Service allows stressed noncom TVs to leverage auctions


GavelPublic television stations that are struggling to stay afloat do not have to think about shutting down — Independent Public Media is offering a program that will provide operating income now for stations considering participation in the upcoming incentive auctions.

Taking advantage of this offer does not mean the station is simply extending its life until the auctions are ready to kick off. An option for such stations is to turn over spectrum for auction and enter into a channel sharing arrangement with another station.

“The FCC auction will be a globally unprecedented event that may offer significant financial rewards for participating broadcasters. Though it’s currently projected to begin in mid-2014, such a complex undertaking could take longer to get off the ground. Our goal for this program is to provide enough funding to bridge struggling public television stations to the auction,” explained Ken Devine, IPM’s chief operating officer.

IPM says part of its program will be to match up participants in a future channel-sharing agreement.

Auction proceeds will go to expenses and the repayment of IPM loans plus interest. Any excess – and IPM believes there will be more money coming in than will be required to cover the first two liabilities – will be split between the stations and IPM.

“Our objective is to help ensure that public television stations are afforded every opportunity to continue to serve their communities,” said Devine. “Unlike those parties who are interested only in the exploitation of the market value of spectrum, IPM is dedicated to preserving nonprofit public television. When financially stressed licensees look to liquidate all of their holdings for a hoped-for payday, it further threatens the underpinnings of public television.  But our financing option is an avenue for licensees to secure the funding they need to fulfill their community mandate.”