The University of South Florida has sold WUSF Television as part of the Federal Communication Commissions's spectrum auction.
The license for the station was sold for $18.7 million. As part of its Broadcast Incentive Auction, the federal government is buying signals from broadcasters around the country to sell to wireless network providers.
WUSF TV will go off the air at a date still to be decided. The FCC will not distribute proceeds from the auction until the entire auction is complete. USF will have up to six months after receiving the proceeds to shut down WUSF TV's broadcast operations.
WUSF 89.7 and WSMR Radio will not be affected by this sale. A number of WUSF TV and WUSF Public Media employees will be laid off.
The decision to sell WUSF TV was made by USF executives, including the Board of Trustees. USF holds the licenses of WUSF Public Media.
Lara Wade, USF Director of Media/Public Affairs, said the university is seeking support from other broadcasters in picking up WUSF TV programming.
The spectrum is the pathway on which a video signal is broadcast. When presented with the initial proposal in October 2015, the university had several options, ranging from selling the entire spectrum -- which means the station would go off the air -- or switching to another channel, or sharing a channel with another local broadcaster, or doing nothing.
The spectrum auction is affecting television stations across the nation. Several published accounts say the total amount expected to be raised is around $20 billion.
Fox Television is reporting it's expecting around $350 million from the sale of some of its spectrum, Tribune Media expects to receive $190 million, and Gray Television says it will receive $90.8 million.
Central Michigan University announced it's expecting $14 million from the sale of the signal for its public station, WFUM, in Flint.