WISC-TV rakes in $48M from frequency change

WISC-TV received just over $48 million to change its over-the-air broadcast frequency from UHF to VHF.

The station, owned by Morgan Murphy Media, plans to become more competitive with the money. Besides Madison, Morgan Murphy Media owns more than a dozen television stations, radio stations, and Madison Magazine.

The area’s local CBS affiliate applied in 2017 to participate in a “reverse auction,” where local stations bid on how much they want to get paid to free up bandwidth space on the broadcast spectrum, according to a Capital Times report. WKOW-27 (ABC) also applied but dropped out after round 24 with a bid of $72.4 million. WISC-3 hung on for two more rounds.

About 1,000 stations vacated bandwidth space to allow more room for cellular 5G technology, said to be the wave of the future.

Except for WMTV-15 (NBC15) in Madison, which has its own tower, all local broadcast stations have operated for years on a shared “candelabra” tower in Middleton. As frequency changes and upgrades began, some viewers complained about weakened or no signals, and nasty fall weather didn’t help the tower crews complete their work, but things should be back to normal soon.