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Ball State's TV frequency going into federal auction

March 20, 2016

Ball State University could get millions of dollars from the federal government for selling all or part of its public television station's frequency in an upcoming auction by the Federal Communications Commission.

The university's board of trustees authorized the school this month to take part in the national sale, The Star Press of Muncie reported. The auction, set to start on March 29, will free up frequencies to be resold to wireless companies such as Verizon.

The sale could result in the school's WIPB-TV station, which currently reaches 27 Indiana counties and most of the Indianapolis area, sharing a frequency band with a different station or moving to an entirely different band.

Ball State first submitted an application to participate in the auction in January.

"We have now reached another milestone in that process that we must confirm participation to the FCC," Philip Repp, Ball State's vice president of information technology, told the board Monday.

The trustees authorized the university's administration to participate in the auction "to the extent that such participation remains consistent with the best interests of the university," including public television.

The FCC has set an opening bid of $227 million for WIPB's band, though experts have said the school will most likely not receive that much.

The auction is in a reverse format, meaning stations will indicate progressively lower prices they are willing to sell for until the FCC accepts.

But Ball State is not guaranteed to sell its spectrum. Since stations across the country are planning to participate in the auction, the FCC expects to buy spectrum in the largest markets until it meets its target amount

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