WNYE-TV won’t participate in FCC spectrum auction

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New York City will not sell the spectrum of its public broadcaster WNYE-TV in the FCC auction, though the station is estimated to have one of the highest values in the nation.

In a letter last July to the FCC, according to the Wall Street Journal, Maya Wiley, an attorney in the mayor’s office, said the city was “contemplating the potential benefits of relinquishing [WNYE’s] license in the auction.” But now, the Journal said, the city “has decided not to cash out.”

The FCC’s opening bid for WNYE to relinquish all its spectrum is $770.2 million. New York City contains several top bids, including WCBS, the highest at $900 million.

WNYE began in 1952 as an educational station licensed to the city’s Department of Education and gradually grew to include PBS programs. In 2004, that department transferred the license to the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, and PBS content was phased out. The station now airs largely local productions and programs from other public TV distributors.

The FCC auction, which will free up broadcast spectrum for wireless providers, begins March 29.