PBS39 adds programming with donation of WYBE license

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WYBE in Philadelphia, which relinquished its spectrum during this year’s FCC auction, is donating its broadcast license to PBS39 in Allentown, Pa.

Starting Jan. 5, the stations will share PBS39’s spectrum until the FCC approves the transfer, said Tim Fallon, PBS39 CEO. PBS39 will carry the multicast World Channel, which Philadelphia primary station WHYY dropped last June to pick up the PBS Kids channel. PBS39 will also carry international programming from MHz Networks.

PBS39 wanted to preserve “the public service” provided by a noncommercial channel, Fallon said. “And we had the capacity to do this.”

WYBE is using the $131 million it received in the spectrum auction to transition into a grant-making foundation for nonprofits under the name of its licensee, Independence Public Media. WYBE, branded as MiND TV, featured short-form videos created by members of the community as well as MHz programming. WYBE’s signal overlapped with those of WHYY, WLVT and NJTV.

Former MiND TV CEO Howard Blumenthal is heading up a new educational nonprofit housed at PBS39, Media for Learning. Blumenthal said its first initiative is a global project for children and teenagers, Kids on Earth, with details to be announced soon.

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