Aug 27, 2011

CPB-backed collaboration discussions in Alaska end; only minimal partnerships emerge

After more than two years of talks, a potential collaboration among Alaska public broadcasting stations that held great promise of potentially coming together has fallen apart, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The stations, KUAC in Fairbanks, KTOO in Juneau and Alaska Public Telecommunications in Anchorage, were looking to consolidate bookkeeping, engineering and other functions to cut costs. "But after studying a plan to merge many of the administrative functions at the stations, it didn’t become clear those changes would actually result in any savings," according to the newspaper.

Patty Kastelic of Fairbanks, a member of the merger exploration committee, said there also was concern the state’s smaller public broadcasters would lose their local identities to the bigger stations. “I think some of these ideas require a leap of faith and a lot of trust,” Kastelic said. “I think people are fearful — with good cause, I think — that everything is going to be decided in Anchorage.”

The merger study was funded by an $88,000 CPB grant. The process did lead to smaller partnerships within the system: Stations in Juneau and Bethel are now sharing some bookkeeping duties, and talks are planned next month between Fairbanks-based Alaska One television and Anchorage station managers to explore joint work.