Rhode Island PBS Selling Spectrum, Switching Signals For $94.4 Million

Apr 14, 2017

WSBE, Rhode Island’s PBS television station is auctioning part of its spectrum in exchange for $94.4 million.

President of WSBE, David Piccerelli, made the announcement Thursday.

The auction is part of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadcast Incentive Program. The FCC has asked television stations to give up their spectrums to make room for services that rely on the broadband- like health and public safety. In exchange for their spectrum, stations get part of the auction money from relicensing.

In a time when the future of PBS funding is unclear, Piccerrelli says the money will go to infrastructure improvements, technological upgrades, and the cost of changing signals.

Piccerrelli tells cable and satellite viewers they’ll still be able to watch Rhode Island PBS on their regularly assigned channels. Viewers who watch the station over-the- air are told they will have to scan their television sets to adjust to the newly assigned channels. But that won’t happen for another two years.

Piccerrelli says news of the auction wasn’t made public sooner because of FCC rules that prohibited disclosure.

WSBE is going into its 50th year and serves Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts.

Editor's note: Rhode Island Public Radio has no affiliation with Rhode Island PBS