BOWLING GREEN — At a meeting on Friday, the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees voted to authorize President Mary Ellen Mazey and her designees to participate in a Federal Communications Commission spectrum auction on behalf of BGSU. Conditional to that, the board stipulated that participation must ensure a continued broadcast presence on the part of WBGU. The scenario approved by the trustees will allow BGSU to consider bids from the commission for its 600 MHz UHF spectrum.

“The trustees have voted to allow the university to participate in the auction in a way that assures that WBGU remains on the air to serve the Northwest Ohio community,” said David Kielmeyer, BGSU’s chief marketing and communications officer.

The decision allows BGSU to potentially generate revenue from the auction while keeping the station on the air and continuing to support the University’s academic programs and provide hands-on learning opportunities for students.

“WBGU remains an important part of Bowling Green State University’s mission of education, career development and service and will continue to be a resource for the University and the community,” Mazey said.

According Kielmeyer, the board’s directive to maintain WBGU’s broadcast presence limits the university’s options to just two: channel share with an amenable broadcaster or move to the VHF spectrum.

“Both options are still on the table and we’re looking closely at them,” he asserted. “There’s probably a greater likelihood of VHF.”

Within that one option, moving the station’s presence to the VHF spectrum, there are two alternatives: setting up shop in the low end — channels 2 through 6 — or the high end — channels 7 through 13. The difference between the two is significant. Under FCC regulations, a move to the low end of the VHF spectrum costs a participating broadcaster 40 percent of the final auction price. A move to the high end, a position considered at a premium within broadcasting circles, increases the cost to 75 percent of the auction price.

While expressing his personal opinion that a move to the lower end is preferable, Kielmeyer said that participation in the sale isn’t limited to just the one possibility.

“We can enter under more than one optioin,” he said. “What we can say to the FCC is we want to participate; our first choice is low VHF, but we’d also consider high VHF. If for some reason we accept a bid number and then the FCC says there’s no bid channel available, we can go to high VHF.”

Whatever the university’s form of participation, the effects of the sale likely won’t be felt for quite some time. Representatives of both WGTE Public Media in Toledo and WFWA PBS39 in Fort Wayne remarked that the process of the reconfiguring the UHF spectrum and reblocking stations could take as long as two years.

On the subject of both WGTE and WFWA, neither of their respective boards have announced a decision as to whether they will or won’t participate in the auction.