PEORIA — WTVP-TV Channel 47, Peoria's public TV outlet, is getting a new spot on the dial.

Following a yearlong auction held by the Federal Communications Commission to repack the digital spectrum, WTVP will move to digital channel 35, said station president Moss Bresnahan.

The transition could take from two to two-and-a-half years but might not result in a dramatic change for viewers, he said.

"We could keep the Channel 47 label. After all, technically we're Channel 46 now," said Bresnahan, referring to the station's position on the digital dial.

Purchasing a new antenna and transmitter as well as upgrading the station's master control unit could cost upwards of $1.5 million, requiring a "significant capital fund drive," he said. The FCC will compensate stations that must purchase new equipment as a result of the realignment, said Bresnahan, noting that "probably 90 percent of the cost will be covered by auction funds."

Proceeds from the national auction that was designed to clear digital space for cellphone companies didn't result in the big payday initially expected but some TV stations fared well, he said.

"The Vermont public TV network sold one of their four stations, making $50 million," said Bresnahan.

WTVP could have other capital needs in the near future, the station manager said. Separate from the realignment dictated by the FCC auction, a new digital standard being adopted by the television industry will bring more change to the local TV scene, said Bresnahan, who also oversees the public TV station and radio complex at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"The Advanced Television Systems Committee standard means new capacity and 4K Ultra High Definition resolution. We might even be able to squeeze in a fourth channel," he said. In addition to the main station, WTVP offers two other channels on the digital dial, PBS Kids (47.2) and World/Create (47.3).

The new technology will allow the station to interact with the public in new and more efficient ways, said Bresnahan.

 

Steve Tarter covers Peoria city and county government. Contact him at 686-3260 or starter@pjstar.com. Follow him at Twitter@SteveTarter and facebook.com/tartersource.