Goodbye Independent Public Media

April 11, 2015

Sometimes we all try things that despite our best intentions don’t work out. For Voqal, Independent Public Media was one of those things. We’re big fans of public media here at Voqal and we wanted to help preserve at risk community-based public TV stations. Thus Independent Public Media, an initiative dedicated to recapitalizing and sustaining financially strapped public television stations, was born.

Recognizing that public TV operates on channels assigned exclusively for nonprofit, non-commercial use and that the FCC is not likely to create more of these channels, we were prepared to purchase stations faced with the possibility of selling to entities that may not represent their community’s interest or risk going dark completely.

So we hired consultants and pursued deals. We even bid on a few stations, but ultimately we were unable to compete with the offers from hedge funds and the promises of lucrative payouts from the sale of spectrum.

We’re still concerned that these potential sales, especially through the upcoming 600 MHz incentive spectrum auction, threaten public television and have called on the FCC to protect the idea of universal coverage.

As the FCC’s spectrum auction gets underway, the past stories on our blog about Independent Public Media will remain, but its role as an official “initiative” of Voqal has come to an end and our website has been updated accordingly.

For all our public media friends out there fighting the good fight, we will watch with interest. We may be sitting out this round, but we will continue to champion the idea that public media is a valued, community-wide resource that should be accessible to all.

We’ve tried many ideas that take advantage of media and technology to advance social equity over the years, and some ideas work and some don’t. While we like to win here at Voqal, we know that taking risks sometimes leads to failure. And we plan to keep trying new ideas.