Post-Auction Shutdowns Set For PBS Affiliates


By Adam R Jacobson

TEMPLE TERRACE, FLA. — wusf_tvTo the disappointment of many in the Tampa Bay region who took out their frustration via online comments, a Top 20 DMA will bear one less station very soon.

In an announcement made late Wednesday, The University of South Florida says it has sold WUSF Television as part of the FCC’s spectrum auction.

The license for the station was sold for $18.7 million, WUSF News reports.

WUSF-16 is largely considered the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater DMA’s second public television station, after PBS giant WEDU-3.

WUSF airs PBS’s Kids, Create and Knowledge networks on its DT-2, DT-3, and DT-4 channels, respectively.

WUSF TV will go off the air at a date still to be decided, the university said, explaining that the Commission will not distribute proceeds from the auction until the entire auction is complete.

A closure is not expected for quite some time, giving effected staff the opportunity to consider new opportunities throughout 2017: USF will have up to six months after receiving the proceeds to shut down WUSF TV’s broadcast operations.

The University of South Florida is home to the market’s largest noncomm — NPR News/Talk WUSF-89.7. It also operates Classical WSMR-89.1, a Sarasota-licensed Class C1 facility that reaches only southern Pinellas County and not the Tampa-St. Petersburg market. USF’s radio operations are not impacted in any way by the spectrum auction.

The decision to sell WUSF TV was made by USF executives, including the Board of Trustees.

USF holds the licenses of WUSF Public Media.

Lara Wade, USF Director of Media/Public Affairs, said the university is seeking support from other broadcasters in picking up WUSF TV programming.


In Flint, Mich., programming from WCMU-14 in Mount Pleasant, Mich., has served as a PBS members station for local TV viewers, rebroadcasting its programming on WCMZ-28 via a unique programming arrangement that started seven years ago.

On Jan. 15, 2010, Central Michigan University took over the operations of then-WFUM-TV in Flint, which the University of Michigan-Flint sold to CMU for $1 million.

While Mount Pleasant is part of the Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Mich., DMA, Flint viewers have alternative access to PBS programming. This led CMU to give up WCMZ, and expects to receive $14 million for the UHF facility.

Unlike WUSF Television, CMU’s television operations will continue as WCMZ was largely a satellite station.

Not impacted are three other satellites of WCMU: WCMV serves Cadillac and Traverse City, Mich.; WCML serves Alpena and Petoskey along with Cheboygan and the Straits of Mackinac; and WCMW serves the Lake Michigan communities of Manistee, Ludington and Pentwater, all of which are on the edge of the Grand Rapids market.