WPBT and WXEL announced today they have agreed to merge after more than a year of negotiations and planning. The two PBS stations, which are independently owned will create a single public broadcasting entity and brand called South Florida PBS.
The merger between the two stations would allow the elimination of duplicate programming and would cover a rather huge viewing area – from Key West all the way to the Sebastian Inlet in Brevard County.
Both WPBT and WXEL are privately owned not-for-profit enterprises, WPBT is owned by Community Television Foundation of South Florida and WXEL is owned by The WXEL Public Broadcasting Corporation, a Florida not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational and cultural organization.
WPBT and WXEL AGREE TO MERGE
New South Florida PBS combines to serve nation’s 7th largest TV market
SOUTH FLORIDA — July 15, 2015 – Committed to excellence in programming and extensive local and regional service, South Florida’s leading public broadcast stations have agreed to merge. The joint announcement was made today by Laurie Silvers, Chair, WPBT Board of Directors, and James Patterson, Vice Chairman, WXEL Board of Trustees.
The merger brings together the strengths of WPBT2, serving Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and WXEL-TV, serving the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast. The new entity, to be known as SOUTH FLORIDA PBS, will be Florida’s largest public media company and a powerhouse public broadcasting service, reaching from Key West in the south to the Sebastian Inlet in the north, and from the Atlantic Ocean west to Lake Okeechobee.
South Florida PBS will be well positioned to blend existing, outstanding programming from PBS with new and original programming relevant to the diverse local communities of the region on a scale beyond what has been available to date.
“This agreement presents a unique opportunity to accomplish something truly profound for South Florida,” said Patterson. “The combination of resources and talent at WXEL, WPBT2 and PBS, makes possible a new level of community involvement and leadership that will encourage young people to read and learn and expose them to cultural programming that will enrich their lives. This is a historic undertaking and level of commitment to service for the 21st century and beyond.”
“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.”
According to WPBT2 CEO Dolores Sukhdeo, the merger will virtually eliminate duplicate programming on the stations while allowing for new opportunities to reach out to the many cultures and communities throughout the combined coverage area. “The agreement allows us to work together to deliver services at a level never before seen in our region, at the same time creating a new public broadcasting model,” said Sukhdeo. “Now, as South Florida PBS, we represent the strengths and accomplishments of two great stations as we prepare to meet the future head on.”
“Both stations enjoy a rich heritage in South Florida and feel that it is important to build upon our shared traditions of educating children, celebrating the arts, and bringing viewers an incredibly wide range of science, natural history, and public affairs programming,” said Bernie Henneberg, WXEL-TV CEO. “Together, we form a strong public media company dedicated to serving the needs of all the communities we reach. This is an exciting time for viewers and supporters throughout our diverse and growing South Florida region.”
The agreement to merge has been approved by the Board of Directors of WPBT2 and the Board of Trustees of WXEL-TV, and the application for review and approval by the FCC was filed on July 14, 2015. It has been a year since WXEL and WPBT2 first shared news of potentially creating a joint entity. During that time, both stations have been deliberate and thorough in understanding what a joint organization would represent to the community.
Both stations are community licensed, not-for-profit media enterprises serving the public with high quality content from PBS, independent acquisitions and their own original productions.