South Florida’s public broadcast stations WPBT2 and WXEL-TV have agreed to merge and applied for FCC review.
WPBT2 serves Miami-Dade and Broward counties and WXEL-TV serves the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast. The new entity, which will be known as SOUTH FLORIDA PBS, will be Florida’s largest public media company, with a reach from Key West in the south to the Sebastian Inlet in the north, and from the Atlantic Ocean west to Lake Okeechobee, the stations said Wednesday.
The joint announcement was made by Laurie Silvers, chairwoman of WPBT2’s Board of Directors, and James Patterson, vice chairman of WXEL’s Board of Trustees.
“Board members, supporters and station leadership at both these established and honored PBS affiliates are excited by the potential of South Florida PBS,” said Silvers. “The joint efforts of the two stations will benefit every segment and demographic of the region, bringing education, information and enlightenment to the area using new technologies, as well as traditional broadcasting service.”
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Max Duke, vice president of content and community partnerships for WPBT2, said that after the merger the combined audience reach of the new market would be 2.42 million viewers. It would leave two public stations in the marketplace, SOUTH FLORIDA PBS and WLRN.
When the merger is complete, WPBT2 CEO Dolores Sukhdeo will be CEO of SOUTH FLORIDA PBS, and Bernie Henneberg, WXEL-TV CEO, will become its president and CFO, Duke said.
The agreement to merge has been approved by the boards of WPBT2 and WXEL-TV, and the application for review and approval by the FCC was filed on Tuesday. The FCC review process typically takes six to nine months, and then the programming details can be finalized, Duke said. “However, during this time frame we can share ideas, engage the communities and do some great planning together,” Duke said.
WXEL and WPBT2 first announced news of potentially creating a joint entity a year ago. During that time, both stations began exploring what a joint organization would bring to their communities.
“We are both very active in local production and over the past year we have been found that we are very much of like minds in wanting to do more local programming and tell better local stories,” Duke said.
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