HARLINGEN - The board of directors for RGV Educational Broadcasting, which oversees KMBH-TV, said Thursday night that management would attempt to find an appropriate time in March to air the documentary "Hand of God."
The program on the child molestation scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston caused local controversy when KMBH, the local Public Broadcasting System affiliate, did not air it at the usual "Frontline" prime-time slot on Jan. 16.
At a board of directors meeting Thursday, board chairman Bill Elliott allowed the public to speak.
"I would have been very interested to hear the real answers to these questions" about the program not airing, said Rio Hondo resident Ann Hope.
When asked if there would be any response to questions about why the station did not air the program, Elliott said, "This is not a debate."
Lisa Brodyaga of San Juan said she had been disappointed in the station's programming for some time, saying it "turned into Catholicism rather than education."
"Not showing 'Hand of God' was the last straw," she said. "That's what motivated me to come to this meeting ... I feel a duty to speak out."
Students at Texas State Technical College also were concerned, according to their instructor, Sally Bishop Merrill.
"I live for this station, but my students are asking, 'Why did the station not broadcast 'Hand of God?'" Merrill said. "What was the reason? I'm not particularly interested in the program, but my students in ethics and world religion are asking."
After the viewers spoke, Elliott addressed the issue of diverse programming. He said the station is working on raising funds to get more programming, but did not address "Hand of God."
At the end of the meeting, the last issue the directors addressed was the concerns from viewers about "Hand of God." Elliott asked the station's president and CEO, Monsignor Pedro Briseño, if it was possible to air the program at an "appropriate," prime-time slot.
Because the schedule for February already has been completed, nothing could be done, Briseño explained.
"I will look into the possibility during the month of March," Briseño said.
Briseño and Elliott said the possibility of airing the documentary in prime time would be discussed at their next meeting, which is officially March 19, but they anticipate holding the meeting earlier.
"In March, staff has time to find a slot so people can see it," Elliott said in an interview after the meeting.
Elliott said viewers who wish to see the documentary can call the station about receiving a free DVD.
"I think a great deal of the discussion has been some significant misunderstanding," he said. "I know that 'Hand of God' was important to some individuals and I appreciate that."
Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley, the local chapter of a national group seeking accountability in the Roman Catholic Church, requested that the program be aired in prime time and also requested that management make a public statement about the show not airing, calling it an "error in judgment."
When asked to respond to the request for a public statement, Elliott said, "I saw the request."
CTA-RGV member Edwin J. Cook of McAllen said directors still dismissed the issue of responding to the public's concerns.
"They were obviously standing behind Monsignor Briseño's statements, which doesn't make sense to me," Cook said. "It's a half-hearted attempt to rectify the situation ... It's a lame attempt to address the issue."
"Hand of God" will be shown for free at Cine El Rey in McAllen on Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m.