WUCF TV is poised to immerse more viewers of all ages in educational opportunities, scientific discoveries and our nation’s rich history through the purchase of WMFE television’s broadcast license.
The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees approved the purchase this morning, solidifying the future of public television in Central Florida. It will provide a stronger over-the-air signal that will expand WUCF TV’s reach and give viewers better reception for popular programs such as “NOVA,” “Sesame Street” and “American Experience.”
“PBS’ focus on education – particularly early childhood literacy and STEM disciplines – makes this an outstanding partnership for our community and university,” said Grant J. Heston, UCF associate vice president for Communications and Public Affairs. “Viewers have embraced WUCF TV during our first year on air, and this new agreement will allow us to enhance our service to Central Florida residents and our students.”
The agreement involves the television broadcast license that WMFE, the region’s former PBS broadcaster, holds for channel 24. The purchase price of $3.3 million, with payments made over three years, includes the license and production, broadcasting and transmission equipment. UCF will not use state or tuition funds to make the purchase.
The agreement will now be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, which could take several months to review the purchase. During that time, WUCF TV will continue its normal broadcast operations and current channel listings.
For economic reasons, WMFE’s Board of Trustees decided last year to discontinue its television broadcasting operations – a move that prompted UCF to partner with Brevard Community College to create WUCF TV, the community’s new and only PBS channel.
WUCF TV launched July 1, 2011, providing Central Florida viewers with uninterrupted access to PBS programming. The station currently serves more than 3.5 million people in nine counties.
The purchase will increase hands-on experiences for broadcast students working alongside the station’s staff and create more opportunities to showcase student stories and projects.
Purchasing WMFE’s license also keeps the management of public television programming local. While WMFE has had several interested buyers, its leaders believe selling Channel 24 to a local organization already invested in PBS best serves Central Florida.
“WMFE is committed to continue its focus on its increasingly popular radio programming, which includes content from National Public Radio (NPR), as well as to begin significantly expanding its local news coverage,” said WMFE President and CEO Jose A. Fajardo. “WMFE FM 90.7 plans to become the area’s local news destination by expanding its news department and reporting teams, as well as coverage of the issues that are most important to Central Floridians.”
WUCF TV’s current broadcast license is held by Brevard Community College’s public television station, WBCC, which partnered with UCF last year to provide PBS to Central Florida.
“The new venture has our full support, and we are committed to assisting UCF to ensure a smooth transition,” said BCC Associate Vice President for Communications John Glisch. “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.”
Its range of programming will include art and culture, history and military, business and finance, nature and science, children’s programming and more, Glisch added.
“WUCF TV would not have been possible without our outstanding partnership with BCC, and we look forward to continuing to work together,” Heston said.
As information becomes available during the FCC review process, it will be posted to WUCF TV’s website at http://wucftv.org.