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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

News

FCC approves KTRU sale


UH prepares for its new radio addition of the KTRU station after the recent news of the FCC’s approval of its License Transfer from Rice University.

“The FCC issued its Consent to the License Transfer on April 15,” said Richard Bonnin, executive director of media relations.

With this recent consent by the FCC, Bonnin explained what the next move would be for both Rice and UH.

“The next step will be for Rice and UH to set a closing date for the transaction, which should occur sometime in the next 10 days,” Bonnin said.

Bonnin mentions what will happen after the transfer.

“As I understand it, after the transfer KTRU will continue to broadcast on KPFT HD Channel 2 and online at KTRU.org,” Bonnin said.

The addition of the second radio station as KUHA 91.7 will also provide changes to UH’s other station, 88.7 KUHF.

“The contractual close of the purchase is still pending,” Bonnin said. “Upon completion, the university’s plan is for a new full-time classical music station to debut on KUHA 91.7 FM, while KUHF 88.7 FM will offer full-time news and information.”

Some of the people at KTRU, such as incoming Station Manager Kevin Bush are not too happy about the transfer.

“I remain disappointed in Rice and UH’s decision to remove KTRU 91.7 FM from the Houston airwaves, but I am hopeful that KTRU will be able to survive going forward,” Bush said. “My main objection to the sale is that it threatens KTRU’s viability as both a student organization and radio station. The secretive nature of the sale made this problem worse.”

“Removing KTRU from FM in August (when the sale was announced) without prior notice and abruptly switching to an online-only format would have been disastrous,” Bush explained further.

“While the efforts to stop the sale have not proven successful, the outpouring of support KTRU received bought us precious time and allowed us to strengthen our position for the future.”

Bush mentions there others at KTRU that have found the transfer to be bad news instead of good.

“Although the KTRU student management is extremely disappointed with the FCC’s decision, we recognized from the beginning that the FCC was unlikely to accept our petition based on precedent,” Bush said. “We continue to hope that either Rice or UH will back out of the sale.”

Though the transfer will happen by the end of the month, Bush points out a critical fact that could give UH a few problems, Bush said.

“One interesting item on page five (of the FCC’s decision), is that KUHF was allegedly missing ownership reports in its public inspection file,” Bush said. “Although this is not grounds for denying the license transfer, the Commission said it would ‘refer the matter to the Enforcement Bureau for consideration.’ UH may face disciplinary action if the Enforcement Bureau finds them in violation.”

Joey Yang, outgoing station manager and incoming DJ director, also expressed his disappointment with the situation.

“We are disappointed because we had hoped that the petition would be successful considering the FCC’s virtue of localism,” Yang said. “The decision shows their lack of commitment to diversity and local programming.”

Yang is still optimistic and hopes things will turn around because of the financial burden it would place on the university.

“From the date of the FCC’s decision, Rice and UH have 10 days to close on the transaction,” Yang said. “We are hoping that UH will realize that the decision to spend $9.5 million on a second radio station is not fiscally responsible at a time when statewide budget cuts and layoffs are affecting educational institutions at all levels. We hope that they will take a look at this decision in terms of what is best for the public, the state and the economy.”

Even though the FCC has approved the sale, other matters have to be attended to before its finalization.

“After the transfer of the license, both universities still have to come to a decision on when to transfer the frequency. We will keep broadcasting on 91.7 until they take us off the air,” Yang said. “Before the transmitter can be transferred there is asbestos work that needs to be done at the transmitter site.”

The local presence of KTRU will not completely disappear with the sale.

“We will continue streaming HD radio on HD-2 90.1 and continue looking for ways to improve our presence online,” Yang said. “We will continue giving away HD radios to our loyal listeners and have given away a large amount already. Also, possibly exploring iPhone or Android app.”

KTRU is committed to staying loyal to the locals.

“Regardless of what happens, KTRU will continue their efforts to expand the breadth and depth of the local music scene,” Yang said.


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