Brief Board of Trustees meeting held to give Simon authority over TV negotiations
Update July 25, 12 p.m. — Negotiations for the potential donation of a TV broadcast license will not move forward. MSU spokesperson Jason Cody attributed the cease of negotiations to regulations from the Federal Communications Commission.
“There were some regulatory issues that as we continued to work with the donor, both sides realized it just wasn’t going to work going forward,” Cody said. “We appreciate the donor thinking of us, and at this point, this specific donation is not going to go forward.”
The MSU Board of Trustees held a special meeting Thursday to grant President Lou Anna K. Simon authority to deal with proceedings of a TV broadcast license donation. It was the only item on the meeting's brief agenda.
WHTV is a commercial TV station in Lansing licensed to Spartan-TV, LLC and affiliated with MY Network TV, according to the memorandum used during the meeting. WHTV has a "nomad license," an authorization to operate a TV station, but no spectrum on which to operate it, according to the memorandum.
WHTV might donate its "nomad license" to WKAR-TV by way of MSU. Because WKAR-TV is owned by MSU, the potential donation has to be accepted by MSU's Board of Trustees.
As determined at the Board of Trustees meeting, Simon — on behalf of the board — will have the authority to continue with negotiations for the agreement and to make any required filings with the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, that could allow the license to be approved and transferred.
Donating the station's "nomad license" would mean the university would possess WHTV's license. The donation would not include donating WHTV liabilities, buildings, equipment or other physical assets, according to the memorandum.
"This simply allows us to continue a conversation with a potential donor of a license that would allow us to use part of our own spectrum to actually broadcast commercially and include some of our programming on a must-carry cable station," Provost June Youatt said. "This is early conversation in this negotiation, but this would allow us to continue to explore whether or not this is actually feasible."
In order for WHTV's nomad license to be donated, a short-term channel-share arrangement would be entered and donation agreements would be signed to meet certain FCC requirements. The FCC will have to approve the donation if negotiations move forward.
If donated, MSU would have the option to operate the commercial station. However, accepting the donation does not require the university to operate WHTV. MSU would also have the options of returning the license to the FCC or selling the license to an interested party.
In January 2016, the FCC purchased spectrum usage rights from TV broadcasters. It was during this time that WKAR-TV was nearly auctioned off to the FCC. MSU spokesperson Jason Cody said the potential donation had no relation to that situation. However, the owner of WHTV did decide to auction off the station's spectrum at that time.
"If this goes through, we'd only be getting the license, none of the spectrum, so we'd have to use some of our current spectrum if we ever chose to use the license," Cody said.
The university is currently involved in negotiations regarding the possible donation.
"This is an opportunity to explore, but not a deal that is done," Simon said.