PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND (April 13, 2017) – In a move to
secure the future of public television in Rhode Island and southeastern
Massachusetts, WSBE Rhode Island PBS President David Piccerelli today announced
the station's successful participation in the Federal Communications
Commission's (FCC) Broadcast Incentive Auction. WSBE Rhode Island PBS will
receive $94.4 million to move its signal from its current location to a
location lower in the television spectrum.
Until recently, television stations were bound by
confidentiality agreements prohibiting disclosure of information about their
participation in the auction. The FCC lifted the restrictions on silence and
has now announced the results of the auction.
“Guided by our board of directors, we are happy to be able
to announce we took these steps in an effort to preserve the future of local
public television. The results represent a new era in technological innovation
and investment for Rhode Island PBS,” Mr. Piccerelli said.
The incentive auction is one part of the FCC plan to move
all television signals down the broadcast spectrum to free up spectrum for
wireless networks. Television signals currently span the spectrum, leaving small,
random bands between channels. Consolidation is necessary to establish
contiguous space higher on the spectrum to meet the demand for wireless
broadband use to increase their capacity. The FCC asked television stations
across the country to voluntarily sell broadcast spectrum.
Cable and satellite subscribers will continue to find the
station’s two channels at their current channel numbers. Over-the-air viewers
will be asked to re-scan their television signals to find WSBE Rhode Island PBS
Announces Participation in FCC Spectrum Auction April 13, 2017 new channel
assignments when the new transmitter is installed and operational, in about two
Proceeds from the auction will be held in a board-designated
Rhode Island PBS Foundation endowment and will cover the significant expenses
associated with the channel move, upgrades to the production and programming
equipment, and needed repairs to the physical plant. Investments in these areas
are overdue as no significant technology upgrades have occurred in more than 10
years. The balance of the proceeds will be invested in improving community
services, upgrading the education services, and expanding the station’s
production, programs, and digital capacity.
“We serve a culturally rich community and we plan to invest
in content that highlights the assets of our community. There is no shortage of
great ideas and topics; however, until now we have been financially constrained
from delivering on these,” Mr. Piccerelli said. “Our lineup of local productions
will be increased, and soon viewers will enjoy additional informative programs
like A Lively Experiment, Rhode Island Classroom, and Community Conversations.”
Although the results of the auction will allow Rhode Island
PBS to meet the upcoming extraordinary financial demands on sound financial
footing, the results do not change their fundamental needs. Ongoing program
services and expansion of public media content will require the continued
support of members, donors, and underwriters.
“These results will help Rhode Island PBS solidify our
position as a leader in our community, increase the opportunities to better
serve our community’s informational and educational programming needs, secure
the future of local public television, and allow us to be responsive to the
rapidly changing media and technology landscape,” Piccerelli concluded.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary year, WSBE Rhode Island
PBS is a community licensee, operated by the non-profit Rhode Island PBS
Foundation. A viewer-supported member of the Public Broadcasting Service, WSBE
uses the power of non-commercial media to educate, inform, engage, and inspire
viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern
Connecticut. For more information about the programs, and education and
production services at WSBE, visit www.RIpbs.org.