The CTC Board voted Tuesday to move forward in assigning the broadcasting license of KNCT TV, their local area PBS station to Gray Television for $375,000. Gray also owns KWTX TV, the CBS affiliate in Waco.
The price, which seems ridiculously low for a TV station, has lots of baggage with it. The baggage comes with the fact that the federal agency governing broadcasting, the FCC, was under pressure to increase frequency space for “wireless” use, which is basically cell phones. There just isn’t any space left, so they decided to force TV stations to change frequencies (channel numbers).
This is an expensive process and CTC was told that they would have to “repack” and move from channel 46 to channel 17. That move was going to cost CTC about $4.4 million. The U.S. Congress appropriated enough funding to reimburse the stations for about 60% of that cost, but the station was going to have to come up with the balance of about $1.7 million. So-o, since the TV station was always in the red anyway, they decided to auction off their license for whatever it would bring. Gray Television paid $375 thousand for the license, along with its problem.
KNCT-TV is slated to go off-air tonight at midnight.
Whether the station will come back as a non-commercial PBS affiliate, or change to a commercial station, is a question in the minds of many people that are devoted to the news and public interest programming of PBS, as well as the Masterpiece series movies.