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Membership Questions

Q: Are you getting money through my taxes? If so, why is it important that I donate money to become a member?
The amount of money collected by the federal government and distributed to public television stations through the Corporation of Public Broadcasting does not nearly cover the cost of providing the service enjoyed by millions nationally. It is, for the most part, seed money that allows PBS and the individual stations to leverage additional funds from foundations, corporations, and, most importantly, the individuals who use the service. Local support is important for more than just the dollars needed to run the station; it provides a critical relationship between the station and the communities it serves.

Q: Why didn't I receive a copy of the program guide this month?
This may mean that your guide was lost in the mail, we do not have your correct address, or your membership has expired. Please be aware that it may take up to 4 weeks to receive your first issue, or to restart a lapsed membership. Please contact us and we'll send you a copy of this month's guide.

Q: I have already sent in my contribution. Why did I get another notice?
To use as much of your donation for programming as possible, we print and send out renewal notices in bulk. This requires several weeks for a renewal letter to get printed and mailed. Your contribution and our notice probably crossed in the mail.

Q: Does Montana PBS share or sell membership information with other organizations?
No. Montana PBS does not make our membership information available to any other organizations(See our Privacy Policy).

Q: How can I find out if my employer will match my contribution?
Contact your employer's human resources office, as many employers support your commitment to Montana PBS and will double your contribution. Please review our complete list online, or call us if you have questions.

Q: How long does it take to receive my Thank You gift?
If you requested a gift, it should arrive about eight weeks from the time we processed your contribution. If it has been longer than that, please contact us.

Q: When does my membership expire?
Your membership expiration date is printed on the mailing label of each program guide you receive. You should receive a renewal notice two months before your membership expires.

Q: Is my contribution tax deductible?
Contributions to Montana PBS are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. The fair market value of any premiums received is not deductible. You will receive an official tax receipt at the end of January, showing the amount you can legally deduct.

Programming Questions

Q: I'm an independent producer--how do I work with Montana PBS to get my show produced and/or on the air?
We've got quite a bit of info on our Independents page.

Q: Can you make a copy of a program for me?
We cannot legally make copies of programs we acquire for our schedule. Whether from PBS or other distributors, we are only offered the rights to broadcast, and sometimes cablecast a program.

Q: Why are some programs closed-captioned and others not?
Currently, Closed Captioning is still a voluntary activity, and is an optional activity for program producers. PBS National has assumed a leading role in the development of Closed Captioning, and strongly suggests that producers who want to distribute their shows through PBS have their programs CC'd. Programs that have received funding from PBS or CPB must be Closed Captioned. However, programs that have not received such funding, or which are distributed through sources other than PBS, are not required to be CC'd. A majority of our programs are Closed Captioned. To find out which programs are, visit the daily schedule detailed listings.

Q: Can I get Montana PBS if I subscribe to satellite TV?
Montana PBS is currently available on Dish Network to viewers in the Missoula area. This is the first market in Montana to have a local presence on Dish Network or Direct TV.

Q: Why is the background music so loud in some of your programs? It's often louder than the actors speaking.
Most average home receivers have low fidelity speakers that accentuate the upper mid-ranges and highs. The human voice tends to be in the mid-audio range. The rest of the sound spectrum that helps keep these two components separate and distinct is lost. Add to this the fact that most producers and editors sit in edit bays outfitted with the very best sound systems, and they balance voice and music on their programs based on that high fidelity ability. In sets with better audio systems, there are things that can help with audio in general. Stereo and digital sets with "surround sound" tend to enhance the low and high ranges (which are where the music is), and ignore or dampen the mid-range (which is where the voice usually is). Try switching from stereo to mono whenever there is such a problem, or switch off the "surround sound" (sometimes known as "enhanced") feature.

Q: Why do national newspapers and magazines say a program is going to be on PBS one day, but it airs on Montana PBS weeks later or sometimes not at all?
PBS is not a network such as the commercial broadcasters who pay their affiliates to carry the program as directed by the network, though we are treated essentially the same by the press. Instead, PBS is a television service providing programming and related services to independent stations. Each station is charged with the responsibility of programming that service for their individual market's needs and interests. There are almost as many reasons why we might move, or fail to carry some particular programs from the announced PBS schedule, as there are programs. For example, Montana PBS has a long history of local production which often causes us to shift something PBS has in their schedule in favor of our own production. We also aggressively acquire programs of particular interest to Montanans, also causing some displacement.

PBS provides an abundance of material to stations, few, if any, of which carry all the programs PBS offers. Likewise, most all PBS stations time-shift some programs offered by PBS in order to build the strongest schedule they can for their markets.

Montana PBS has voluntarily agreed to carry certain programs on the same night on which they are fed. The programs are designated "Common Carriage" programs by PBS because they meet certain important criteria, and Montana PBS has scrupulously upheld that agreement.

Q: I missed a show. Will it be repeated?
Just go to Programs A-Z for a complete listing of all the programs we air, including repeats.

Reception Questions

Q: Why am I not receiving a clear picture on Montana PBS?
If you have cable, you may need to contact your cable company and/or check the cable connections to your television. If you do not have cable and you are receiving a snowy picture or a loss of signal strength on only one or two channels, there are a few things you can check before calling a service person:

1. How old is your antenna?
Over time, corrosion and dirt can change the tuning characteristics of receiving antennas and this can affect just one or two stations and not others. Old antennas should be replaced.

2. How old is your antenna wire?
The round coax is best and should be used instead of the flat twin lead. Check for loose connections and connectors, breaks and worn points in the line. Avoid coiling excess wire; it's better to trim it to length if it's more than a few feet too long. Old and worn wire should be replaced as well.

3. Have there been any recent changes such as the addition or removal of any components from your system?
These items may include VCRs, DVDs, extra TVs, couplers, splitters and satellite systems, etc., that are connected to a common antenna. One test we suggest is to remove everything from the antenna system and connect the TV and the antenna directly. Eliminate all two-set splitters, distribution amplifiers, VCRs, DVDs, extra TVs, etc. If the reception improves, it indicates the problem is somewhere in the set-up of the extra equipment or splitters. If it doesn't improve, then it points to the antenna and wiring as the culprit, or some obstruction in your immediate area.

4. Orientation of the rooftop antenna
Is it still level and pointed in the right direction? Sometimes wind can change the axis or tilt it just enough to affect reception. Make sure the mounting is solid and perpendicular.

5. Are there any new buildings close by, or trees with a lot of leaves or heavy branches?

6. Check with some neighbors to see if they are having the same experience with reception.

7. How old is the TV?
Older sets can experience tuner problems that can cause single channel problems. With new TVs, this is probably not the case. If you have a recent model set, you can rule out the TV.