KCSM-TV, virtual channel 60, is a non-commercial independent television station serving the San Francisco Bay Area that is licensed to San Mateo, California, United States. The station is owned by the San Mateo County Community College District, alongside sister radio station KCSM (91.1 FM). The station maintains studios located on the campus of the College of San Mateo on West Hillsdale Boulevard in San Mateo, and its transmitter is located atop Sutro Tower.
KCSM-TV operates 24-hours a day with a focus toward adult education. On weekdays, it offers college-level distance learning telecourses and in primetime and on weekends, KCSM provides locally produced shows and a wide array of syndicated programming.
The KCSM stations were originally established by the College of San Mateo as college radio and student television station training facilities for radio and television broadcasters. Many well-known media personalities were educated at CSM, including tabloid television reporter Steve Wilson, San Francisco Giants announcer Jon Miller and K101 on-air personality Jeff Serr.
Between 1964 and 1980, CSM offered a full range of courses in broadcasting and broadcast electronics, unusual for a community college; they were much more extensive than better known four-year university programs. The television station and its companion FM radio outlet were staffed and operated by students. This was discontinued in the 1980s, and today KCSM is operated by professional broadcasters.
KCSM-TV first signed on the air on October 12, 1964 was founded by Dr. Jacob H. Wiens, chair of the electronics department at the College of San Mateo. It was originally a member station of National Educational Television until 1970, when that service was succeeded by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). During its early years, broadcasting on channel 14, it operated on campus from black and white studios with 13,800 watts of power from a transmitter at the college, comparable to today's low-power stations. In 1979, KCSM reached a deal with Spanish International Network station KDTV to begin operating from its full-power color facilities and moved to channel 60 atop San Bruno Mountain's Radio Peak on March 5, 1979, KDTV subsequently moved to UHF channel 14.
In March 2006, the Federal Communications Commission levied a $15,000 fine against KCSM for content in the documentary, The Blues: Godfathers and Sons, which the station had aired in March 2004. The series documented the birth and worldwide influence of the blues as a musical genre. One installment contained interviews with artists and others who expressed their feelings of oppression by the music industry, including the use of variations of the words "fuck" and "shit". The FCC determined the content to be "indecent." According to the FCC, "The gratuitous and repeated use of this language in a program that San Mateo aired at a time when children were expected to be in the audience is shocking.” Within days of the decision, law firms from across the country offered their services pro bono to fight the ruling. Because of the upswell of support, KCSM has requested an extension of time to file its appeal.
KCSM dropped its membership with PBS in 2009, and became an independent public television station (KCET, downstate in Los Angeles, would follow suit in January 2011). KCSM-TV retained an affiliation with MHz Worldview for programming feeds on its second digital subchannel.
On December 7, 2011, the San Mateo County Community College District announced plans to sell KCSM-TV, due to budgetary constraints as well as an operating deficit of $1 million. KCSM radio would continue operations as usual. All bids in response to the initial request for proposals to purchase the television station were rejected on October 24, 2012 and the district subsequently issued a second request for proposals. On May 15, 2013, the district approved an agreement with LocusPoint Networks, who will provide a $900,000 annual subsidy for up to four years and then split the proceeds of an auction of its spectrum allocation sometime in the next few years. The KCSM-TV spectrum is expected to be sold for upwards of $10 million to wireless communication companies.
On July 15, 2013, KCSM dropped most of the programming syndicated by public television distributors (with the exception of those airing as part of a discrete afternoon block), moving the MHz Worldview feed to its main channel. It brought back aforementioned programming on July 15, 2014.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|60.1||1080i||16:9||KCSM||Main KCSM-TV programming|
KCSM ceased regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 60, on May 15, 2004 due to a costly rent increase for full-power transmitter space. The station ran a billboard for the next several days advising viewers that they would only operate its digital signal from then on, though it continues to be available through cable. KCSM shut down its analog signal nine days later, on May 24. On May 3, 2005, KCSM received Special Temporary Authorization from the FCC to restore its analog signal at low power, operating on the campus of the College of San Mateo. It briefly simulcast the Jazz TV (60.3) feed for two hours every evening, with the rest of the broadcast day being a simulcast of KCSM (FM), but now offers only the simulcast (with relevant video "bulletin board" screens).
KCSM shut down its analog signal permanently on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 43, using PSIP to display KCSM-TV's virtual channel as 60 on digital television receivers, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.