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Lehigh Valley

WFMZ-TV expansion fueled by FCC auction

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - In 2012, Congress passed the “MIDDLE CLASS TAX RELIEF AND JOB CREATION ACT OF 2012.”  In that legislation, the FCC was mandated to reclaim up to 126MHz of TV spectrum to be used for the wireless data needs of smartphones and tablets. The FCC set up an auction process to provide incentives for television broadcasters to find creative ways to adjust their transmission methods to give back the needed spectrum. That process was completed Thursday with the announcement of the list of stations that were able to sell their existing television spectrum. The vast majority of the stations that sold their spectrum were able to use funds from the auction to purchase new spectrum to broadcast their signals. An additional $7 billion was raised that will go directly back to the federal budget.

WFMZ-TV was one of the stations that were successful in selling its current spectrum and in purchasing new spectrum for its broadcast. Cable and Satellite viewers will see no change. Viewers using antennas will need to rescan their TV’s one time later this year, and from that point on, will see no change.

In addition to purchasing new spectrum to continue broadcasting in the Lehigh Valley, WFMZ-TV also purchased KJWP Channel 2 in Philadelphia with funds from the auction. KJWP Channel 2 has only been on the air for three years and presently airs MeTV. WFMZ-TV will maintain KJWP as Philadelphia’s MeTV station, and move two of its multicast channels 69.3 H&I and 69.4 Retro TV off its Lehigh Valley transmitter to KJWP Channel 2. The duopoly of WFMZ-TV and KJWP will give the company a great deal of flexibility and opportunity for growth.

WFMZ-TV’s Live App has been growing continuously. Now with over 46,000 users and over 500,000 minutes of viewing on the app each month, it is clear viewers are embracing our mobile viewing platform. That is why we will also be investing funds to expand into the OTT market this summer. This will allow viewers to see WFMZ-TV on their home streaming appliances such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Sticks, etc.

In summary, of the proceeds WFMZ-TV will receive from the auction, off the top a significant contribution will be made for roads, bridges, education, etc. via the payment of taxes on the funds. Other gains will go towards purchasing new spectrum to use for broadcasting in the Greater Lehigh Valley, the purchase of Channel 2 in Philadelphia, providing WFMZ-TV to the OTT platforms for streaming viewers, and continued improvements to the station.

WFMZ-TV President and General Manager, Barry Fisher said “we have been anticipating this result for a few years and have already increased our news and programming commitment. We have been blessed with a tremendous staff and are committed to moving WFMZ forward to continue providing the region with the best news and programming possible.”

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