WEIU-TV frequency not auctioned off; station to continue operation

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WEIU-TV frequency not auctioned off; station to continue operation

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

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WEIU-TV will continue operating normally as its frequency was not sold in the Federal Communication Commission’s spectrum auction.

The FCC previously asked television stations throughout the nations to auction their frequencies to free up space for cell phone and Wi-Fi signals at higher frequencies.

Eastern President David Glassman said the university did not sell its license for WEIU-TV, meaning the station will continue on just as it has in the past.

“We valued WEIU-TV very, very highly,” he said. “We were not going to at all let it go for anything less than a huge value. It was pretty predictable that it wouldn’t be sold (and) we were going to keep it.”

Glassman said the way the auction worked was that the university would give a number they expected the spectrum to be purchased at.

Those in the auction could offer to purchase it at a lesser level but Eastern had the choice to say the university would not sell it for that price.

“We took ourselves out (of the auction) because the price would keep coming down,” Glassman said. “When it reached a price where there was no way we would take anything lower than that we just pulled ourselves out and said no, it’s too valuable; we want to have WEIU-TV.”

Jack Neal, general manager of WEIU-TV, said this meant the station can look forward to continuing well into the future.

“It’s a good thing, obviously,” he said.

Now, the station will take part in a repacking process, clearing up some of the higher frequency spectrum and making it available to wireless providers.

This means WEIU-TV will switch to a lower frequency, but this change will be “pretty much invisible” to viewers, Neal said.

“For viewers, Newswatch, and for all of our programming, everything remains pretty much the same,” Neal said.

Neal said other than viewers having to rescan their TV set once down the road in a few years, everything else should be business as usual.

Though there will not be a lot of change for viewers, Neal said there will be a lot of work for engineering employees to deal with as they replace the transmitters. When changing the frequency of the station, transmitters have to be changed as well.

Glassman said he has not heard anything about another auction and does not anticipate one at any point in the future.

“We had high value on (WEIU-TV), we kept it, we’re glad it’s still here,” Glassman said.

Neal said for broadcasters, the quiet period, where no licensee can discuss the process because of anti-collusion laws, is over for the most part, but they did not have much information other than whether they were in or out of the auction.

“All of the specifics will supposedly be released by the FCC sometime probably in the middle of April, we’re assuming,” he said. “At that point in time, we anticipate the FCC will publish what stations were sold and are going away and what station aren’t.”

As WEIU-TV was not sold, Neal said the station is now moving forward.

“For us, there’s not a whole lot more as we sort of continue with repacking and replacing the transmitter,” Neal said.

 

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or cjbuchman@eiu.edu

 

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March 20, 2017 at 02:55PM

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WEIU-TV frequency not auctioned off; station to continue operation

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