Shenandoah Valley Educational Television Corporation Announces WVPY Broadcast Spectrum Sale Share of Proceeds to Help Strengthen Local Public Media


Shenandoah Valley Educational Television Corporation (SVETC) announced today that its bid has been accepted and it has successfully sold one of its broadcast licenses, WVPY, in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auction.

As a result of the sale, WVPY will go off the air in the Washington, DC-Hagerstown, Md. viewership area. Local viewers of WVPY will continue to be served by Harrisonburg, Va.-based WVPT, which is accessible throughout the region via cable, satellite, internet, and over-the-air antenna reception.

“The sale of WVPY’s spectrum enables us to deepen our commitment to our educational and public service mission, while adapting to new technology that will make the experience for our viewers more interactive and dynamic,” said Neal Menefee, Chairman of the SVETC Board of Directors. “The community’s support for WVPT, along with federal funding received through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, remains vital as we extend our nearly 50-year legacy of service in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia well into the future. Since our founding, public media has existed to serve our community, and that mission will continue to guide us as we move forward.”

 

In the coming year, WVPT will be repacked to a new channel, as required by the FCC. This will cause no disruption of service and will not affect WVPT’s coverage area. In addition, there will be no job losses as a result of the spectrum sale.

Shenandoah Valley Educational Television anticipates that it will receive $8.1 million in net proceeds from the sale. These funds will be invested to support WVPT’s educational and public service mission, in addition to operational functions, new projects and productions as well as capital improvements.

More information with respect to the FCC’s Broadcast Spectrum Auction, the sale of WVPY broadcast spectrum and our decision to participate in the in Broadcast Spectrum Auction, please consult:  www.wvpt.net/wvpyspectrum.

 

WVPY Spectrum Auction - What is it

WVPT Repackaging

WVPY Reverse Auction

What Is the Spectrum Auction?
The Spectrum Incentive Auction:
The Spectrum Auction is a two-part Incentive Auction. First, TV broadcasters that voluntarily relinquish spectrum they use to broadcast their TV channels will be paid for it by the FCC through a bidding process called a Reverse Auction. Then, once the UHF spectrum is obtained by the FCC, wireless carriers enter into a Forward Auction to bid on and purchase the spectrum they would use for mobile broadband connectivity. The difference between the price the FCC pays TV broadcasters for their spectrum and the price the wireless carriers pay the FCC for it could potentially reduce the national budget deficit by $10 billion. Some of the freed-up spectrum will also be used for a nationwide public safety wireless network. During the Spectrum Auction, the FCC seeks to obtain a contiguous 126 MHz band of spectrum across the country to make new wireless technology available to nearly everyone.
Why Was the Auction Mandated?

The Setting:
The United States has been a world leader in 4G wireless communications with a multitude of devices, including computers, cell phones, tablets, smart watches and baby monitors, to mention just a few. We are able to lock our front doors from our smart phones and watch and record video captured by nanny cams we install in our homes. We watch our favorite television programs on demand on our wireless devices. And think of the apps we use! All of this is possible using spectrum – the term for the frequencies (also called bandwidth and broadband) over which wireless mobile signals are transmitted. As wireless carriers (telephone service providers) look forward to 5G connectivity possibilities, allowing us to do even more with our smart phones and other wireless devices, more spectrum is needed for wireless connectivity.

Legislative History:
To help fulfill our country’s need for greater wireless access, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) 2010 National Broadband Plan called for freeing up more spectrum for wireless broadband use. In February 2011, President Obama unveiled a Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative (Wi3) that set a goal of wireless broadband coverage for 98 percent of Americans within five years. Wi3 aimed to free spectrum via incentive auctions, create a nationwide public safety wireless network, and raise nearly $10 billion for deficit reduction. On February 22, 2012, Congress authorized the FCC to conduct a voluntary Spectrum Incentive Auction to reorganize the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHS) spectrum, freeing up UHF spectrum needed for increased wireless mobile broadband demand and moving UHF TV broadcasters to the VHF spectrum.

The Possible Options
Broadcasters' Options & Viewer Impact:
TV broadcasters had multiple options to consider, each affecting their over-the-air viewers. They could decline participation in the Spectrum Auction and not relinquish their broadcast spectrum for purchase by the FCC, but almost certainly be assigned a different spectrum location. This option would involve channel changes for the viewer. The stations' broadcast coverage areas could remain virtually unchanged.

TV broadcasters could decide to relinquish a portion of their spectrum, especially in areas that are served by multiple broadcasters of the same network. Network programming could be seen on another local affiliate and the unique programming seen on the station relinquishing its spectrum could be streamed on demand online.

TV broadcasters could Channel Share, several going together to share some of their TV spectrum and to relinquish some of their spectrum. In this scenario, viewers could see different programming on the remaining channels. There would be channel number changes. And, if a TV station moves its transmission facilities to a new location to channel share, some of its viewers may no longer be able to receive it over-the-air.

TV broadcasters could decide to relinquish all of their spectrum and become solely internet broadcasters, still providing their “television” programs, but “broadcasting” them on demand via the Internet to be received on computers, smart phones, tablets and other wireless devices. If this is done in a market with multiple affiliates of the same network, viewers would be able to watch their favorite network programs on another station and watch unique local programming on demand online.

In areas that receive fewer TV channels to start with, viewers may not receive their favorite programming over-the-air if the station broadcasting it decides to become solely an internet broadcaster and there is no other affiliate of the same network broadcasting over-the-air in that area. Viewers will, however, be able to view that programming online.

A requirement today for a station to be a member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is that all PBS member stations must operate a broadcast transmitter providing one free over-the-air TV signal. Only then can a TV station be a PBS member station and broadcast PBS programming. At present, when TV stations become internet broadcasters, relinquish their spectrum, and shut down their transmitters, they also relinquish their PBS membership and their ability to broadcast PBS programming.

Cable & Satellite Viewing:
For cable and satellite companies to continue carrying certain TV channels in their lineup, those TV stations must continue broadcasting their signals over-the-air via a transmitter and the signals must be received at the cable and satellite company's local receive site. For cable companies, a TV signal must reach the cable system's master facilities (which not only receive television signals, but process
and distribute them over that particular cable system). Since every effort is being made for a repacked TV broadcaster to operate the same coverage area, cable and satellite coverage may not drastically change.
The Decision to Relinquish WVPY
In its deliberations, the SVETC Board of Directors considered many factors when deciding the future of WVPT and WVPY:
1. Research on how WVPT/WVPY viewers have received their Public Media the last few years found that very few people rely on over-the-air reception with an antenna. Most traditional viewers watch television via Cable and Satellite services. It is estimated that less than 10 percent combined viewership between WVPT and WVPY watch with an over-the-air antenna.
2. Another clear point from the regional research was the fact that more and more viewers are taking advantage of the wvpt.net web channel and have been watching WVPT On Demand at video.wvpt.net. As fewer TV viewers watch over-the-air with an antenna, each month many of them, along with new viewers, are turning to online viewing of WVPT with smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
3. A major factor for WVPT/WVPY to participate in the Spectrum Auction was the release of a new, non-compatible digital TV conversion standard – ATSC 3.0 – after the Spectrum Auction concludes. All remaining stations must convert to this standard in order to remain on the air and remain competitive in their local markets. This means that all WVPT and WVPY transmitters would have to be replaced. Given the choice to invest in additional, over-the-air broadcast transmission equipment or in the new, mobile-friendly Internet model of program distribution, the choice was made to focus on creating content the community desired, while avoiding the cost of new broadcast transmission delivery by using online and mobile options.
4. The Board of Directors made a conscious decision to move to an Over the Top (OTT) form of digital distribution. OTT digital distribution is based on using a local Internet provider to deliver program content anytime, anywhere, on any device, as well as on any device or technology of the future. With this new distribution model, the station's program production strategy becomes a “Digital First” concept, moving away from traditional over-the-air broadcasting.
5. And those viewers who watch WVPY (serving Front Royal/Winchester) over-the-air also receive PBS programming on WETA/Washington, WHUT/Washington, Maryland Public Television, and West Virginia Public Television. With WVPY's spectrum relinquished and its transmitter shut down, most viewers will still receive PBS programming over-the-air on one or more PBS member stations. WVPY's own unique local programming has been and will continue to be available online at wvpt.net and video.wvpt.net for viewing at any time. The programming viewers in the Front Royal/Winchester area watched over-the-air as WVPY will continue to be carried in the Winchester area on Comcast and Shentel cable systems as WVPT. WVPT viewers can still watch the programs they had come to love, regardless of the source!

With this research in hand, the Board chose to relinquish the WVPY station license and spectrum.
The Result of the Spectrum Auction
Impact on WVPT/WVPY:
The Board of Directors of the Shenandoah Valley Educational Television Corporation (SVETC), the parent company of WVPY Front Royal carefully considered the northern Virginia market and determined the enterprise was unsuccessful at competing with the multiple PBS stations in the overlapping market that were all serving the area.

The reasons for this were:
The start-up, maintenance, and continued operational costs to run the transmitter in the market greatly out weighed the donations during the last twenty years of WVPY's operation.
In addition to WVPY, there are currently four other PBS member stations licensed and operating in the same area. WETA Washington, West VA Public Television, Maryland Public Television, and WHUT, Clark Howard University Public Television.
WVPY found that our broadcast signal wasn't able to reach the downtown Washington D.C. area while all the other stations covered this area with no issues. For WVPY, this was found to be due to the challenges in the very mountainous terrain.
A year and a half ago, Dish and DirecTV satellite providers dropped WVPY from their program lineup stating that WVPY was no longer eligible for carriage on satellite since they couldn't pick up the transmitter on Signal Knob serving Front Royal.
Both satellite providers also indicated that all five of the PBS member stations carry the same program schedule for the most part of their required PBS member contract agreements.

The Spectrum Auction revenue of 8.1 million dollars will insure that public media in the core service area, the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville will be vibrant and active today and well into the future. The endowment provides the framework for WVPT to further engage the community in an interactive, ongoing, regular basis, evaluating current and future, ever-evolving technology as an enabler for the delivery of interactive media. Public Media's unique local content legacy and the ability to provide localized, community, family friendly events as a complement of the program schedule will be a priority.
The Future of WVPT
The Shenandoah Valley Educational Television Corporation (SVETC) is very focused on finding new ways to serve communities throughout the region. To determine how best to serve its audience, the staff and SVETC Board of Directors, with consultant David Moore of Harwood Institute, conducted a series of Community Conversations across the WVPT viewing area during the last several years. Citizens representing a cross-section of those living in the station's coverage area met to discuss WVPT's unique niche in the community and any new areas of service WVPT should explore.

Based on these continuing and on-going Community Conversations, WVPT Public Media is considered a storyteller of unique ability and scope. Time and again, participants relayed how WVPT was uniquely able to feature and celebrate the history, legacy and charm of the area; to tell success stories – both on the individual and corporate levels; and to be more interactive, more local, and more inclusive. At issue is equal education and equal opportunities for everyone, celebrating diversity, creating unity among those with differing opinions, and putting a public face on people in every facet of life to encourage and help recognize the positive contributions made by local citizens every day.

Before the Spectrum Auction, WVPT Public Media has already begun to respond to this input with “Hey Virginia,” a new series produced by WVPT that showcases upcoming events; explores the region's fascinating locales, people, and stories; and serves as a platform for local artists, musicians, and all things "Virginia." The multiple segments in each hour-long program are presented in a new, distinctive, and fun way, offering a fresh perspective on tomorrow’s adventures.

With the Spectrum Auction revenue and members' continued support, WVPT Public Media is on the cusp of an exciting future with programs and services as accessible as the smart phone in your pocket! WVPT's mission is to inform, entertain, and inspire viewers in whatever form of delivery is available. Today this is TV, as well as online and mobile devices and we will continue to evolve to new technology for distribution models of the future, not only in Virginia but around the world!

WVPT's Coverage Area:
WVPT's over-the-air broadcast coverage area consists of Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Amherst, Nelson, Albemarle, and Greene Counties and fringe areas beyond. The signal is also carried on cable in Charlottesville, Lexington, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, Staunton and Front Royal/Winchester. WVPT is carried on Dish and DirecTV in the Staunton/Harrisonburg Designated Market.

Repacking:
Whether broadcasters elect to participate in the auction or not, the FCC will move the channels of most TV broadcasters. Reassigning TV stations' allotted spectrum and channel numbers is the Repacking stage. The Repacking is to be done after the auction is completed to free up spectrum that the wireless carriers will purchase and to better organize remaining spectrum to accommodate TV broadcasting now

WVPT's coverage area

To serve the public through active community engagement and by providing trusted and valued services and high quality content to educate, enlighten, lead, inspire and entertain.

Support WVPT:

Media doesn't work without YOU, the PUBLIC. WVPT no longer receives state funding to sustain our operations. In fact, the majority of the station's support comes from viewers like YOU!

DONATE

Connect With WVPT: