GPB pockets $20 million from auction of spectrum space from two TV stations

This was posted Friday, April 21, 2017 by Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Georgia Public Broadcasting has pocketed $20 million from auctioning off spectrum space for two of its TV stations in North Georgia and Columbus.

Through this auction, the Federal Communications Commission has freed up noncommercial spectrum space that telecom companies such as Verizon and T-Mobile desperately want. Current.org estimated that various parties paid a total of $1.9 billion for 34 noncommercial TV stations’ spectrum space nationwide.

Mandy Wilson, a GPB spokeswoman, said the two stations will convert to a different frequency and viewers in those areas will not notice any difference.

GPB covers the entire state with nine television stations including WGTV Channel 8 in Atlanta and 18 radio stations, including local station 88.5/WRAS-FM for most of the day. It’s not to be mistaken with Public Broadcasting Atlanta, which has a single radio station (90.1/WABE-FM) and TV station (WPBA-FM Channel 30).

Wilson said of the $20 million windfall, $7 million will go into required FCC upgrades regarding a shortening of the spectrum band. The other $13 million will be used, she said, to upgrade aging radio infrastructure and invest in digital education initiatives.

She expects the $20 million to come in during the first quarter of 2018.

Federal and state funding provides more than half of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s $34.5 million annual budget.  The rest comes from foundations, underwriting and individual donors. The extra money should help the organization’s balance sheet. During the fiscal year 2016 ending June 30, 2016, GPB spent $3 million more than it took in.

 

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