University licensee to vote on proposed ownership transfer for Iowa Public Radio

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Courtesy Iowa Public Radio

A vote slated next week at the Iowa Board of Regents would transfer ownership of three university licensee stations to Iowa Public Radio.

IPR began managing broadcast operations at the stations in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City 15 years ago, but the licenses are still held by the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

The board of regents of Iowa’s three state universities eliminated university funding for IPR in 2020, amounting to 10% of IPR’s budget. The pandemic prompted the cuts as the institutions faced nearly $200 million in lost revenue and added expenses by the end of fiscal year 2020. 

The board will vote on the transfer plan at a meeting Wednesday. If the transfer is approved, the vote will be the first step in the process. The change in ownership must be  approved by the IPR Board of Directors and the FCC before it is final, IPR Executive Director Myrna Johnson said in a press release.

“The universities are looking to focus on their core mission but they also have a goal, as we do, to ensure the network that they created lives on and continues to thrive,” Johnson said.

The transfer to IPR follows a larger trend of university licensees selling their public media entities. Between 2000 and 2019, 91 university licensees sold 114 public media stations, according to the University Station Alliance

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