Chicago’s WYCC may participate in upcoming FCC spectrum auction

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The board of City Colleges of Chicago has approved the participation of public TV station WYCC in the upcoming FCC spectrum auction.

WYCC broadcasts mainly educational programs such as telecourses. Other local public broadcasters in the market are major station WTTW and Lakeshore Public Television, based in Merrillville, Ind.

The FCC’s opening bid for WYCC to relinquish all spectrum is $474.2 million. Spectrum proceeds from the station could help the financially strapped organization of seven community colleges throughout the city.

The Chicago Tribune backed the idea last fall, writing in an editorial: “There are other ways to teach college kids the media business besides operating a little-watched TV station via the 20th century technology of a broadcast transmitter and rabbit ears.” But back then, a City Colleges executive said the organization would not participate.

Chicago media columnist Robert Feder broke the news of the board’s decision last week.

Stations have until March 29 to file final paperwork to participate in the auction, which is scheduled to start that day. The FCC is auctioning off broadcast spectrum to sell to wireless providers, who will use the bandwidth for the increasing number of mobile devices.

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