UPDATE: 10/15/15 – Despite pleas to keep the station on the air, University of South Florida’s top officials voted to put WUSF’s spot on the broadcast spectrum up for auction — even if that means going dark for good.
(edited from TBO.com) – 10/13/15 – Today, The University of South FL Board of Trustees’s will vote on entering WUSF-TV in the broadband auction, which could ultimately shut down the station in return for millions in payment to the university. The trustees’ Finance and Audit committee gave its approval to the idea Oct. 6, with just one member voting against the move. WUSF’s FM radio station would not be affected.
For the first time, in April, the Federal Communications Commission will hold what’s called an incentive broadcast spectrum auction, which will allow TV stations across the country to voluntarily sell or trade their broadcasting rights to free up space on the spectrum to serve the growing demand for wireless mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
TV stations that voluntarily enter the auction will have the option of sharing channels, switching from a high quality UHF channel to a lower quality VHF channel, or forfeiting a broadcast license completely and go dark.
WUSF broadcasts on local digital UHF channel 34 and virtual channel 16 — valuable spots on the spectrum.
The university launched WUSF TV in September 1963 to allow students to take classes via television, but the once innovative idea is losing money today. WUSF reported a loss of $279,659 in the 2015 fiscal year, $182,564 in the 2014 fiscal year, and $224, 921 in the 2013 fiscal year. The TV station’s cash flow so far this year is negative $775,373. The radio station, meantime, made money during the same period.
The FCC is accepting applications for the auction through November and December. USF has already hired financial consulting firm Bond & Pecaro to assess the value of WUSF’s place on the spectrum and legal counsel to represent the university in the auction process.
In the 1970’s, WUSF became a Public Broadcasting Service affiliate, making Tampa one of few cities with two competing stations airing PBS programming. The other station, private, non-profit WEDU, airs 75 percent PBS programming while WUSF offers 25 percent PBS shows….Cont for the full story….