment from RCA), KETA-TV in Oklahoma City – which would become the network's flagship – was finally able to sign on the air over channel 13 on April 13, 1956; at that time, KETA became the first educational television station in Oklahoma, the second to sign on in the Southwestern United States (after KUHT in Houston, which launched in May 1953 as the nation's first public television station) and the 20th non-commercial station to sign on in the United States as a whole. During its first fourteen years of operation, KETA – and later, KOED – maintained a 20-hour weekly schedule of instruction programming, broadcasting only on Monday through Friday afternoons from August through May; much of the station's programming in its early years consisted of video telecourse lectures televised in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, which offered course subjects attributable for college credit.[4][2] Channel 13 originally operated from studio facilities located on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, while its transmitter facility – which began construction on August 1, 1955 – was based in northeast Oklahoma City near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Kelley Avenue.[2] KETA – as well as the full-power repeaters it would sign on in later years – originally served as a member station of the National Educational Television and Radio Center (NETRC), which evolved into National Educational Television (NET) in 1963; programming from NET aired on KETA year-round during prime time for two hours each Monday through Friday.[4][2]

Expansion into a statewide network[edit]

The authority gradually evolved from a single station in Oklahoma's capital city into a statewide public television network, signing on three additional stations over the course of nineteen years. The first of the three satellite stations to go on the air was KOED-TV in Tulsa, a repeater of KETA that began broadcasting on channel 11, as the state's second educational television station, on January 12, 1959. When KOED – which was founded through a legislative appropriation granted to the authority – began operations, Oklahoma became the second state in the United States to have an operational educational television state network (after Alabama Educational Television, now Alabama Public Television, which began its expansion into a statewide network with the April 1955 sign-on of its second television station, WBIQ in Birmingham).[4][2]

In 1970, KETA and KOED became member stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which was launched as an independent entity to supersede NET and took over many of the functions of its predecessor network. OETA saw significant growth under the oversight of Bob Allen, who joined the network as its executive director in June 1972 after leaving his role as director of communications for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, and would also serve on the Board of Directors of PBS and other national public television organizations during his tenure at the member network. Allen envisioned a transformation of OETA into a network that would provide programming over-the-air in all of Oklahoma's 77 counties, and initiated many efforts to help grow the member network.[5]

In 1973, OETA expanded its broadcast schedule to 49 hours per week; that year, the network expanded its weekday lineup into the late-evening hours, and began to offer programming on weekends with the addition of a daytime lineup on Saturdays. Through a funding appropriation by the legislature to build the complex, OETA moved its operations to Oklahoma City in 1974, when it opened a studio and office facility next to KETA's transmitter site on the city's northeast side; the new Kelley Avenue facility allowed the member network to begin producing locally originated programming.[4][2] To accrue additional donations to fund programming and operational expenditures, OETA inaugurated its annual "Festival" pledge drive in 1975; the first edition of the two-week event – which is held each March – saw OETA raise more than $125,000 in public and private donations to help with programming dues and acquisitions. In 1976, OETA purchased a mobile broadcasting unit for the production of programs in the field, which allowed the network to conduct remote broadcasts at various locations throughout Oklahoma. The following year, the state legislature's OETA appropriation funding for 1977, granted the authority funds to purchase an extensive curriculum of instructional telecourse programs for broadcast on the network to schools across Oklahoma.

The network gained its third station on December 1, 1977, when KOET (channel 3) in Eufaula was launched as a satellite of KOED-TV to serve areas of east-central Oklahoma (KOET's signal overlaps with OETA's two original stations in some areas of east-central Oklahoma: KOET's signal overlaps with that of KOED near and to the adjacent north of the Interstate 40 corridor [including portions of McIntosh County north of the city of Eufaula] in that part of the state, and with KETA in portions of Creek, Okfuskee and Hughes Counties near State Highway 56). The expansion was made possible in part by a federal grant that was awarded to OETA in 1966, the proceeds of which were intended to fund the network's statewide expansion, in addition to being proportioned for the acquisition of color broadcasting equipment. In 1978, OETA produced the first program to be syndicated nationally by the member network to other public television stations, when it broadcast the U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships; that year also saw the premiere of OETA's first regionally syndicated series, The Other School System, a 13-part program co-hosted by Art Linkletter and former Miss America (and Clinton native) Jane Jayroe.[4][2][6]

OETA launched its fourth and final full-power station on August 6, 1978, when KWET (channel 12) in Cheyenne signed on as a satellite of KETA, serving west-central Oklahoma, and portions of northwestern and southwestern Oklahoma and the eastern Texas Panhandle.[2] OETA also began building a network of low-power UHF translators (each operating at 1,000 watts) to service areas of the state that were unable to receive the four full-power VHF stations. In 1978, the network signed on its first two repeaters – located in Hugo and Idabel – to relay KOET's programming into southeastern Oklahoma.

The following year, under the guidance of Governor George Nigh, OETA activated four additional translators to relay KWET and KETA's programming to the Oklahoma Panhandle and portions of northwestern Oklahoma.[3] By the time the translator network was completed in 1981, with the sign-on of six translators in northwestern, north-central and south-central Oklahoma,[3] OETA extended its coverage to nearly the entire state (as of 2017, OETA's full-power stations make up the vast majority of its overall coverage, reaching roughly 80% of Oklahoma's geographic population), with fringe coverage from select translators into portions of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas.[3] In 1981, OETA opened a satellite facility in east Tulsa on North Sheridan Road and East Independence Street (southwest of Tulsa International Airport) to serve as a secondary production facility and to house the operations of KOED and its relays; the first television program to be produced out of the new Tulsa facility, Arts Chronicle, made its debut on the network the following year. 1981 also saw OETA enter into an agreement to syndicate Creative Crafts, an arts and crafts program that had been produced by NBC affiliate KTVY (channel 4, now KFOR-TV) in Oklahoma City since 1950, on the network's stations on a 13-week trial basis.[7]

On April 2, 1983, strong wind gusts between 100 to 120 miles per hour (160 to 190 km/h) at the upper sections of KETA's broadcast tower tore loose brackets that held in place a 1,600-foot-long, 6 1/8-inch thick copper transmission cable that attached to tower that linked to the station's transmitter dish ripped the transmission line and caused a short in one of the transmitters. Over-the-air service to KETA and its translators in north-central and southern Oklahoma was restored later that week, after CBS affiliate KWTV (channel 9) allowed its fellow tenant on the Griffin Television Tower to use its backup cable until repairs could be conducted. However, to facilitate upgrades to its transmission system that would begin on August 15, KWTV management notified Governor Nigh that it needed to use the cable to replace clamps attached to channel 9's main cable line, a situation that would have resulted in OETA having to suspend programming for two weeks.[8][9] On July 21, after the Oklahoma State Contingency Review Board rejected the authority's request for emergency funds for the transmission cable replacement, Bob Allen decided to initiate his own fundraising effort: it included a funding solicitation mailers that were delivered to 34,000 private and public donors who contributed to the "Festival '83" pledge drive that March (who were asked to contribute pledges averaging $6.40 per person), and a stunt conducted by Allen himself, in which he climbed onto the tower to seek donations from the public. The effort raised $248,000 in donations ($40,000 above his funding goal of $218,000).[5][10]

The failure to obtain legislature approval to be granted funding for the repairs came as OETA received a 24.8% reduction in state funding in its 1983 funding appropriation, stemming from a decline in state revenue that necessitated budget cuts that adversely affected several other state agencies; the cuts led to OETA implementing a two-day furlough of its entire staff of employees that December. Also that year, the authority established the OETA Foundation, becoming one of the earliest public television stations in the nation to adopt an endowment model for private donations; the foundation's programming endowment plan was created to solicit and receive permanent endowment donations to help support Oklahoma's public television system.[3][11]

To help improve OETA's standing in the state, Allen (who would retire as executive director in December 1998[12]) and Bill Thrash, who was appointed as OETA's station manager and program director after having worked at KTVY's programming and managerial departments since the 1970s,[13] initiated several ambitious programming efforts; in 1987, the authority's production unit, The Oklahoma Network, acquired the national syndication rights to The Lawrence Welk Show, producing compilation episodes of the classic variety series (which also featured originally produced hosted segments); OETA subsequently began distributing the program to other PBS member stations throughout the United States.[14] Then in 1989, the network premiered Oklahoma Passage, a five-part miniseries told in the form of a first-person story illustrating the first 150 years of Oklahoma's history from the perspective of a Georgia family who moved to the Indian Territory in the 1840s.[4] In 1990, OETA premiered Wordscape, a 16-part nationally syndicated instructional series for children in Grades 4 through 6, providing grammar instruction through two to five word cells per 15-minute episode, which were tied to a common theme; in 1991, the Heartland Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded the program with a Heartland Emmy Award for Outstanding Youth/Children’s Program.[15][16]

Acquisition of a second station in Oklahoma City ("The Literacy Channel")[edit]

On April 23, 1991, Heritage Media announced that it would donate the license, transmitter facilities and master control equipment of Fox affiliate KAUT (channel 43) in Oklahoma City to OETA, in an agreement – under which the donation of the license and equipment was contingent on Heritage completing its purchase of independent station KOKH-TV (channel 25) from Busse Broadcast Communications – that included a two-year option for the authority to purchase KAUT's remaining assets for $1.5 million.[17][18][19][20] OETA had earlier been involved in a 1987 proposal by Visalia, California-based Pappas Telecasting Companies, under which Heritage would have donated the KAUT license to OETA for $1 million in exchange for Pappas acquiring the programming inventories of both KAUT and rival independent KGMC (channel 34, now KOCB), including the rights to channel 43's Fox affiliation, for transfer to channel 25, and entering into a 25-year lease to allow OETA to operate the KAUT transmitter facility for $1 per year; KGMC (then owned by Seraphim Media) was to have become a Home Shopping Network affiliate and acquire some religious programs to fill certain non-HSN timeslots. OETA planned to help fund the conversion of channel 43 into an educational station through start-up grants, including a $75,000 grant awarded by management from ABC affiliate KOCO-TV (channel 5).[18] A later revision to the plan saw OETA file an application with the FCC to purchase KGMC as a contingency measure.[21] OETA's involvement in the earlier plans received disapproval from then-Governor Henry Bellmon, who noted that authority management had earlier claimed it did not have enough funding to operate its existing stations adequately. The state legislature's OETA funding appropriation bill for FY1990 prohibited the authority from using state funds towards expenses for the proposed second educational station, and from proposing the appropriation of additional state funding to finance the acquisition and programming conversion if sufficient private funding was not obtained.[18][20][17] Complicating matters further, Governor Bellmon called for a state audit of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority to address allegations from a former employee that the member network's management had misused public funds, and that station employees were required to attend foundation-related meetings and worked for the foundation's pledge drive on state and additional uncompensated time.[22][23] Although the deal would receive FCC approval, the Pappas deal was terminated in February 1989 after the company missed its deadline to finalize the KOKH purchase; the three stations continued on as rival commercial stations until the 1991 license donation.[24][25]

On August 15, 1991, OETA converted channel 43 into a PBS member station, forming a duopoly with flagship KETA-TV; KAUT's Fox affiliation and inventory of syndicated programming migrated to channel 25, in addition to 30 employees, and other equipment and intellectual property from channel 43.[19][26][27][28] The following year, in 1992, the station's callsign was changed to KTLC to reflect its on-air branding as "The Literacy Channel," a brand intended to reflect its commitment to telecourse programming (which, dating to the Pappas proposal, OETA had intended to increase by 250% through the conversion, with the bulk – making up 22 hours of the station's weekly schedule – being carried by channel 43). The development of "The Literacy Channel" was part of a broadcasting pilot initiative between OETA's Board of Directors, the OETA Foundation Board of Trustees, and Heritage Media; Sandy Welch, PBS' senior vice president for education services at that time, and management with the Children's Television Workshop collaborated with the consortium in the development of the format, which OETA and PBS intended to use as a model for instructional and educational programming on a national level. OETA solicited $300,000 in private funds for programming acquisitions for the station's conversion into an educational outlet; studio, transmitter and other operational acquisitions would require additional funding appropriated by the Oklahoma Legislature, which expressed limited objection to OETA's acquisition of channel 43 this time around.

As a PBS station, KTLC's programming consisted of same-day rebroadcasts of programs already carried by OETA, along with some programs acquired by OETA from American Public Television and other syndicators for exclusive local broadcast on channel 43. The schedule included fitness programs on weekday mornings, instructional programs and select PBS series from late evening until sign-off, and a broad mix of adult education programs on Saturday and Sunday early afternoons and late evenings;[29] children's programs filled the majority of the schedule from mid-morning to early evening (a situation atypical of most PBS stations, which typically schedule children's shows only during the daytime hours).[30] KTLC reduced its broadcasting hours under OETA ownership, adopting the 6:00 a.m. to midnight schedule that the member network maintained; though the station's weekend schedule (which initially maintained the same broadcast hours as on weekdays) was pared back significantly in September 1995, with its broadcast day being abbreviated on Saturdays and Sundays to an eight-hour schedule from 4:00 p.m. to midnight (area cable providers filled time periods when channel 43 was off-the-air with other cable channels on the station's designated channel slot; in Oklahoma City, from January 1992 until June 1998, QVC aired in place of KTLC on Cox Cable channel 13 – a slot which experienced co-channel interference with KETA's VHF channel 13 analog signal – during the station's off-hours).[31]

The difficulties in funding the operations of two stations in the Oklahoma City market resulted in the authority deciding to sell channel 43 in the fall of 1997.[32][33] On January 8, 1998, Paramount Stations Group purchased KTLC for $23.5 million, the proceeds from which OETA earmarked to establish the Legacy for Excellence Trust Funds, a pool of endowment funds which, among other projects, went toward funding the construction of the network's digital broadcast transmitters.[33][34][35][36] Paramount's purchase of the station was necessitated by UPN's displacement from KOCB (which left Oklahoma City without an affiliate of the network for six months) after it joined The WB through an affiliation agreement signed by that station's owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group, in July 1997, involving the group's five UPN affiliates and several independent stations; KOCB joined The WB on January 18, 1998.[37] Paramount reverted the station to a general entertainment format as UPN owned-and-operated station KPSG on June 19 of that year (the affiliation switch was originally set to occur on June 1, though technical difficulties postponed the rescheduled June 13 switch by an additional week).[38][39] Under conditions included by OETA in its sale agreement with Paramount Stations Group, channel 43 was subject to a five-year clause that allowed OETA to lease portions of KPSG's airtime after the station joined UPN; KPSG was required to continue airing PBS educational shows supplied by the member network each weekday from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and air simulcast blocks of OETA's "Festival" and "AugustFest" programming for eight hours each weekend during the duration of the March and August pledge drives (the station would drop all OETA-provided children's programming from its schedule in September of that year); the station, however, dropped all PBS programming by 2001 (KAUT-TV is now an independent station owned by Tribune Broadcasting).

Recent history[edit]

In April 2000, OETA began to replace its microwave distribution system through the installation of a digital satellite distribution network, in an effort to modernize transmission relays to the 19 full-power and translator stations; the satellite feed was first uplinked to the authority's translators in the Oklahoma Panhandle, with the remaining stations being brought online that summer.[40] In 2003, the four full-power OETA member stations each began to operate digital television signals; the launch of the signals came just before an FCC-imposed May 31 deadline for public television stations to begin digital transmissions, after delays by the state legislature in allocating funding for the upgrades until the 2001 legislative session, when it appropriated $5.6 million for OETA to install its digital transmission equipment (the OETA Foundation matched the appropriation with $5.6 million in private donations to fund the digital transition; funding for the network's digital transition would total at $11.5 million).[41][42]

In 2005, OETA began broadcasting some PBS programs across its digital-capable stations in high definition. In 2006, the authority launched three full-time digital channels as a subcarrier feeds: OETA OKLA (which is devoted to local and regional programs, both recent and archived, along with carrying select PBS-supplied programming content), OETA Kids (offering PBS-supplied and acquired children's programs) and OETA You (a member service of the PBS You instructional programming network, which became an affiliate of its successor service Create in January 2007).[42] In December 2008, OETA began producing most of its locally produced productions in high definition; however, unlike the commercial television stations serving the state's four main television markets, the member network does not currently transmit programming promotions supplied by PBS or short-form content produced internally or via outside providers that air during breaks between programs in the format (although underwriter sponsorship tags and select promos for OETA original programs are presented in HD).

As early as 2000, OETA developed plans to construct a new facility, obtaining initial funding from several Tulsa legislative representatives, who pooled $250,000 in bond money diverted from the State Capitol improvement fund to go towards development of the new complex. The authority intended for the new satellite studio to replace its existing Sheridan Road building, which suffered from infrastructure problems, space limitations, technical issues with its aging broadcast equipment, and equipment interference caused by airplanes arriving and departing from Tulsa International Airport. OETA attempted to find a suitable facility when it decide to provide funding for the planned Thomas K. McKeon Center for Creativity at Tulsa Community College's South Boston Avenue campus, which was to include a television production facility – to be named The Distance Learning Production and Broadcast Studio – connected or adjacent to the building that OETA would fund independently of the college to serve as its new Tulsa facility. The state legislature denied a proposal by the authority to appropriate funding to construct the studio building, resulting in OETA dropping out as a planned tenant at the Center for Creativity shortly before design renderings were submitted.[43] On August 20, 2009, OETA announced that it would build a 11,000-square-foot (0.25-acre) studio facility on the campus of Oklahoma State University–Tulsa, with construction scheduled to begin in October of that year. OETA moved its Tulsa operations into the new Greenwood Avenue facility in March 2011.[44][45][46]

In recent years, OETA has been subject to reductions in its annual appropriation budget by the Oklahoma Legislature, which have declined by 45% between July 2008 and June 2016 (total operating expenses decreased from just over $5 million in 2006 to $2.8 million for the 2017 fiscal year). State funding accounts for about one-third of OETA’s annual operating budget, with the remainder of the member network's funding coming from membership donations, in-kind contributions and private donations to the OETA Foundation. The cuts in state funding have led to the cancellation of some of the member network's news and documentary programs such as Oklahoma Forum (a public affairs program that featured topics related to the Oklahoma state legislature) and Stateline (which dealt with issues important to Oklahoma and also the United States), while OETA also laid off news staff at its State Capitol bureau. OETA has also operated with a reduced staff, leaving several vacant job positions unfilled for extended periods due to hiring freezes imposed by the authority; according to the Oklahoma Gazette, in 2010, OETA employed 68 staff members (well under the 84 employees it was authorized to maintain in on-air and administrative positions).[47]

In a June 2016 interview with the Tulsa World, OETA executive director Dan Schiedel said that the private contributions to the OETA Foundation from viewers and corporate donors have not been able to keep up with the reduction in state appropriations to the authority. The funding cuts have led to disagreements among state legislators, with some lawmakers who believe that argued public television has been oumoded by an expanding array of cable and digital content that provide similar programming arguing that OETA is not a “core government function” and should be eliminated as a government agency if it cannot be self-supported. Lawmakers serving rural communities in the state, however, have opposed the OETA appropriation cuts on the basis that it is one of the few programming options available for residents who do not subscribe to a cable or internet service provider.[48]

Stations[edit]

Full-power stations[edit]

Station City of license Channels
(Digital)
First air date Call letters’
meaning
Former channel
number(s)
ERP
(Digital)
HAAT
(Digital)
Facility ID Transmitter Coordinates
KETA-TV Oklahoma City 13 (VHF)
(Virtual: 13)
April 13, 1956
(61 years ago)
 (1956-04-13)
Oklahoma
Educational
Television
Authority
Digital:
32 (UHF; 2003–2009)
50 kW 465.2 m (1,526 ft) 50205 35°35′52″N 97°29′23″W / 35.59778°N 97.48972°W / 35.59778; -97.48972 (KETA-TV)
KOED-TV Tulsa 11 (VHF)
(Virtual: 11)
January 12, 1959
(58 years ago)
 (1959-01-12)
Oklahoma
EDucational
Digital:
38 (UHF; 2003–2009)
50 kW 395.8 m (1,299 ft) 66195 36°1′15″N 95°40′32″W / 36.02083°N 95.67556°W / 36.02083; -95.67556 (KOED-TV)
KOET Eufaula 31 (UHF)
(Virtual: 3)
December 1, 1977
(39 years ago)
 (1977-12-01)
Oklahoma
Educational
Television
N/A 1000 kW 364.1 m (1,195 ft) 50198 35°11′1″N 95°20′21″W / 35.18361°N 95.33917°W / 35.18361; -95.33917 (KOET)
KWET Cheyenne 8 (VHF)
(Virtual: 12)
August 6, 1978
(38 years ago)
 (1978-08-06)
Western Oklahoma
Educational
Television
N/A 60 kW 303.2 m (995 ft) 50194 35°35′37″N 99°40′3″W / 35.59361°N 99.66750°W / 35.59361; -99.66750 (KWET)

Translators[edit]

In addition to its four full-power satellites, OETA operates a network of low-power translators that cover the Oklahoma Panhandle, and areas of northwestern, north-central and southern Oklahoma that receive limited to no over-the-air reception from the full-power outlets based in Oklahoma City, Cheyenne and Eufaula:

Current[edit]

Station City of license Channels
(Digital)
First air date
[specify]
Former callsigns Former channel
number(s)
ERP
(Digital)
HAAT
(Digital)
Facility ID Transmitter Coordinates
Direct repeaters of KETA-TV
K38AK-D Ponca City 38 (UHF)
(Virtual: 38)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K38AK (1981–2010) N/A 13.56 kW 134 m (440 ft) 50203 36°44′21″N 97°2′31″W / 36.73917°N 97.04194°W / 36.73917; -97.04194 (K38AK-D)
K30AE-D Alva 30 (UHF)
(Virtual: 30)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K30AE (1981–2010) N/A 15 kW 120 m (394 ft) 50191 36°47′10″N 98°33′33″W / 36.78611°N 98.55917°W / 36.78611; -98.55917 (K30AE-D)
K36KE-D Ardmore 36 (UHF)
(Virtual: 36)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K28AC (1981–2010) Analog:
28 (UHF; 1981–2010)
15 kW 77 m (253 ft) 183055 34°12′10″N 97°9′12″W / 34.20278°N 97.15333°W / 34.20278; -97.15333 (K36KE-D)
K47KI-D Duncan 47 (UHF)
(Virtual: 47)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K54BB (1981–2010) Analog:
54 (UHF; 1981–2010)
9.84 kW 192 m (630 ft) 50195 34°26′1″N 97°41′7″W / 34.43361°N 97.68528°W / 34.43361; -97.68528 (K47KI-D)
K46AI-D Durant 46 (UHF)
(Virtual: 46)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K46AI (1981–2010) N/A 13.4 kW 120 m (394 ft) 50200 33°59′23″N 96°23′49″W / 33.98972°N 96.39694°W / 33.98972; -96.39694 (K46AI-D)
K36AB-D Lawton 36 (UHF)
(Virtual: 36)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K36AB (1981–2010) N/A 60 kW 149 m (489 ft) 50180 34°37′26″N 98°16′15″W / 34.62389°N 98.27083°W / 34.62389; -98.27083 (K36AB-D)
K18IZ-D Grandfield 18 (UHF)
(Virtual: 10)
2010 (7 years ago) (2010) N/A N/A 15 kW 322 m (1,056 ft) 182801 34°12′5″N 98°43′45″W / 34.20139°N 98.72917°W / 34.20139; -98.72917 (K18IZ-D)
Direct repeaters of KWET
K19AA-D Altus 19 (UHF)
(Virtual: 19)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K19AA (1981–2010) N/A 0.43 kW 64 m (210 ft) 50176 34°39′12″N 99°20′57″W / 34.65333°N 99.34917°W / 34.65333; -99.34917 (K19AA-D)
K20IT-D Boise City 20 (UHF)
(Virtual: 20)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K55BV (1981–2010) Analog:
55 (UHF; 1981–2010)
10.7 kW 303.2 m (995 ft) 50173 36°43′29″N 102°28′48″W / 36.72472°N 102.48000°W / 36.72472; -102.48000 (K20IT-D)
K34IN-D Beaver 34 (UHF)
(Virtual: 34)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K56AY (1981–2010) Analog:
56 (UHF; 1981–2010)
12.3 kW 34 m (112 ft) 50186 36°48′45″N 100°32′9.5″W / 36.81250°N 100.535972°W / 36.81250; -100.535972 (K34IN-D)
K48KE-D Buffalo 48 (UHF)
(Virtual: 48)
1981; 36 years ago (1981) K58AX (1981–2010) Analog:
58 (UHF; 1981–2010)
11.8 kW 130 m (427 ft) 50192 36°43′46″N 99°42′59″W / 36.72944°N 99.71639°W / 36.72944; -99.71639 (K48KE-D)
K16AB-D Guymon 16 (UHF)
(Virtual: 16)
1981 (36 years ago) (1981) K16AB (1981–2010) N/A 6.3 kW 163 m (535 ft) 50183 36°40′13″N 101°28′48″W / 36.67028°N 101.48000°W / 36.67028; -101.48000 (K16AB-D)
Direct repeaters of KOET
K15AA-D Hugo 15 (UHF)
(Virtual: 15)
1978 (39 years ago) (1978) K15AA (1981–2010) N/A 7.56 kW 137 m (449 ft) 50201 33°59′45″N 95°30′35″W / 33.99583°N 95.50972°W / 33.99583; -95.50972 (K15AA-D)
K23HY-D Idabel 23 (UHF)
(Virtual: 23)
1978 (39 years ago) (1978) K63BA (1978–2010) Analog:
63 (UHF; 1978–2010)
9.59 kW 156 m (512 ft) 50174 33°53′16″N 94°48′28″W / 33.88778°N 94.80778°W / 33.88778; -94.80778 (K23HY-D)

Decommissioned[edit]

Station City of license Channels
(Digital)
Years of operation Former callsigns Former channel
number(s)
Direct repeaters of KWET
K34IM-D Frederick 34 (UHF)
(Virtual: 34)
1981–2011 K56BQ (1981–2010) 56 (UHF; 1981–2010)

Several of the stations in OETA's translator network – specifically, those covering the Oklahoma Panhandle, northern and southern Oklahoma – produce Grade B signal coverage that extends into portions of extreme southern Kansas, the northern and eastern Texas Panhandle and extreme north Texas; the full-power signal of KOET produces fringe coverage that extends into areas of western Arkansas that are also covered by Fayetteville-based Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) satellite KAFT, while the signal of KOED extends into portions of southeastern Kansas and far southwestern Missouri served by KOZJ in Joplin (the westernmost station of the two-station Ozarks Public Television mini-network). OETA does not operate any translators in northeastern Oklahoma, as that area of the state receives adequate over-the-air coverage from KOED and KOET as well as fringe coverage of PBS member stations in neighboring states.

Some of the viewer donations to the OETA Foundation – especially those collected through OETA's Festival and AugustFest pledge drives – come from these neighboring states, which are served primarily by locally based PBS member stations and regional networks covering the aforementioned regions that also have partial overlap with the over-the-air signals of OETA satellites and translators, including KPTS/Wichita, Kansas, KACV-TV/Amarillo, Texas, AETN, Ozarks Public Television, and Smoky Hills Public Television.

Cable and satellite availability[edit]

OETA is available on all cable television providers within the state of Oklahoma, including Cox Communications (which serves the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas), Suddenlink Communications (which covers portions of western Oklahoma) and Cable One (which serves portions of southern Oklahoma within the Ada-Sherman market). Additionally, KOET is carried by Cox Communications channel 9 in Fort Smith, Arkansas as a secondary PBS outlet for the area (KOET's city of license, Eufaula, is part of the Fort Smith market, which is served primarily by Fayetteville-based KAFT).

On satellite, KETA, KOED and KOET are carried by DirecTV and Dish Network as part of their lineup of local station feeds for Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Fort Smith, respectively.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The digital channels of OETA's main full-power and low-power translator stations are multiplexed, with each station carrying three specialized digital subchannels with their own distinct programming:

Channel Programming
service
PSIP
Short
Name
Video Aspect Programming description[49][50][51][52]
##.1 Oeta.png
OETA HD
OETA-HD 1080i 16:9 The member network's main programming schedule; downcoverted to a 4:3 format (with high-definition content letterboxed to maintain their original aspect ratio) for cable and satellite viewers who receive the standard-definition feed of the corresponding OETA station. Unlike its digital subchannels, the main OETA feed does not provide a second audio program (SAP) channel to transmit Descriptive Video Service or alternate language audio feeds of certain PBS and American Public Television-syndicated programs due to technical limitations with Dolby Digital audio channels in the ATSC 1.0 format.
##.2 OETA OKLA logo.png
OETA OKLA
OKLA 480i 4:3 Carries recent and archived OETA-produced programming focusing on Oklahoma issues, history and culture, as well as news and talk programs on Sunday through Friday late nights; some documentaries shown during primetime on Sundays; children's programs on weekend mornings; how-to and cooking instruction programs on weekday mornings; and replays of PBS shows and programs distributed for public television syndication during the mid-afternoon, early-evening and overnight hours seven days a week in blocks running approximately three hours in length.
##.3 OETA Create logo.png
OETA Create
Create 16:9 Airs the full schedule of Create, carrying the network's how-to, cooking, art, travel and lifestyle programs from American Public Television and other distributors; the service originally broadcast in 4:3 standard definition until Create converted to widescreen SD on May 1, 2015.
##.4 OETA Kids logo.png
OETA Kids
Kids 4:3 Airs the full schedule of the PBS Kids Channel, with programs that fulfill educational programming guidelines defined by the Children's Television Act. Prior to becoming a PBS Kids member on January 13, 2017, the service sourced its children's programming from the PBS and American Public Television libraries through programming rights maintained by OETA; all PBS Kids Channel programming carried on the subchannel is transmitted in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition due to technical limitations which prevent it from being presented in 16:9.
  • From its launch until the restoration of OETA Kids as an over-the-air service on November 13, 2013 and since January 1, 2017, OETA OKLA has also carried a block of PBS- and APT-sourced children's programs on Saturdays and Sundays to fulfill Children's Television Act programming guidelines for digital subchannels (originally airing in the morning and afternoon until 2010, before being scaled back to 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; since the block's resumption, OETA Okla carries these programs from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m.). Since 2009, OETA OKLA has gradually expanded the amount of PBS and American Public Television programming within its schedule, offering other replayed content from OETA's main schedule outside of the channel's regularly scheduled repeat block, as well as programs that OETA has no room to carry on its main feed's schedule. Prior to January 1, 2017, when the service began airing these programs in a more randomized structure in the time periods mentioned in that section above, OETA Okla rebroadcast the main OETA channel's prime time lineup on a one-day delay, with some alterations to allow certain locally produced content to air in other timeslots, on Monday through Saturday evenings and, from September 2015 to December 2016, on Monday through Friday mornings. Unlike other subchannel services of its format operated by other PBS member networks, OETA OKLA does not broadcast coverage of state government meetings – in this case, those of the Oklahoma Legislature – while it is in session.
  • OETA Create and OETA Kids originally launched in 2006 on the third and fourth digital subchannels of all four of OETA's full-power digital stations. OETA Kids was the only one of the two subchannel services to be carried 24 hours a day, as bandwidth limitations necessitated OETA HD – which originally operated as a dedicated HD channel supplemental to the main analog simulcast – to be allocated additional bandwidth reserved for the OETA analog simulcast and OETA OKLA while the service carried high-definition programming.[42] In 2008, the two services began operating strictly as cable-only services, leaving OETA OKLA as the member network's only over-the-air multicast service (in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets, OETA Kids and OETA Create were carried on Cox Communications' digital cable service though its base limited basic tier on which OETA's standard definition and high definition feeds are also available). OETA restored the two services to all four of its full-power stations on November 13, 2013, operating on the subchannel placements they previously held prior to 2008.
  • From the service's launch until 2010, OETA Kids carried children's programs daily from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., with news and interview programs filling the remainder of the schedule.
  • OETA Kids does not reference its full-power member stations in its custom ID slide (which predates its reversion into an over-the-air service) – even after that service became available over-the-air in November 2013. OETA Create did not utilize a custom station identification slide until June 2017, which is shown during Create's afternoon and evening programming (during which time promotions from the Create network feed are replaced with program promos and interstitial content that is also seen on OETA and OETA Okla); although, unlike with OETA Okla, the ID slide does not reference the specific subchannel placement of the service on each of the four full-power stations. To comply with FCC station identification regulations, both subchannels provide required identification of the member network's four full-power stations (using the in-program ID graphic seen on OETA's main feed during PBS programs that run more than one hour in length) after the top of each hour during regular programming.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

During 2009, in the lead-up to the digital television transition that would ultimately occur on June 12, OETA began shutting down the analog transmitters of its stations on a staggered basis. Listed below are the post-transition channel allocations for each analog transmitter[53] and the dates on which each ceased operation:

  • KETA-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, on February 17, 2009, the original target date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 32 to VHF channel 13.
  • KOED-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, on February 17, 2009. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 38 to VHF channel 11.
  • KWET shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 12, on March 31, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 8. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 12.
  • KOET shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on March 31, 2009. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 31. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.
  • All of OETA's fifteen low-power translator stations shut down their analog signals and converted to digital-only transmissions on June 12, 2009, the rescheduled date for full-power stations to transition to digital-only broadcasts. With the exception of K18IZ-D in Grandfield, the virtual channels of the repeaters transmit on channels corresponding to their physical allocation (which, depending on the station, were either their pre-transition allocation or relocated due to their allocation falling within the upper band of UHF frequencies – channels 52 to 69 – that the FCC decommissioned from broadcasting use following the transition).

Programming[edit]

As a PBS member station, much of the programming aired on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority consists of educational and entertainment programming distributed by PBS to its member stations, including NOVA, the PBS NewsHour, Frontline, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow and Nature; it also carries programs distributed by American Public Television and other sources to fill its schedule, alongside programs produced exclusively for the state network.

OETA's weekday lineup is dominated by children's programs (such as Arthur, Wild Kratts, Peg + Cat and Sesame Street) between 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., followed by a two-hour block of general and financial news programs leading into prime time. Programs provided by PBS are primarily shown on most nights in prime time except for Thursdays and Saturdays, which instead feature OETA original programs and content from American Public Television (OETA documentaries and British drama series air on Thursdays, while Saturdays feature The Lawrence Welk Show, music or documentary specials and the OETA Movie Club). On Saturdays, OETA carries a broad mix of how-to programs during the morning and early afternoon hours, and encore presentations of PBS prime time shows in the mid-to-late afternoon. Encores of PBS prime time shows also air on Sundays in the late morning, with the remainder of that day's schedule outside of prime time consisting of newsmagazines and some how-to and outdoor programs. Since the discontinuance of its Sunday late-night comedy block in September 2015, "Britcoms" have had a reduced presence on OETA's schedule (as of 2017, the only British comedy series on OETA's schedule are Last of the Summer Wine, which airs Monday through Thursdays in late night, and medical dramedy Doc Martin, which airs Thursday and Sunday nights on the main feed and on OETA Okla as part of its Wednesday encore block).

Until 2010, OETA ran a heavy amount of instructional programming each weekday (totaling 17½ hours of its daily schedule by 2005), instructional programs now run largely on the OETA Create subchannel service, which carries programming from PBS's instructional and distance education network Create.

Through the first half of the 2000s, the OETA state network was one of the few remaining broadcast television outlets in the United States that had not converted to a 24-hour-a-day broadcast schedule. Until its full-power and translator stations formally switched to a 24-hour schedule in April 2006, by adding content from the PBS Satellite Service feed during the overnight hours, OETA continued to go silent on Sunday through Thursdays from 12:00 to 6:00 a.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 to 6:00 a.m. Prior to the conversion, many cable providers around the state (such as Cox Communications) carried other lower-priority cable networks that could not be carried full-time on a separate channel due to limited headend frequency space over OETA's channel slots as filler during overnight/early morning time periods while the broadcast signals were off-the-air until the late 1990s, when OETA began offering an alternate feed of PBS's default satellite schedule to these systems to air during the off-hours.

Original productions[edit]

OETA is one of several PBS member stations or regional networks that distributes programming for syndication to other public television stations around the United States; these programs, along with shows produced for exclusive broadcast on the OETA network within Oklahoma, are produced by the network's production unit, OETA: The Oklahoma Network. It has distributed The Lawrence Welk Show since October 1987, after that series left commercial syndication, and has also produced specials featuring excerpts from the program (beginning with the 1987 PBS special, Lawrence Welk, Television's Music Man); the acquisition and syndication of the program – consisting of an initial pickup of 52 episodes – came after a successful pledge donation assignment during the "Festival '87" drive that March, in which viewers were inquired whether OETA should return Welk to television; reruns of Lawrence Welk – which have become a staple of the member network's weekend evening schedule – have since become OETA's most-watched program.[14][54] OETA also distributes The Kalb Report, a monthly discussion program focusing on issues of ethics and responsibility in media that is hosted by Marvin Kalb.[55]

Locally produced programming on the state network includes the OETA Movie Club (a weekend evening showcase of classic movies from the 1930s to the 1990s syndicated by American Public Television, which has been hosted by B.J. Wexler since its premiere in February 1988),[56] Oklahoma Horizon (a weekly newsmagazine, produced by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, which focuses on economic and social issues, and is syndicated to the RFD-TV cable network in the U.S. and the Global Broadcasting Network in Europe), Oklahoma Gardening (a weekly gardening series produced by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service at Oklahoma State University–Stillwater through the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and OSU Agricultural Communications Services, which debuted in 1975)[57] and Gallery (which debuted in April 2001 and focuses on Oklahoma's art community; it produced a spin-off series, Gallery America, that debuted in January 2016).[58][59]

Newscasts[edit]

OETA is one of only a handful of PBS member outlets that produces a local or regional news program. The network launched its news operations in 1976, when it premiered The Oklahoma Report, a half-hour nightly newsmagazine, consisting of three ten-minute interview programs. Due to viewer demand, by 1980, the program expanded into a conventional news program that featured both pre-recorded news stories filed by OETA's own reporting staff in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and taped reports from news-producing commercial television stations in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets (although Oklahoma is served by four television markets that each have commercial network-affiliated stations licensed within the state, the Oklahoma News Report did not include reports from stations in the Lawton/Wichita Falls and Ada/Ardmore/Sherman/Denison markets). The program eventually incorporated content from OETA's Stateline and Gallery units, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. The retooling of The Oklahoma Report came after OETA raised enough funding to hire a three-person anchor/reporter staff and a small production crew.[60]

For much of its first fourteen years on the air, the program was anchored by Tom Gilmore, an El Reno native who also hosted two public affairs shows on the network, Legislative Week in Review and Oklahoma Week in Review (prior to joining OETA, Gilmore served as a news anchor at KSWO-TV [channel 7] in Lawton and as host of the children's program Captain Tom's Popeye Theater on KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City). Gilmore would eventually be appointed as OETA's manager of news and public affairs after Pam Henry (former anchor/reporter at KTVY and KWTV in Oklahoma City, who also served as the last poster child for March of Dimes' polio awareness campaign at age 8) stepped down from the position in 1987. Following Gilmore's retirement from broadcasting in 1990, Dick Pryor, Mary Carr Lee (both former reporters at KOCO-TV) and Lisa Mason (who served as anchor of the defunct Newstouch 25 updates aired on KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City) took over as anchors of the retitled Oklahoma News Report.[60][61][62]

For its first 35 years on the air, ONR (as the program would become formally retitled in 2012) had originally aired as a nightly broadcast on Monday through Friday evenings (albeit with pre-emptions on Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve and New Year's Day). As a weeknightly program, the format of the Oklahoma News Report more closely resembled that of the evening news programs seen on the major broadcast networks. The newscast never featured a regular sports segment within each night's edition, but occasionally featured sports-related stories when warranted. The newscast also regularly featured a stock market segment featuring the day's closing numbers on the Dow Jones and NASDAQ market indexes, and stocks for Oklahoma-based businesses (such as Kerr-McGee, ConocoPhillips and Sonic Drive-In).

In July 2010, OETA altered the program's format following the legislature's decision to slash the authority's budget appropriations by $994,000 drop in the state budget for the 2010 fiscal year, coupled with $725,000 in additional cuts that were made to the agency earlier in the year. Longtime anchors George Tomek (a former anchor at KFOR-TV and KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, who joined OETA in 2007[63]) and Gerry Bonds (who joined OETA in 1996 after a nine-year stint as evening anchor/reporter at KOCO) were permanently suspended from the program, leaving longtime news anchor and manager, Dick Pryor (who briefly stepped back from his duties on the program in 2007, to become chief of staff for Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins), as the sole anchor of ONR. The program also eliminated its daily weather segment (presented for years by meteorologist Ross Dixon), relegating weather coverage during the program to situations in which it warranted being the focus of a news story; the same budget issues that led to Tomek, Bonds and Dixon's terminations also resulted in OETA suspending production of five of its news and documentary programs, OKC Metro (an interview program hosted by Bonds that debuted in 1995), Tulsa Times (a newsmagazine series focusing on issues and events concerning the Tulsa area that ran from 1995 to 2009), State of Creativity (a recurring program focusing on Oklahoma's arts community), The People’s Business (a monthly financial advice and interview series) and Legislative Week (a series focusing on activity in the Oklahoma Legislature that debuted in 1979).[64][65][66][67]

As a consequence of the Oklahoma State Legislature's passage of its 2011 budget referendum that cut OETA's annual budget by 9%, the network announced on June 29, 2011, that the Oklahoma News Report would no longer be produced as a traditional nightly general news program after the July 1 broadcast; the program would also be transitioned into a weekly newsmagazine (the newscast's longtime 6:30 p.m. timeslot was replaced with the PBS NewsHour as part of a shuffling of OETA's early evening news block due to the removal of ONR as a weeknight newscast that also saw the move of Nightly Business Report to an earlier timeslot and BBC World News America join the OETA lineup). ONR returned to the member network as an hour-long magazine series on July 15, 2011, airing initially on Friday evenings with rebroadcasts on Saturdays on its main channel; by 2013, ONR had reverted to a half-hour broadcast.[68]

Local program hosts[edit]

Oklahoma News Report
Reporters
  • Steve Bennett - general assignment reporter
  • Robert Burch - general assignment reporter
  • Susan Miller - general assignment reporter
  • Bob Sands - general assignment reporter
  • Lis Exon - general assignment reporter; also Tulsa news manager
  • Blair Waltman - general assignment reporter
Photojournalists
  • Aaron Byrd
  • Tim Carson
  • Ilea Shutler
Oklahoma Horizon
  • Rob McClendon - host
  • Andy Barth - general assignment reporter
  • Austin Moore - producer
  • Courtney Maye - part-time multiplatform producer
  • J.D. Rosman - intern
  • Gayle Scott - general assignment reporter
  • Karen Hart - graphic

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

References[edit]

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