EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – To sell, or not to sell.
That’s a decision Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon will have to make for the future of the WKAR-TV broadband spectrum.
It’s a question that those in charge of every television broadcasting station will have to answer soon.
The FCC is allowing an auction for stations to sell their bandwidth to make room on the wireless broadband spectrum.
In the spring, the FCC will open up the auction to let mobile providers buy space, which could take some TV stations off the air.
The topic was up for discussion tonight at a public forum on the campus of MSU, where many people weighed in on what they believe should happen to WKAR-TV.
If MSU decides to sell the air-space, officials say it could bring in millions of dollars for the university, as the FCC valued WKAR’s bandwidth at up to $206 million.
It’s important to note, if the spectrum is sold, WKAR-TV would go off the air, but it would still have the option of producing content online, and the sale would not affect the radio station.
Many people, who gathered inside the room tonight, aren’t very happy about the idea.
“We depend on WKAR for news and entertainment, primarily good news, but I have kind of a comment and a question, the comment is that, I know that we don’t have a vote but we vote no,” one man in the audience said.
WKAR reaches to 1.6 million people, in 19 different counties, and some of those viewers were at the meeting Monday night.
Every single seat was filled, many people raising their hands to take a stand, and have their voices heard.
“My parents have been a WKAR supporter for decades and I grew up on it,” One woman said. “So I’m very much against this, and I really don’t understand why we’re valuing spectrum over viewers.”
“The service to the students here, I mean what is this college here for if we take away one of their biggest tools,” another man said.
“What this seems to me to be, is a move to have bigger corporations in the private sector have control over our information flow in terms of our news, in terms of our programming for children,” a lady spoke.
“These are the conversations they’re having and so tonight’s statements just really helped in some ways to sort of flesh out those conversations and those arguments,” Dr. June Youatt, Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, MSU said. “I think the Board of Trustees, as they do with all of these kinds of opportunities, really had a due-diligence, a duty of care, to think about what it would mean for the institution to have that possible resource.”
“We hold the asset. It’s our airwaves, it’s our public airwaves yet we have no real power in deciding how that asset is going to be used,” one man said.
President Simon only has until January 12th to make a final decision. The day before that, on January 11th, there will be a second public forum for those who want their voices heard on this matter, but weren’t able to make it Monday night.
6 News will of course bring you up to speed with this process as it develops.