As I reported last week, WRAS in Atlanta has agreed to simulcast Georgia Public Broadcasting content in the Atlanta area, where until now WABE has been the sole public NPR station. This new agreement duplicates NPR’s flagship shows in the Atlanta area. In the past, NPR had rules about duplication in a market, and they would facilitate negotiation between competing stations. On the other hand, Seattle and Albuquerque, just to mention two, have had duplication of NPR shows for years, and the stations still manage to stay in business. From Rodney Ho at the blog accessAtlanta.com:
In an open letter released today, Louis Sullivan, chairman of Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s board of directors, blasted the Georgia State University partnership which allows Georgia Public Broadcasting to use its 88.5/WRAS-FM’s airwaves for public radio news and talk programming 90 hours a week.About 64 percent of GPB’s programming is the same programming offered by WABE on its 90.1 FM airwaves. Sullivan calls this “an unwarranted duplication of service. It is a waste of Georgia’s tax dollars that could be better allocated elsewhere.”
Sullivan also notes that GPB is heavily taxpayer subsidized. That is not the case with WABE. While Atlanta Public Schools owns WABE, the station is self sufficient, with no reliance on APS.
“(A)t best, what can be gleaned from GPB’s financial statements is that, in 2013, GPB received $13.4 million in state appropriations, some 47% of its annual operating budget. By contrast, PBA operates a $12.6 million budget without any state or local taxpayer dollars for its operations.
The blog post finishes with a chronology of how this brouhaha has unfolded and the various protests arising from it. Stay tuned. I’m sure there will be big public broadcasting shifts in Atlanta soon.