Milwaukee Public Television is in "the final stages of merger talks" with the fundraising group MPTV Friends, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Over the years the nonprofit has raised around $100 million for public television in the city. Ellis Bromberg, MPTV g.m., told the paper the talks are "amicable," adding, "I think both sides believe that this is the best in the long run for our station and our donors. We think so, and so do the Friends."
Under the agreement expected to be announced soon, more than half the Friends' 19 employees would become MPTV staffers in its development department, and the others may receive severance. Assets of the Friends, worth more than $3 million, would become the property of MPTV. The Great TV Auction, the Friends' group's biggest fundraiser and arguably the largest pubTV auction in the country, would continue.
Merger talks began earlier this year, after MPTV's attorney Steven Biskupic wrote a letter to the Friends group saying that the relationship between the two entities could be in violation of IRS and other federal law (PDF), and asking Friends to stop using several Milwaukee Public Television trademarks. The letter also stated that although the Friends group raised $5.8 million in 2010 for the station, it only forwarded $2 million to MPTV.
The president of the Friends Board of Directors, Dave Stroik, declined to discuss the talks. He has called a board meeting for Tuesday (Dec. 13).