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Tue Oct 20, 2015, 12:28 PM

Will Howard University’s TV Station Be Auctioned Off to the FCC? [View all]

Last edited Wed Oct 21, 2015, 01:46 PM - Edit history (1)

Hat tip, DCRTV.com:

Could Howard U's 32 Be Going Away? - 10/20 - Howard University President Wayne Frederick is considering auctioning Channel 32/WHUT, the university's public television station, to the Federal Communications Commission for anywhere between an estimated $100 million and $500 million. The channel's broadcast spectrum would be submitted to an "incentive auction" that the FCC would have in March. The federal agency wants to sell the spectrum gained at the FCC auction to wireless companies that, according to a university memo obtained by The Root, "need more spectrum to accommodate the increased use of wireless services." WHUT is the third PBS member station serving the DC area, in addition to Channel 26/WETA and Maryland Public Television.....

Will Howard University’s TV Station Be Auctioned Off to the FCC?

Culture

The nation’s top HBCU has to decide by December whether to auction off its most visible, and impactful, public utility.

By: Todd Steven Burroughs
Posted: Oct. 19 2015 9:54 AM

Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick is considering auctioning WHUT—the university’s public television station, and for 35 years the only black-owned public television station in the United States—to the Federal Communications Commission for anywhere between an estimated $100 million and $500 million, according to a universitywide memorandum released Friday.

The channel’s broadcast spectrum, containing both Channel 32 and its currently unused digital channel, Channel 32-2, would be submitted to an “incentive auction” that the FCC would have in March. The federal agency wants to sell the spectrum gained at the FCC auction to wireless companies that, according to the memo obtained by The Root on Sunday, “need more spectrum to accommodate the increased use of wireless services.”

If Howard applies by the filing deadline, Dec. 18, and the FCC accepts, the move could net Howard, which has seen significant cutbacks in staff in recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars in needed funds. But it would also deprive Washington, D.C.—a large and historic black community that has become increasingly gentrified in the last decade—of an important black-owned platform for documentary and local public-affairs programming targeted to blacks, as well as a significant opportunity for the university’s students in its School of Communications to learn television production.

Under the rules of the FCC national auction, the bid for WHUT’s spectrum could start anywhere between $184 million and $461 million, according to Frederick’s memo. But Frederick also explained that the FCC action is a “reverse auction,” meaning that the ultimate price will depend on how many channels across the nation compete to sell their spectrums to the FCC. He postulated that the university would probably get “a fraction” of the opening amount.

The article says that the 32-2 subchannel is not used, but there is a signal on it. That signal is a duplicate of the signal on channel 32-1.

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