The university will enter into a programming management partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting and will rebrand its commercial television station WNEG-TV to a public television station to be named WUGA-TV under an agreement in principle announced Dec. 23. The moves will be subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission.
“By serving the public as well as our students and faculty through this new partnership, WUGA-TV will contribute immeasurably to UGA’s teaching, research and public service mission,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “We are pleased that a solution so well-aligned with the university’s mission has been reached to help take the television station forward as a valued university asset.”
“This is a great fit for GPB Media and UGA,” said Teya Ryan, president and executive director of GPB Media. “We’re both educational institutions and through this partnership we can provide valuable programming to all of Northeast Georgia. GPB has its roots in Athens-we signed on 50 years ago on the campus of the University of Georgia-so the circle is now complete as we begin this important new partnership.”
The station, acquired in October 2008 to serve Northeast Georgia and to provide laboratory experiences of exceptional quality for UGA students and faculty, will continue to do so and expand its capabilities under the new arrangement, said E. Culpepper Clark, dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“The alliance with GPB Media will sustain the vision of UGA as a production center for arts, information and entertainment programming as outreach to Northeast Georgia and indeed the entire state,” Clark said. “The value of the signal and associated digital spectrum will only increase over time, as will the educational value and opportunities for our students.”
The rebranding of WUGA-TV will emphasize the station’s role as an extension of UGA. The station will carry GPB Knowledge, an educational programming package targeting primarily adult audiences. It includes news, documentaries, current affairs and history programs.
Employees of the TV station were informed Jan. 6 of a staff reorganization.
Seven members of the current staff will be retained under the new organization, and 17 employees were informed that their positions are being eliminated. The eliminated positions include 12 full-time staff and five temporary employees. Full-time staff will receive four weeks’ pay and any accrued leave. Temporary staff will receive two weeks’ pay. Each will be provided transition counseling through UGA Human Resources.
“Programming changes and budgetary considerations dictate a different staffing pattern under the public broadcasting model,” said WNEG station manager Michael Castengera. “These departing employees have been loyal and gave their best efforts toward making WNEG a commercial success. Despite those best efforts, the economic downturn proved to be too great an obstacle.”
The staff-produced local newscast, now seen five nights a week, will be discontinued immediately. A student-produced newscast, NewsSource, will air Monday through Thursday evenings during the academic year as the station’s local news offering.