New Orleans TV Channels WYES and WLAE Suspend Merger Talks | New

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Merger talks between New Orleans’ major public television stations are halted after months of negotiations, the chief of one of the channels said Thursday.

A statement from WYES President Allan Pizzato said that WYES and WLAE “could not reach agreement on a number of issues” related to the merger of operations under one company. Thus, the two parties “are no longer participating in the discussions,” said Pizzato.

“Our collective end goal was aligned,” said Pizzato. “We are disappointed because we looked forward to the potential of what the merger of the two stations could do for both of us.

“Obviously, we could have accomplished more together than alone… (but) with all of that being said, we are confident in our future and our programming. “

New Orleans’ major public television channels WYES and WLAE are in final stages of talks about a possible merger, several sources fa…

WLAE-TV chief executive Jim Dotson could not immediately be reached for comment.

The negotiations took place as about 20 public stations from other U.S. markets have merged in recent years to deal with rising costs and shrinking budgets.

WYES and WLAE operate entirely separate content production operations and television studios in the New Orleans area despite relatively similar assignments. They began to explore the possibility of combining management and facilities – while keeping channels and programming separate – in hopes of cutting costs in an environment where stations like WYES and WLAE struggled to increase their numbers. income, even before the economic downturn accompanying the coronavirus pandemic. .

Domestic funding for public television channels has also been threatened under the administration of President Donald Trump.

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While neither party provided details of the negotiations, any merger deal apparently hinged on securing funding made available through the Federal Corporation’s Collaborative Operations and Services Grant program. public broadcasting. Even being able to apply for these grants – which range from $ 200,000 to $ 700,000 – required the two stations to develop a consolidation approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC approval process can be lengthy, and with the CPB’s fiscal year close on September 30, the stations’ respective boards have viewed the final days as crucial to securing a deal.

WYES, on channel 12, was first broadcast in 1957 and is owned by the Greater New Orleans Educational Television Foundation. With recent revenues of $ 6.7 million and 24 full-time employees, she manages the national programming of local PBS shows and productions, such as “Informed Sources” and “Steppin ‘Out”.

While it is clear that the coronavirus can harm physical health, the impact of the pandemic on mental health is less obvious, but still dangerous …

WLAE, the channel 32 antenna, was broadcast in 1984 and is owned by the Educational Broadcasting Foundation, a partnership between the Catholic organization Willwoods Community and the Louisiana Educational Television Authority.

The latter runs Louisiana Public Broadcasting, owner of the state’s PBS subsidiaries outside of New Orleans.

WLAE’s programming includes the daily broadcast of a Roman Catholic Mass from St. Louis Cathedral, “John Redmann: Power of Attorney”, “Inside New Orleans Sports with Eric Asher” and “Ringside: Politics with a Punch”. He recently reported less than a dozen full-time employees and $ 2.3 million in revenue.

Previous directors had explored the idea of ​​building a shared complex about two decades ago, but Hurricane Katrina thwarted those plans.

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