Bill Scott, Executive Vice President, WXEL, firstname.lastname@example.org, 561-737-8000
Max Duke, VP, Content & Community Partnerships, WPBT2, email@example.com, 305-424-4014
Miami, FL – June 5, 2014 - Television history could soon be made in South Florida. Driven by a commitment to excellence in programming and enhanced local service, South Florida’s two leading Public Broadcasting stations are exploring a merger to create South Florida PBS. The joint announcement was made today by Dolores Sukhdeo, CEO, WPBT2, serving Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and Bernie Henneberg, CEO, WXEL-TV, serving the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast.
The new entity would bring together WPBT2 (Miami - Nielsen market 16) and WXEL-TV (West Palm Beach - Nielsen market 38), establishing South Florida as the 7th largest TV market in the United States. The new South Florida PBS would be a powerful Public Broadcasting service, and Florida’s largest Public Media company, blending outstanding programming from PBS with new and original programming on a scale beyond what is available today.
“This is the right time and the right place to be creative and take bold steps to serve our community. We are in a new era of communication, and there are many advantages of working together to maximize our resources to create local content and services. We have looked at the future of communication and the growing diversity of America, particularly here in South Florida, and we have jointly decided to take this first step,” said Sukhdeo.
“By taking this first step to create a new entity, we intend to bring our Public Broadcasting stations to where they can play an important role in shaping the future of public television here in South Florida. While we will continue to provide outstanding PBS programming and service to the many diverse communities from St. Lucie in the north to the Keys in the south, and from the Atlantic Ocean west to Belle Glade, we will look to and seek new horizons, new challenges, new opportunities,” added Henneberg.
The new South Florida PBS would virtually eliminate duplicate programming on the stations, produce and acquire new programs and reach out to the cultural, ethnic and racial communities they serve.
“We see a unique opportunity here to accomplish something truly profound in the world of education and entertainment and create a model for other regions across the country. The combination of resources and talent at WXEL-TV, WPBT2 and PBS can provide South Florida with a new level of community involvement and leadership that will encourage young people to read and learn, as well as expose them to cultural programming that will enrich their lives,” said James Patterson, WXEL Vice Chair.
“This merger will build upon both companies' strong traditions of entertaining and informing our culturally diverse audiences with unique quality content across a variety of broadcast and digital platforms. Together we will form a strong public media company serving the needs of all of our communities,” added Laurie Silvers, WPBT2 Chair.
This merger would be unprecedented in its enormity and impact. To get some idea of just how remarkable and powerful, ratings for Downton Abbey’s season premiere in West Palm Beach for the two combined PBS stations would have placed South Florida PBS as the fifth largest audience in America for the award-winning program.
Supporters of Public Television would be able to make a single donation to South Florida PBS and know their contribution would benefit all of the area or, if they so designated, specific areas of programming and activity. The new South Florida PBS would provide underwriters and advertising agencies with a unique opportunity to speak to the entire market, but still be able to target specific areas. Further, their messages of support would be in an environment of the greatest credibility and highest quality of any television platform.
About the Stations
WPBT2 and WXEL are community licensed, not-for-profit media enterprises serving Southeast Florida from Vero Beach to the Keys with high quality content from PBS, independent acquisitions and their own original productions.
Download a pdf of this press release here.