Georgia Public Broadcasting will fund its new daytime public radio news service on Atlanta’s WRAS through private revenues, not state subsidies, according to Michael H. McDougald, a broadcaster who chairs the state network’s governing commission.
GPB “has no intention of using taxpayers’ money to support this new initiative,” McDougald said in an open letter responding to criticism from Public Broadcasting Atlanta, which broadcasts a hybrid format news and music service to the state capitol on WABE-FM. McDougald said the state-owned pubcasting network expects earned revenues to fully support its news and talk programming on WRAS.
GPB took over daytime programming of Georgia State University’s 100,000-watt FM station on June 29 through a channel-sharing agreement with the university. The deal drew criticism from GSU students who previously controlled all programming on the station, supporters of their music service and Public Broadcasting Atlanta, a community licensed public radio and TV service.
In a July 3 open letter that was PBA’s first public statement on GPB’s service expansion, Dr. Louis Sullivan, chair of PBA’s board of directors, called GPB’s entry into the Atlanta market “bad public policy.”
Pointing out that GPB derives nearly half of its funding from state appropriations, Sullivan described GPB’s entry into Atlanta as a waste of taxpayer money. Previously, WABE-FM was the only public radio station in Atlanta airing NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, which WRAS is airing at the same time as WABE.
Prior to GPB’s daytime takeover of WRAS, Atlanta was the only top 10 market without a full-day public radio news station because WABE devotes its midday schedule to classical music. In his response to Sullivan, McDougald listed several other large markets where multiple stations air NPR news programs, and said he believes that the donor pool in Atlanta can support both stations.
Though he acknowledged some duplicative programming on WRAS and WABE, McDougald said that both stations produce their own local news coverage for insertion within those programs.
McDougald called for more collaboration and less competition between the two stations, saying that WABE officials have ignored GPB’s proposals to collaborate.