The decision by retired founders Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil, which has the approval of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions (MLP) majority owner Liberty Media, will secure future journalistic independence for the news magazine.
Leaders of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, the company behind the PBS NewsHour, are negotiating to transfer ownership to co-producer WETA in Arlington, Va., according to an internal letter sent Tuesday to staffers. Program founders and original co-anchors Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil wrote that their reasons for relinquishing ownership at this time include “the probability of increasing our fundraising abilities” for the weeknightly news magazine. The New York Times reported in June that the program was in financial trouble and had received infusions of cash from PBS several times over the past year. Currently, Lehrer and MacNeil share ownership with Liberty Media, which acquired a majority interest in MacNeil/Lehrer Productions (MLP) 18 years ago. Liberty owns interests in various media, communications and entertainment businesses including SiriusXM, Barnes & Noble and the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball franchise.