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Minor changes anticipated for OHIO’s WOUB Public Media stations after FCC Spectrum Auction

Ohio University’s WOUB Public Media stations, WOUB-TV (Athens) and WOUC-TV (Cambridge), have announced that minor changes will occur in the coming months as the result of an FCC Spectrum Auction.

The FCC recently shared that the broadcast television stations portion of their Spectrum Auction had officially completed.

WOUB-TV (Athens)
WOUB-TV (Athens) did not participate in the Spectrum Auction. The station cited protecting its UHF spectrum and future technology opportunities as its key reasons for its decision.

“WOUB-TV will continue to broadcast as we do currently – as a non-commercial public television station licensed to Ohio University that offers a full signal of digital channels and provides opportunities for hundreds of students per semester,” said Mark Brewer, general manager of the WOUB Center for Public Media.

The station also announced that it will transition to a higher UHF Channel/frequency as required by the FCC. The FCC will pay for the majority of the costs associated with the move.

“Changing position on the UHF band is something that will happen to many stations across the country and should be relatively seamless to viewers,” Brewer said. “We will still be displayed as channel 20.”

The transition will require a new transmitter and other related equipment. Per FCC rules, the station is required to have all equipment installed and operational within the next 18 months.

WOUC-TV (Cambridge)
WOUC-TV (Cambridge) participated in the Spectrum Auction and received $18.4 million dollars after the FCC accepted the station’s bid to move to a VHF frequency. WOUC-TV will continue to broadcast its services as normal; minor changes to the station’s broadcast reach are expected as the result of its move to a lower frequency.

Like WOUB-TV, the move will require the installation of a new transmitter and other related equipment within the next 18 months.

The station’s transition to a VHF frequency will be funded in its entirety by the money received from the FCC Spectrum Auction and will incur no additional debt to OHIO.

Planning for the future
With the FCC Spectrum Auction completed, Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communication, said that WOUB Public Media’s next steps include a “significant amount of engineering work within a short timeframe.”

Titsworth also stated that his team is ready to rise to the challenges ahead and praised the hard work of numerous individuals within the University community thus far.

“This process took a tremendous amount of work by station staff, and it included input from numerous individuals, including OHIO’s Board of Trustees, our President and the offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Vice President for Finance and Administration,” Titsworth said. “We look forward to continuing to serve our viewers and the area with content, services and outreach that educates, informs and inspires.”

Once station transitions have been completed, any remaining auction funds will be placed into a quasi-endowment through Ohio University. The quasi-endowment will be reserved to support WOUB’s public broadcasting community and strengthen its educational mission.

 “We will use the endowment to stay abreast of new broadcast technologies and remain cutting edge for our students and our audiences,” Brewer said.

One “cutting edge” technology on the horizon is an updated broadcast standard, ATSC 3.0, that is currently under development; it will provide all broadcasters new capabilities within their existing bandwidth and greater opportunities for WOUB Public Media.

Brewer stressed that, while both the Spectrum Auction funds and the quasi-endowment will allow his team to make technical upgrades and expand their educational services, help from the community and others remains imperative.

“The support of members, donors, underwriters and state and federal funding will remain critically important to WOUB Public Media’s continued operations,” he said.