Several years ago the FCC asked TV stations to sell their current over-the-air frequencies to cellphone providers. Many stations agreed to the auction and brought in millions of dollars from the sale. Most will be switching channels over the next few years. For example, FOX may switch from Channel 46 to Channel 17.
Yet some, especially PBS locals, are electing to go dark and are promoting their streaming option. Why are PBS stations making this move? Money is a big part of it.
KNCT in Central Texas is one of the PBS stations that agreed to move their station to a new channel. As part of the deal they agreed from Channel 46 to Channel 17; however, after reviewing the numbers and looking at the average loss of $418,000 a year over the last five years Central Texas College, the school that owns KNCT, decided against the $4.4 million that they would have to pay to move the service.
WCMZ in Flint Michigan also decided to shut down with this move. They received $14 million from the sale of their bandwidth but instead of spending the money to move to a new channel number WCMZ parent school Central Michigan University has decided to spend the $14 million on the school instead of the TV station.
Why is this happening? Jimmy Towers, a member of the Central Texas Board of Trustees, sums it up best when he said, “At one time, the television station was a significant part of that but today, no offense to the television industry, people are getting their information off their cellphones and off the internet.”
There are two other stations that agreed to shutdown WUSF in Tampa and WYCC in Chicago. The decision to shut down was made by the parent Unviseities that own both stations and according to reports will result in no loss of over-the-air service because other PBS affiliates are in the area.
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