PBS starting $10M
fund-raising drive
for new site

The Hawaii Public Television Foundation, which plans to build a new studio headquarters next door to Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki, is launching a $10 million fund-raising campaign, the organization said.

The private, nonprofit organization has agreed to buy a 28,761-square-foot vacant lot at 1812 Kalakaua Ave. for $2.5 million, where it plans to develop a new home. The site is being sold by the bankruptcy estate of imprisoned Indonesian investor Sukamto Sia, and previously housed a clubhouse for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"I've been looking for a property for two years," said Mike McCartney, president and chief executive of Hawaii Public Television, and a former state senator. "I just found it by driving around one day."

The foundation has built up reserves over the past five years to pay for the land costs of the project, McCartney said. At the same time, PBS Hawaii's operating budget is projected to fall next year to about $4.9 million from $5.3 million last year.

PBS Hawaii's donors can select whether their money can be used for capital expenses or operations, McCartney said.

To cut operating costs, PBS Hawaii recently laid off four people, cutting its staff to 28.

PBS Hawaii currently resides across from the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus under a lease with the state that runs through 2005. The public television organization hopes to break ground in Waikiki by 2006, and plans to talk with the state about a lease extension for its existing location, McCartney said.

A benefit of developing a new facility is that PBS Hawaii will no longer have a landlord, and will be able to rent the Waikiki studio to local productions, McCartney said.

"We're excited about this. This is good for us," he said. "We're going to work really hard and we believe we offer an alternative to commercial television to the community, so we think people will support us on that."

PBS Hawaii was once a state agency that went private in 2000.

The organization is finishing a $5.5 million fund-raising campaign to help it convert to digital technology, a requirement of the Federal Communications Commission. One-third of the funds were from the state, one-third came from the federal government, and the remaining third came from private organizations.

PBS Hawaii has been on the air since 1967.


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