Ball State will not sell its public broadcasting station, WIPB, university officials announced Feb. 13.
The university put WIPB into a Federal Communications Commission voluntary spectrum auction in September of 2015 with the potential of making hundreds of millions of dollars by selling their rights to the station.
Phil Bremen, associate professor of telecommunications, is glad to see WIPB stay.
"I’m gratified that the university has seen fit to hold onto WIPB. Over the years we’ve seen other universities sell off broadcast properties," Bremen said. "In my opinion, the resulting gain has been only short-term but at a lasting cost. I’m glad Ball State is taking a longer view."
The action was authorized by the university’s Board of Trustees to determine whether Ball State could fulfill its commitment to "quality public broadcasting" and fully achieve its academic mission, should the auction be completed.
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“We have said all along that participation in the auction is only on the condition that it advance Ball State’s mission,” Phil Repp, a university vice president and chief information officer, said in a press release. “We determined that selling the spectrum at this time would not be in the best interest of the university.”
WIPB is in the 500-600 MHz frequency range, which was under consideration for the auctions. Although the auctions are ongoing, Ball State has officially concluded its participation.
Now, WIPB will continue to operate as it has in the past, but will change its broadcast frequency, Repp said. This is the second time the FCC will move WIPB from one frequency to another, with the last switch occurring in 2007 when WIPB moved from standard definition to high definition.
The station has up to 20 months to change its frequency, and Repp said this should not result in any notable changes in the station’s reach.
The cost of the change is yet to be determined, but the FCC had set aside some money for stations that would be required to change frequencies, Repp added.
“I want to thank our loyal viewers and supporters who have stuck with us through this process and shared their thoughts, time and energy on our behalf,” Repp said. “As a public broadcasting station, we depend on, and remain eternally grateful to, our ongoing supporters.”
Currently, WIPB serves 664,000 households in a 22-county region and is hosted in the Ball Communication Building.