Rahm Turns Down Windfall
One of those stories that pops up in the comment section from time to time that catches our interest, especially where city dollars are concerned:
- The next time you hear Mayor Rahm Emanuel talk about the city’s financial problems, remember the deal he just turned down.
In response to a suggestion here Thursday that could have netted City Colleges of Chicago a cool $474 million by auctioning off the license of its little-watched public television station, the mayor flatly rejected the idea — for all the wrong reasons.
The potential windfall is being dangled by the Federal Communications Commission, which seeks to entice broadcasters to turn over spectrum space to mobile wireless providers through a voluntary “reverse auction” early next year. According to the FCC, opening bid price for City Colleges of Chicago’s WYCC-Channel 20 would be $474,185,700.
Even if the actual sale price were a fraction of that, the result would still be a massive infusion of cash for the city’s financially-strapped public college system. There’s no telling whether such an offer will ever come along again.
And as Feder points out, Rahm is turning down nearly half-a-billion for all the wrong reasons:
- Emanuel seems to think that City Colleges students who work in the Englewood studios and control rooms of WYCC wouldn’t get that hands-on experience if the station didn’t own a broadcast transmitter.
That’s simply not true.
The same programming produced by the station’s full-time staff of 37 (with an annual budget of $5.2 million) could be shifted to online streaming or moved to a public-access cable channel controlled by the city. What the mayor calls the “tremendous educational opportunity” would remain intact without using a broadcast signal that reaches a pitifully tiny audience anyway (2,200 viewers in an average quarter-hour, according to Nielsen).
That half-a-billion could fund almost two additional Malcolm Ten colleges....or make a significant dent in some outstanding pension payments coming due. And Rahm could use some of his business contacts and have the "communications majors" intern for free at any one of the media outlets around town.
Labels: money questions