WVIA-TV enters into channel sharing agreement with WNEP
PITTSTON — Just over a year ago, on Jan. 11, 2016, WVIA entered into a channel sharing agreement with Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC to broadcast both WVIA and WNEP television over a shared channel. This agreement was made in anticipation of a spectrum auction organized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Joe Glynn, WVIA Vice President of Engineering helped lead WVIA through the spectrum auction process. “Cable and satellite viewers will not be affected by this change. However, over-the-air viewers, approximately 18% of our total audience, will eventually be affected. When the FCC decides our new channel designation, over-the-air viewers will be notified to rescan their televisions to find our new channel placement. We estimate this will happen sometime in 2018.”
This agreement enabled WVIA to participate in the FCC’s recently completed Broadcast Incentive Auction. The FCC asked stations to sell their television spectrum to help meet the growing demand on America’s wireless networks for capacity to support the critical economic, public safety and health care needs of the country.
In order to preserve WVIA’s public service mission, the organization entered into the FCC’s Incentive Auction with a channel sharing agreement that would share the proceeds with Dreamcatcher in exchange for sharing local ABC affiliate WNEP-TV’s broadcast spectrum. WVIA expects to realize $25,967,334 in auction proceeds.
“We plan to take our auction proceeds, which is nearly $20 million after technical expenses and add it to the WVIA endowment. We plan to use the interest from the endowment to help serve the region for years to come. The interest gained annually from the endowment will be less than the $970,000 lost to state funding cuts that occurred in 2009. That cut resulted in the cancellation of a number of locally produced programs,” said Alex Fried, Chairman of the WVIA Board of Directors.
Ed Wilson, President of Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC said, “We couldn’t be happier about the partnership. We feel this arrangement is good business and this will help support WVIA’s cultural and educational mission.”
“WVIA Public Media remains committed to its public service mission. This venture will help us serve our viewers and listeners in more unique and dynamic ways. However, the basic mission of WVIA still relies on public and federal support which is critically important to cover its ongoing operating expenses,” said Tom Curr, President and CEO of WVIA Public Media.