WQED-TV (13) will soon be able to completely retire its long-term debt after having participated in the FCC’s spectrum auction. The sale of its “channel 13” spectrum (which one might remember is a frequency of 210 to 216 MHz) will rake in $9.9 million – enough to retire its debt and have a couple million left over. In exchange, the station will have to move to a lower broadcast frequency which will happen in 2 to 3 years. The change will take place mostly behind the scenes, the station will still identify as “channel 13″and most changes will affect the over the air viewers who will have to rescan their digital boxes and televisions.
According to the Post-Gazette, the auction was conducted to clear space on the broadcast spectrum for wireless devices. The movement is likely to make room for seven new license blocks in the Pittsburgh market each of which will probably sell for upwards of $16 million. Dozens of stations in the Pittsburgh market were eligible to participate but only WQED opted to share the fact that they participated and how much they are expected to make. A station could sell their entire spectrum space, share with another station, or move to a different frequency
Before the stations were required to sign off their analog signals in 2009, WQED operated analog on 13 and digital on channel 38 with the intention of moving its digital signal back to 13 when the analog signal was turned off. It still owned the WQEX channel 16 at the time whose digital signal was on channel 26. It was then moved to channel 38 where WINP, now a commercial station, operates as virtual channel 16.