Harker Heights-area residents will no longer be able to tune in to the local Public Broadcasting Station this fall, as KNCT-TV will cease broadcasting at midnight Aug. 31.
The Central Texas College Board of Trustees announced the decision Tuesday, during its June workshop.
The board voted not to move the public television station to another channel in February 2018 as required by the Federal Communications Commission, which meant the station would go off the air, at some point.
The channel change was a result of the broadcast spectrum incentive auction last year. The auction forced the FCC to repack certain television stations to channels 14-35.
At channel 46, KNCT was scheduled to be one of the television stations ordered to move. The TV station would have been forced to move to channel 17 by March 2020, which would have incurred procedural costs.
The board originally assumed the FCC would cover the full $4.4 million cost of the move, but CTC was set to only receive 60 percent of the cost. The college would have faced expenses of $1.76 million to complete the mandated change.
The TV station has incurred an average annual loss of $418,000 over the past five years, according to school officials.
Up to 12 positions will be eliminated in the radio/television program, including three to four full-time employees. The staff reorganization will leave five full-time employees and one part-time employee.
Some employees will be retained to assume currently vacant positions, according to Max Rudolph, RTVF department chairperson. The college will save an estimated $483,503 from the salary and benefit cuts.
CTC will continue to offer local programming via internet streaming and social media outlets. KNCT will provide information on how viewers can receive PBS programming on the station website and through on-air announcements in late July and August.
“The board had to make a tough decision,” Rudolph said. “I think they made a good one in line of what students’ needs are, and in line of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
The decision will not impact the radio/television academic program, according to a news release from CTC.
Beginning with the fall 2018 semester, the program will be renamed the Communication and Media Technology program and placed under the Business Administration department.
KNCT-FM 91.3 public radio is not impacted by the decision. The radio station will still push CTC advertisements with the loss of the public TV station.
Enhanced video production for the CTC website and social media will be geared toward the college’s targeted demographic of 18 and 19-year-olds.
Rudolph said there is “no comparison” when officials compare website view numbers to KNCT-TV viewers.
CTC graduation ceremonies could possibly air on the Killeen Independent School District’s cable channel, according to Rudolph, who said KISD has offered its usage.
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