Broadcasters mull consolidation

KTOO, two others seek ways to share administrative costs

Posted: Monday, January 11, 2010

FAIRBANKS - Representatives of Alaska's three largest public broadcasters are continuing to discuss entering into a formal partnership.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that administrators are meeting in Anchorage on Monday to discuss consolidation plans.

The general managers from KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc. in Anchorage and KTOO in Juneau are seeking ways to share administrative costs and work together to provide new content.

Another meeting is set for Jan. 20.

The consolidation talks are the latest development in a process that began last summer.

"We're still talking about whether this makes sense and how it would work," said Keith Martin, KUAC's general manager.

The stations have struggled with rising expenses in recent years. That has led to staffing cuts and less local programming, particularly on TV outlets.

A tentative plan could be solidified within a month, according to University of Alaska Vice Chancellor Jake Poole, who was the KUAC interim general manager last year and remains involved in the process

"We're in the investigation phase," Poole said. "Where do we want to be? What's the end product going to look like?"

The participants have been cautious about consolidation, with public feedback showing the need for each station to maintain a local identity.

Ideas discussed mostly have involved changes to TV management and production. Juneau and Fairbanks broadcast public television on the same channel, AlaskaOne, but it's more of a loose agreement.

It's increasingly difficult to afford TV production, even while distribution opportunities on the Internet and other new media offer a wider potential audience, said APTI general manager Steve Lindbeck.

"Hopefully, we can find a way to do together more than we've been able to do alone," he said.

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