Four more university licensees file for FCC spectrum auction, a fifth declines

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This week’s deadline for TV broadcasters to file to participate in the FCC’s spectrum auction prompted announcements from several university licensees.

Howard University’s WHUT in Washington, D.C., has filed to participate, according to a statement from its president. The opening bid for that station’s spectrum is $461 million. WIPB, licensed to Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., declared interest in participating, according to the local Star Press. The station’s opening bid is $276.8 million. KVCR in San Bernardino, Calif., also filed, reports the Los Angeles Times; opening bid, $628.5 million. WDCQ in University Center, Mich., said it would not participate, according to the Bay City Times.

UPDATE: WNMU, licensed to Northern Michigan University in Marquette, will participate, reports The Mining Journal.

Also, trustees at Central Michigan University voted last month to file with the FCC for eligibility to participate. The Mount Pleasant-based school holds licenses to five public broadcasting stations across the state. The opening bid on its flagship station, WCMU, is $143.6 million.

Stations had to file with the FCC by Jan. 12 to be eligible to participate in the spectrum auction, set to begin March 29. Those applications are nonbinding; stations may drop out before the auction begins.

Jan. 12 also signaled the start of the “quiet period,” during which stations cannot discuss auction decisions as part of the FCC’s anti-collusion rules.

Gary Epstein, chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, said in a statement that the commission is “very encouraged” by interest expressed by licensees. Up next in the auction timetable is the Jan. 26 deadline for wireless companies to file to purchase the spectrum relinquished by stations.

The FCC is conducting the auction to free up more spectrum for mobile uses. Stations can choose to sell all spectrum and give up their broadcasting license, share a channel with another broadcaster, move to a lower channel or not participate. Each choice will bring in different revenue amounts.

Related stories from Current:

Three more university licensees vote to consider options in spectrum auction

Current’s guide to the FCC spectrum auction

FCC issues initial bids for first phase of spectrum auction