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Frequently Asked Questions of MPBN

Programming and General Questions

  1. I’m hearing weather reports instead of the audio of the program I’m watching. What gives?

    What you are hearing is our Secondary Audio Program (SAP) channel. Somehow, your TV has been switched to this option.

    The SAP channel was designed for descriptive video for the blind, or for foreign language dubbing of a program. MPBN uses this part of our signal to serve members of our audience who are visually impaired, so they can take advantage of NOAA weather broadcasts. I can understand how confusing or frustrating it can be if you accidentally switch over to this channel!

    Fixing this may be as simple as pressing the SAP (sometimes marked MTS) button on your remote control or, on some older televisions, there is simply a SAP button on the back of the TV. It there's no such button, you'll have to read your TV (or VCR) manual to learn how to switch the SAP channel off.

    Each TV is different, so MPBN cannot walk you through it, but you usually look for a "menu" or "program" button on your remote control, and then for the "audio", "stereo", or "sound" function. Then just change the option from SAP (or MTS) back to STEREO. Once you learn how to change your options you'll be able to switch your sound back to stereo or mono and you will have the right sound for your programs.

  2. How can I get your monthly programming guide?

    The printed version of our monthly programming guide, Experience, is available to all supporting members of MPBN who contribute $35 per year or more. In addition to a comprehensive list of MPBN TV and Radio programming, the guide also contains articles of interest to our viewers and listeners. To receive yours, call our Membership Department at 1-800-884-1717, Extension 1201.

    Experience is always available for online viewing or download.

  3. I’m a new resident of Maine, and I was surprised to see high school basketball on public television. I missed a couple of my regular programs. Is this something you televise every year?

    Annual coverage of the Maine Principals’ Association’s Maine High School Basketball Tournaments is a long-standing tradition at MPBN. For over 30 consecutive years, MPBN is proud that we have been able to give the youth of Maine this brief moment in the spotlight.

    We hope you’ll agree that, although it interrupts a portion of our regular programming for the scheduled four weekdays and two Saturdays each year, it provides a positive message to these young people that they matter, and that achievement, sportsmanship, school spirit are all worthy of recognition and coverage. Seeing one’s school and community highlighted on statewide television at that young age is a big deal for these young people, and hopefully impacts our youth, their schools, communities, parents and friends, in a positive manner.

  4. I wasn’t able to watch my favorite program this week. Am I able to watch it online?

    Many programs are now available through the Video on Demand. Here you will find a comprehensive list of programs available for viewing onling. If you do not find your favorite listed, give us a call at Audience Services, 1-800-884-1717, Extension 1200.

  5. Are copies of MPBN television programs available?

    Absolutely. Copies of all MPBN currently produced programs except for the Maine Capitol Connection are available in DVD format for $25.30 each (this includes shipping and handling) by calling MPBN Audience Services at 1-800-884-1717 during business hours, or by mailing a check in the proper amount to MPBN Audience Services, 1450 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, ME 04240. If purchasing with a check, please be sure to note the complete program/episode information in any correspondence.

    Many MPBN programs no longer in production are also available. Many nationally produced programs are available from PBS Home Video at 1-800-752-9727. Call MPBN Audience Services for more information.

  6. Does Diane Rehm have a speech impediment?

    In 1998, Diane Rehm was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological condition that causes strained, difficult speech. Despite this, her courageous decision to continue in radio was applauded nationwide. In 2004, she was inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists' Hall of Fame. Hers is one of the more popular national public radio programs, rated in the top 10.

  7. Sometimes, the picture and sound don’t match up on my TV. Why does that happen?

    Lip-Sync is the Achilles Heel of digital broadcasting. It is an issue that has no easy solution. It is not a MPBN only problem and is being dealt with nationwide by the engineering community.

    Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy way to explain this phenomenon.

    Using a package shipping metaphor to explain it, think of video as a very large and heavy package. Think of the audio as a letter. This is basically the size differentials between video and audio data that we are dealing with. Now in analog days, we taped the letter (audio) to the large package (video). They were carried through the system as a matched pair. In digital, they are unbound from each other. Both packages are sent in the same truck, but each has its own shipping label. Now those shipping labels refer to each other. Theoretically, the receiving end sees the reference and makes sure that both packages move to the next truck at approximately the same time. When the package gets to the home, the receiver reads the package labels and presents them (video and audio) to the viewer at the time marked. To make matters somewhat more complicated, the boxes and letter have to be unpacked and the pieces stored and moved separately through the distribution center. Before the packages can move to the next distribution center, they need to be repacked and have new labels printed and placed on them. A problem or misread anywhere in this chain can result in the two not arriving at the same time (timestamp mislabel). Consider that this process occurs hundreds of times along the chain from the producer all the way to the home receiver. Now lip sync errors occur in any number of ways, but the most common is mislabeling. Somewhere, someone got the two out of sync and then labeled them with inaccurate information. That inaccurate information is propagated throughout the system since there is no way to verify or double check the label information. Sometimes slow delivery of one of the packages (does not arrive in time) and the distribution center is too small (not enough memory buffer). Live programs are particularly susceptible since they are trying to balance live interaction (latency) between remote locations. The longer the latency a system is allowed to operate with, the higher the probability that both packages will arrive before they need to shipped again.

    Long answer! I hope this helps explain it all.

  8. I placed an event on MPBN’s Community Calendar earlier today, but I don’t find it listed.

    Thanks for using our Community Calendar. There is a delay in posting Community Calendar submissions in order to ensure that what is posted meets our criteria. The posting generally appears within one or two business days. Feel free to write or give us a call if you have any questions or changes regarding your event.

  9. How can I get information on the Saturday Opera?

    Complete listings and descriptions of the Saturday Operas can be found in the Radio portion of our online monthly programming guide, Experience, as well as the online version:

  10. Do you have a list of the songs played on MPBN Radio?

    The playlists for MPBN music programs are available from our website. Playlists are not posted in real time. Usually, they are posted within a few hours following the broadcast; weekend programs are posted on Mondays; programs which air on a holiday are posted the following business day.

    Playlists for nationally produced programs are generally available on their websites. If you have difficulty finding a particular website, give us a call at Audience Services, 1-800-884-1717, Ext. 1200.

  11. My neighbor introduced me to the MPBN WORLD channel. Great programming! Why can’t I get it from my satellite provider?

    MPBN now offers alternative programming, MPBN WORLD, available off-air (by antenna). It is also available from some cable service providers such as Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Satellite providers have yet to offer this programming. For a complete listing of where to find MPBN Television channels, visit the TV Schedule page on our website or call Audience Services at 1-800-884-1717, Extension 1200.

  12. Why do you discontinue airing some of our favorite children’s programs?

    Programming decisions which result in a particular program being replaced by another, or dropped from production all together, are never made easily, and only after careful consideration of the many factors involved, especially when we know that some viewers will be adversely affected. When dealing with children’s programming, the situation becomes even more difficult.

    Our children’s programs come to us from PBS, so we have little control as to which programs are available. If it’s a matter of scheduling, then we do have some leeway, and it is possible to make adjustments to the schedule independent of PBS. However, if PBS discontinues a program due to lack of funding, or any other reason, we are faced with a situation we cannot rectify or alter.

    If the programming change is made by us, then, whether or not this is a long term decision depends to a great extent on the comments received from viewers like you. We certainly welcome and consider all comments and feedback.

  13. My favorite program is on so late each week, I often miss it. How about alternating the times each week?

    With so many quality programs available, scheduling presents a constant challenge to our programmers. One thing we strive for is consistency in our scheduling – something our audience has been adamant about. As technology continues its rapid advance, I believe prime time will be redefined as more and more programs become available to viewers and listeners on demand. Meanwhile, the attempt to meet audience scheduling preferences is ongoing, and every effort is made to satisfy as many viewers and listeners as possible.

  14. I live in Portland. Why do I get weather warnings for Aroostook County? Very annoying!

    The question often arises as to why MPBN broadcasts the complete alert, regardless of which area of the state it pertains to, while other stations do not. We are mandated to interrupt programming because, according to the "State of Maine Emergency Alert System Operational Plan", we are the designated Primary Source and the State Relay Source for emergency alerts in the State of Maine.

    The "State of Maine Emergency Alert System Operational Plan" is the document mandated by the Federal Communications Commission outlining the organization and implementation of the State of Maine Emergency Alert System (EAS). It sets forth procedures for broadcast station and cable system personnel and designated government officials to disseminate emergency information and instructions in threatened or actual emergencies. According to the plan:

      Upon receipt of a request to activate EAS from the state warning point, the PS (MPBN) will immediately interrupt normal programming and broadcast the EAS message as received in its entirety.

    This means MPBN must transmit the entire message, audio and text, statewide. We do not have the option to broadcast only text. We do not have the option to choose where a message is broadcast because we are the state-wide source for all other broadcasters. The message we send is encoded with information that local broadcasters and television service providers can use to filter out messages that do not apply to their area. We, however, do not and cannot, filter the messages.

    Hopefully this helps explains what we are required to do. For more information about the Emergency Alert System, call our Audience Services Department at 1-800-884-1717.

  15. Where do I find MPBN on my television?

    If you have internet access, we have a comprehensive list of MPBN channels for viewers receiving MPBN by antenna, cable, and satellite. The TV Schedule page is located on under the "Television" heading. Below the schedule listings is a section on Where To Find Us. This information is also featured in our monthly programming guide, Experience, available to all MPBN supporting members at the $35 per year or above level. You can also call Audience Services at 1-800-884-1717 during normal business hours.

Questions about MPBN support and MPBN membership

  1. I’ve heard you mention becoming an Evergreen Friend. What does that mean?

    There is now a more convenient way to support MPBN: Evergreen Friends. It’s easy on your budget, simplifies your life a bit, is greener for the environment, and provides considerable savings to the station.

    As an Evergreen Friend...

      You simplify your life because your contributions are automatically debited directly from your bank account or charged to your credit or debit card, and your membership automatically renews every year for as long as you choose.

      You are supporting MPBN in a greener manner because you won’t get as much mail (only a couple of pieces per year!)

      Evergreen support is easier on your budget because you decide the monthly amount to contribute.How about $5/month (the minimum) or $10/month? You decide. Plus, you save additional money because every Evergreen Friend receives an MPBN MemberCard!

      And because you are supporting MPBN in such an efficient and reliable manner, more of your donation can be spent directly on the programs you so enjoy and less on pursuing necessary funding from year to year.

    For more information, call our Membership Department at 1-800-884-1717, Extension 1201.

  2. My employer will match my gift to MPBN, where can I find MPBN’s EIN (Employer Identification Number) and corporate address?
    Many community-minded employers will match their employees’ gifts to MPBN - dollar for dollar, or more – even after they retire! Here is the information you will need to complete your employer’s matching gift form:

    MPBN’s Corporate Address

    Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation

    1450 Lisbon Street

    Lewiston, ME 04240

    MPBN’s Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)


    Fill out the form and mail it to MPBN, 1450 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, ME 04240. Thank you!
  3. Why have you discontinued the annual MPBN auction?

    The decision to end the Great TV Auction was largely precipitated by the retirement of the Auction's long-time director, Margie Oxman, as well as the departure of other Auction staff. The sentiment among management was that to continue the Great TV Auction would have required a significant investment of time and resources to build it back up that MPBN feels can be more usefully deployed in other areas. The decision was not made lightly; however, MPBN management is in unanimous agreement that it was the correct decision.

    Simply put, in today's economy the four full-time staff and other production resources dedicated to the Auction could be re-deployed elsewhere within the company to raise more than the $150,000 to $180,000 net revenue that Auction adds to MPBN's annual budget of about $11 million. "But we've always done it this way" is never a reason to continue doing something if the objective (raising revenue, in this case) can be achieved more efficiently in another manner.

  4. My neighbor told me that I can donate my older vehicle to MPBN and get a tax deduction. How do I do that?

    Complete information on the Vehicle Donation Program is available on the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program page, or call 1-866-789-8627. A great way to support Maine Public Broadcasting!

  5. I get so frustrated when you have a pledge drive! Can’t you find a better way to raise money?

    MPBN fund-raising efforts are absolute essentials without which public broadcasting in Maine would not exist. Pledge drives have been shown to be the most effective way to retain and gain new member support.

    The current nationwide economic downturn has been especially problematic. In a perfect world, everyone who benefits from public broadcasting would voluntarily support it without the need for solicitation. How wonderful that would be for all of us, viewer and staff alike. No one is more aware of the distractions produced by program preemptions and interruptions, on and off air solicitations, and other pledge efforts than the staff of MPBN.

    The fact is, however, that the majority of support for MPBN comes from viewers and listeners like you who realize the intrinsic value of this media, and pledge drives help to secure a portion of the funding that keeps the regular schedule – and your favorite programs - on the air year round.

    The good news is that over the past two most recent fiscal years, we reduced the total number of pledge days by 40%, thanks to the continued support of our members, and we are optimistic that this will continue.

    We certainly understand your frustration and wish suitable funding alternatives were available.

  6. I have a small business and wonder if I can promote it through Maine Public Television?

    Absolutely. Our Underwriting Department is devoted to servicing the promotional needs of businesses large and small throughout Maine within the accepted standards set by the FCC. Since your promotional dollars benefit your business while also helping to support public broadcasting in Maine, it’s a win-win situation. For complete information, visit the MPBN Business Support page or, call us at 1-800-884-1717 and ask for Underwriting.

  7. What’s the breakdown for MPBN funding?

    For the 2012 fiscal year, funding sources for MPBN are as follows:

      Member and Community Support = 64.2%

      Maine State Appropriation = 17.4%

      Federal Funding = 14.9%

      Other Income = 3.5%

    Complete financial information is available on the MPBN Budget page.

  8. During a recent television pledge program, the folks asking for member support were not local. I was reluctant to pledge, not being sure if my contribution would go to MPBN. If I call the number on the screen, does that money go to MPBN?

    Great question! Some of the requests for support during pledge programs feature personalities and volunteers who are not in our MPBN studios, while others originate live from our MPBN studio. In either case, the full amount of a pledge designated for support of MPBN goes directly to MPBN.

  9. I have enjoyed many years of great public broadcasting in Maine and would like to include MPBN in my will or estate plan. How can I find out more about Planned Giving opportunities with MPBN

    Thank you for your interest in MPBN’s Planned Giving program. When you give to MPBN through your will, trust or other life income plan, you make sure MPBN remains strong and continues to connect the people of Maine to each other and to the world. Please contact Jennifer Foley, Vice President of Development and Philanthropic Giving, at 207-330-4510, or by email

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