Many small TV stations may soon be forced off the air
Maxwell C. Agha and his wife, Michelle Diaz Agha, have pumped $15 million into their small San Diego TV station over the last two decades so they could broadcast Spanish-language news, Catholic shows and local programming.
But KSDY-TV Channel 50 and many other small, low-power TV stations, which often broadcast foreign-language and religious programming, soon could be silenced — knocked off the air involuntarily by the federal government with no compensation to their owners or alternatives for their often low-income viewers.
The stations are the potential collateral damage of an ambitious attempt, set to begin next month, to transform the public airwaves for the mobile needs of the 21st century.
The Federal Communications Commission plans to use a complex auction to shift a huge swath of public airwaves from carrying TV signals to delivering wireless services to smartphones and other data-hungry mobile devices.
Because of that effort, the Aghas could face the prospect of spending millions of dollars more to keep their station on the air by moving to another channel — if one is even available after broadcasters are squeezed into a smaller chunk of the radio-wave spectrum.
If there is no free channel available, KSDY would go dark.
“They awarded these licenses and asked people to invest and now they say they can just take this and auction it and keep the money,” said Maxwell Agha, chief executive of International Communications Network Inc., which owns the station. “It’s a totally unfair process.”
The article goes on to explain that high-power stations will get a cut of the proceeds when their channels are auctioned off but not low-powered stations.