Michigan licensee sells TV station for $14M in spectrum auction

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Central Michigan University will receive $14 million for its Flint public television station, WCMZ, in a sale resulting from the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction.

The transmitter broadcasts from Bay City to metro Detroit. It will go dark in about three months, according to an announcement Wednesday by the university.

WCMZ’s coverage area overlaps with those of Detroit Public TV, WDCQ in University Center and WKAR in East Lansing. According to the university, 99 percent of viewers in Flint also receive those stations.

CMU’s board will determine how to invest the revenue.

The school is the first public television licensee to announce auction revenues. The FCC lifted a so-called “quiet period” Tuesday, allowing licensees to discuss deals. Buyers have not yet been made public. The auction is freeing up broadcast spectrum for use by mobile providers.

CMU Public Broadcasting will continue to operate four TV stations across the state as well as its radio stations.

CMU President George Ross called the decision “difficult.” He said it was made because Flint viewers receive other stations and the board decided to prioritize serving students as its “core mission.”

CMU purchased the station for $1 million in 2009 from the University of Michigan. The announcement said that the university spends more than $3 million a year on its public broadcasting system.

The station began broadcasting as WFUM in 1980. Its call letters changed to WCMZ with the 2009 sale.

Correction: An earlier version of this post did not include the station’s 2009 change in call letters.

2 thoughts on “Michigan licensee sells TV station for $14M in spectrum auction

  1. So what we’re saying here is a public TV station accepted $14 million to sign off to make room for Verizon and AT&T’s wireless needs while also stating that 99% of its audience considered the signal redundant all along. One wonders what the alarmist pledge drives sounded like and whether viewers in Flint that donated to the station might at least get their donated funds back now that CMU has a nice windfall for itself. You can be sure this will have no effect on tuition rates.

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