WMFE sells Channel 24 to WUCF
Now this makes sense. Way more sense than that weird deal that almost happened that would have put Channel 24 into the hands of an out-of-state Christian broadcasting company. WMFE announced this evening that WUCF, which took over as the region’s flagship PBS station a year ago, is purchasing the license for Channel 24. From the press release:
In a move designed to solidify the future of public television in Central Florida, WMFE and the University of Central Florida have reached a preliminary agreement for UCF to purchase Channel 24 from WMFE, cementing WUCF TV’s position as the region’s PBS affiliate.
The agreement is for $3.3 million, with payments made over a multi-year period, and includes the television broadcast license and production, broadcasting and transmission equipment. UCF would not use state or tuition funds to make the purchase.
The boards for both UCF and WMFE must approve the purchase agreement prior to it being submitted to the Federal Communications Commission.
For economic reasons, WMFE’s Board of Trustees voted last year to discontinue its television broadcasting operations, a decision that prompted UCF to partner with Brevard Community College to create WUCF TV, the community’s new and only PBS channel.
“Should the Board of Trustees approve this agreement, WUCF TV will be able to better serve the community, viewers and students thanks to UCF and PBS sharing educational and community service missions,” said Grant J. Heston, associate vice president for Communications and Public Affairs. “The community has embraced WUCF TV during our first year on air and we look forward to the opportunities this new agreement makes possible.
“Of course, none of this would be possible without our outstanding partnership with Brevard Community College and we look forward to continuing to work with BCC.”
The parties agreed to jointly announcing the news so the community understands that management of public television programming will remain local. WMFE had entertained a number of offers, but believed selling Channel 24 to a local organization already invested in PBS better served the community’s best interests.
“WMFE is committed to continuing its focus on its increasingly popular public radio programming, which includes content from National Public Radio (NPR) as well as to begin significantly expanding its local news coverage,” said WMFE President & CEO José A. Fajardo. “WMFE FM 90.7 plans to become the area’s local news destination by expanding its news department, reporting teams as well as coverage of the issues that are most important to Central Floridians.”
Said BCC Associate Vice President for Communications John Glisch: “This new venture has our full support and we are committed to assisting them to ensure a smooth transition. Once the transition is complete, WBCC will continue to offer a wide selection of education programs to Brevard County residents as it has since 1988.
“The range of shows will include art and culture, history and military, business and finance, and nature and science. There will also be children’s programming and more.” If the sale is approved locally, the FCC will then consider the purchase agreement. During that time, WUCF TV will continue normal broadcast operations. The institutions share the goal of making this as seamless a transition as possible for viewers, and will share more information when it is available.