Despite ongoing protests from KTRU fans, Rice University students and alumni, Rice University has gone through with their plan to submit an application to the FCC in order to transfer ownership of KTRU’s FM frequency and license to University of Houston. With this purchase, University of Houston plans to expand its public radio offerings by adding a full-time classical music station. Rice University has agreed to let KTRU continue as an Internet-only station.
The group Friends of KTRU has hired a law firm in order to work on a formal objection to the sale and Save KTRU will be providing details about the best way to protest this sale in the coming days. They’ve set up a new email list in order to keep KTRU supporters informed throughout this process.
In the meantime, the 30 day public comment period has begun; so interested parties are invited to submit their written objections to the sale to the FCC.
An item on Radio Business Report states that the sale price has gone up in order to include some student internships at the new station. It also mentions that the station could perhaps have been saved if students had voted to increase a “blanket tax.” Radio Business Report writes:
“Rice President David Leebron said that the students themselves declined to accept an increase in their ‘blanket tax’ from $5.50 to $7.50 which would have allowed the station to meet increasing operating costs. He also said that it was important to cut a deal while the station had value.
In the end, the reported price tag of $9.5M has been increased with a $432K sweetener for Rice in the form of student internships. UH will provide six paid intern positions for Rice students at the station over the course of three years, an investment which will total the aforementioned $432K in compensation for the students getting the position.”
David Leebron goes into more detail about the “blanket tax,” in a piece in the Rice Thresher from August 27th, in which he explains that the lack of student support for the tax (which would have benefitted KTRU) helped confirm beliefs held by those investigating the station sale. Critics have pointed out, though, that 55% of students who voted supported the tax (a 2/3 majority was needed to win), so student support of the station can still be considered strong.
For an insider look at some of the shenanigans that have taken place leading up to this moment, you can take a look at scans of various KTRU Sale-related documents that Jim Ellinger of Austin Airwaves obtained through an Open Records Request from University of Houston. Documents are posted at the Keeping the Public in Public Radio blog, which plans to keep adding more scans from the 155 pages obtained by Jim Ellinger.