Milwaukee Public Television and MPTV Friends, which had previously operated as two independent organizations, have merged, the groups announced Monday (Jan. 23) in a press release. Under the agreement, Friends will phase out operations in 2012, and many of its employees will join the MPTV staff to continue coordinating fundraising events including the popular Great TV Auction. “We’ve always shared the goal of bringing the community the best in public television programming,” said station G.M. Ellis Bromberg in the statement. “This agreement strengthens our relationship and makes our stations even better by allowing us to devote more resources to present new and exciting entertainment and educational offerings.” Merger talks began earlier last year.