WASHINGTON — The parent company of “PBS NewsHour,” the daily news program that dates back nearly 40 years on public TV, may have lined up a new owner.
MacNeil-Lehrer Productions (MLP) has entered into talks to have the public TV station WETA of Arlington, Va. take over the company and to continue producing the nightly show, according to a memo to the program’s staff Tuesday from Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, the former PBS anchors and two of the company’s principal owners.
MacNeil-Lehrer is primarily owned by Colorado’s Liberty Media under a partnership that gives MacNeil and Lehrer editorial control of the company and “NewsHour.”
They said changing owners now would increase “our fundraising abilities. But the central driving force is that the two of us are increasingly no longer active in the day-to-day editorial decisions of The NewsHour. We felt the need to create a way to insure The NewsHour will always be in steady, professional journalistic hands and minds once we step even further away — to coin a phrase that fits our current happy elder status. For the near future we have offered to remain available to the NewsHour as advisors or consultants.”
WETA is a co-producer of “NewsHour” but does not own it.
The talks remain preliminary, and completing a deal “will be complicated and it may take awhile,” the memo said.