A Television News Institution Gets a New Owner

Jun 19, 2014  •  Post A Comment

A program that has become an institution in TV news is getting a new owner. Writing in The New York Times, Elizabeth Jensen reports that Washington, D.C., public broadcaster WETA will take control of "PBS NewsHour" July 1 from its longtime owner, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.

Approval for the transfer came Tuesday at a meeting of WETA’s board of trustees, the story notes. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions said last year that it wanted to donate the program to the broadcaster if a deal could be created. The production company was founded by former “NewsHour” anchors Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer.

“The company is also giving WETA its archives and some smaller production projects. Its employees will become employees of NewsHour Productions LLC, a nonprofit WETA subsidiary set up to operate the program. No money will change hands and WETA has so far put no value on the transaction,” Jensen notes.

Jensen's report adds: “The transfer will end an era in public broadcasting that began when Mr. MacNeil and Mr. Lehrer paired up for television coverage of the Watergate hearings in 1973, which led to what was initially a half-hour PBS newscast, beginning in 1975. The production company was founded and took control of the program in 1981; Liberty Media took a controlling interest in 1994.”


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