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NPR, WGBH to Acquire National Public Broadcasting

Public radio and TV, as well as new media, now have a way to get more national underwriting.

NPR and WGBH (Boston) made an offer to acquire National Public Broadcasting, a sponsorship representative for public radio and TV stations. The deal, with the amount and terms undisclosed, is expected to close by the end of October.

The parties said the majority owner of NPB, Williams Communications, has accepted the offer in principle.

Combining NPB with NPR’s corporate sponsorship division, NPR and WGBH will form a new non-profit to represent sponsorship across all media for public broadcasting. This new entity would become “the largest and most comprehensive representative for national and local public radio, television and multimedia,” said the involved companies.

The new entity would seek national underwriting for 120 radio and 60 TV stations, as well as all NPR programming and NPR.org, plus national sponsorship of “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” PBS.org, the National Public Broadcasting interactive (NPBi) and network representation of local station Web sites.

Robert Williams, who founded NPB in 1997 with his partner Linda Williams and has served as its CEO, will retain that role with the new company. NPR CEO Ken Stern will also become chairman of the board of this new entity; WGBH President-Elect and COO Jonathan Abbott, will also serve on the new board.

(Radio World)