WGBH News and Media Relations

 

April 13, 2017

WGBH to Enhance Local Content and Services, Strengthen Endowment with Proceeds from Participation in FCC Spectrum Auction

 

Stations will switch frequencies, continue to provide full array of services 

BOSTON (April 13, 2017) – The WGBH Educational Foundation is among the hundreds of television licensees across the country, commercial and non- commercial, that participated in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction of broadcast spectrum.

The Foundation, which operates public TV stations WGBH 2 in Boston and WGBY 57 in Springfield, exchanged their current assignments on the UHF band (ultra- high frequency) for the VHF band (very high frequency), since the UHF band was in demand for wireless use. The Foundation will receive a one-time payment of $161.7M for the WGBH spectrum, and $57M for the WGBY spectrum. This will not change the broadcast services offered by the stations, all of which will continue.

“For more than 60 years, the WGBH Educational Foundation has been serving our communities as a trusted resource, and this funding will help assure that continues for decades to come,” said WGBH Board of Trustees Chair Richard Burnes. “We felt the spectrum auction was a unique opportunity, knowing we could continue to provide all of our public media services to viewers, and simultaneously support and strengthen this valued organization.”

The Foundation will use the proceeds to expand its educational services to children and students, further its in-depth journalism, and strengthen its modest endowment.

All TV licensees were encouraged to free up spectrum for the FCC to re-allocate for wireless use, as part of the National Broadband Plan. Participants in the auction are being compensated based on the value of the spectrum, as determined by the bidding of wireless and communications companies.

“From WGBY in western Massachusetts to WGBH in greater Boston, we are committed to serving audiences and educators across the Commonwealth and New England,” said WGBH President and CEO Jon Abbott. “This one-time infusion of funding through the FCC spectrum auction will complement, but won’t replace, the federal funding and the annual support we continue to rely on from our audiences and the community, who value the educational programs and services we provide,” he said. “We’re grateful to our Board for their leadership through this process.”

The move of WGBH and WGBY to VHF will not affect their services to audiences, who will continue to find them as designated by their cable or satellite provider, or via over-the-air broadcast. The Foundation will continue to provide the full array of broadcast offerings it has in the past, with potential for more in the future. In addition to channels 2, 44 and 57, these currently include WGBH Kids, the Boston Kids & Family Channel, WGBY Kids, World, and Create.

The need to continue public broadcasting’s funding model of annual support from individual donors, foundations and businesses was underscored by WGBH COO Ben Godley. “Compared with other non-profits of our size, WGBH has a very modest endowment to draw on, which currently contributes just 1.5% toward our annual budget. These auction proceeds are a vitally needed addition to that, providing us a more sustainable financial base to maintain our leadership role in producing public radio and TV programs and content for millions of Americans, locally and nationally,” he said.

WGBH was originally assigned by the FCC to the VHF band when it went on the air in 1955, and operated there until it was re-assigned to the UHF band in the digital transition in 2009. The Foundation also operates WGBX 44, which remains in the UHF band.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, NOVA, American Experience, Masterpiece and Antiques Roadshow, as well as lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, supplying content to PBS LearningMedia, a free national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. More info at www.wgbh.org. 

 

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Ellen London
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Emily Balk
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