On cable, WCFE can be seen on Comcast Burlington channel 14 and Charter Plattsburgh channel 7. On Vidéotron, it can be seen on channel 24 in west Montreal, channel 43 in central and east Montreal, and channel 50 on Illico digital cable.
Its studios and offices are located at One Sesame Street in Plattsburgh.
WCFE signed on in March 1977 from studios at SUNY Plattsburgh. In 1993, it rebranded itself as "Mountain Lake PBS" to reflect its growing viewership.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed
|57.2||Simulcast of analog WCFE-TV|
One of its solutions has been to broadcast certain various signature PBS television shows at different dates and times from the main network, much as Long Island's WLIW has done to differentiate itself from New York City's WNET. For example, for a number of years WCFE did not broadcast PBS's Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday evenings; it would also broadcast Wall Street Week on Saturday instead of Friday, to name but two examples.
This practice has always been somewhat controversial amongst WCFE's members, especially those who do not live in overlapping broadcast areas. As a result, the station has reduced the practice somewhat, and has taken to airing a number of the most popular PBS shows at the same time as the main network.
WCFE has some 8,500 members (according to figures as of August 2004), 4,500 of whom live in Canada. The fact that more than half of its members are Canadian presents some challenges. First, WCFE has to take Canadian interests into account in its programming. Second, the Canadian presence has an impact in its fundraising activities. Not only does WCFE make an effort to include French-language elements in its fundraising for the Quebec market, but it must take into account that a part of the funds that it receives is in Canadian dollars. The fluctuations in the exchange rate between the Canadian and American dollar make budgeting difficult. In addition, in the past decade the decrease in the value of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart has meant a decrease in revenues for WCFE. The Canadian dollar has gained ground since 2003, meaning a slight increase for WCFE.
Following the collapse, Vidéotron systems in Quebec that offered WCFE substituted its signal with that of Detroit's WTVS. On April 27, WCFE's signal was reestablished on Vidéotron, which received WCFE's signal from its temporary transmitter.
In addition, WPTZ donated its internet streaming facilities to WCFE, which was used for WCFE's annual Art Auction, which took place as scheduled, shortly after the collapse.
The transmitter that was damaged was a Thomson TBM unit. The company was able to provide one of their Affinity transmitters on lease to the station within two weeks of getting the request from the station. This temporary transmitter was located at the station's studio location until they could get the main transmitter facility repaired (which was a very involved process due to site access issues).
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