Like other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Howard University is undergoing touch economical struggles. And because desperate times call for desperate measures they are currently seriously considering the sale of their television network, WHUT. However, due to the fact that it is currently the only black owned public television station in the entire country, mixed opinions are being voiced on the decision.
Howard University Television made it’s debut in November if 1980 and now 35 years later, the network reaches about 2 million people in the Washington DC area.
Ever since the first broadcast, WHUT has taken a strong stance on on sharing the stories that mainstream television typically doesn’t touch on. The spectrum takes pride on giving priority to local issues and minority voices that are not often heard elsewhere.
Also the station has been source for internships and employment to students majoring in anything revolving around communications media, film and broadcasting.
The sale has a potential of bringing the university hundreds of millions of dollars which could drastically help out in areas of need. However the issue lies that although bringing in much needed funds it could be at the expense of losing the voice of minorities and the ownership of something rare.
According to the NY Times, Howard has several options regarding WHUT. It could sell the spectrum outright and shut down the station, trade the spectrum for a less-valuable frequency type and smaller payout or not participate in the auction, which is scheduled to begin March 29. The university could also try to take a middle course with a channel-sharing agreement that would allow WHUT to stay on the air as something like a renter on another broadcaster’s spectrum space rather than an owner.
Howard is caught between a rock and a hard place and it seems like a pretty tough decision to make. By selling WHUT, they will shut down a valuable media outlet that covers community news and Black issues. But the sale could generate millions of dollars for the college.
At any rate, the ultimate decision about the station rests with the university’s president, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, and the board.
If you had a voice on the deciding committee which direction would you vote for in this situation?