CPB is publicly announcing its grant of more than $6.6 million to consolidate broadcast operations of nine New York public television stations, plus New Jersey's pubTV network, into a single entity. The grant will allow the stations to build and manage an automated central master control — a CPB priority in recent years — which will handle on-air operations of 34 pubTV channels run by the stations. The facility will be housed at WCNY in Syracuse. CPB expects that the stations will have combined savings of $25 million over 10 years.
Each station will retain control of its broadcast schedule and multicast channels. The collaboration, called Centralcast LLC, is comprised of WCNY and WNET as well as WCFE in Plattsburgh, WNET sister station WLIW, WNED in Buffalo, WMHT in Albany, WPBS in Watertown, WSKG in Vestal and WXXI in Rochester. It also includes two New Jersey Network channels now operated by WNET.
“By strategically investing in projects that help stations collaborate and operate more efficiently, we enhance their capacity to deliver quality local content and services in the communities they serve,”said CPB President Pat Harrison in a statement.
The 56,000-square-foot Syracuse facility on the edge of downtown also will house WCNY's TV and radio production studios, a learning center, concert auditorium, cafe and other amenities, CPB said.
Norm Silverstein, WXXI president, told Current that other benefits of the deal include new automation equipment for that station and WMHT. The Rochester station "is in desperate need" of that as it made the transition to DTV early, Silverstein said.