A local broadcaster is looking to grab some extra airwaves outside its home market.
Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corp., the Richmond-based nonprofit that operates public radio and TV programs statewide under the Community Idea Stations brand, plans to absorb Harrisonburg-based TV broadcast company WVPT-TV. The deal was announced Nov. 15.
WVPT previously had operated under Shenandoah Valley Educational Television Corp., and will be the fifth station within CPBC if the deal is approved by the FCC.
WVPT broadcasts PBS and other educational channels in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville. In Richmond, CPBC broadcasts the 88.9 WCVE radio station and local PBS channels. It also broadcasts the local PBS TV station in Charlottesville.
Lisa Tait, CPBC’s vice president for development and marketing, said she expects the merger to be approved in February 2018. The deal does not involve any money changing hands.
Tait said the deal was motivated by the changing broadcasting industry in which people are watching and listening both on-demand and in real time.
“Public media has really been changing,” she said. “We’ve come to realize the importance of having a lot of community engagement, and reaching out beyond broadcasting in our local community.”
Three members of the SVETC board of directors will join the Community Idea Stations board, and Tait said day-to-day operations for each entity won’t change as a result of the merger.
Community Idea Stations is based out of 23 Sesame St. in Richmond, adjacent to Huguenot Park off Robious Road.
CPBC’s annual revenue was $9.5 million in 2016, according to nonprofit tracker GuideStar. In the same year, SVETC’s revenue was $2.1 million.