Bloomberg News

WGBH Will Buy ‘This American Life’ Producer PRI

July 26, 2012

WGBH, a Boston public-radio station and production company, will acquire its funding-strapped partner Public Radio International, which distributes shows such as “This American Life.”

PRI will become an independent unit of WGBH with its own board, the two companies said today in a statement. PRI and WGBH have worked together for 16 years to produce “PRI’s The World,” a daily international news show for radio listeners. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

PRI has been operating at a loss, with revenue falling 9.2 percent to $23.7 million in the most recently reported fiscal year. Grants, gifts and corporate sponsorships fell 33 percent to $6.5 million in the period, which ended in June 2011, according to the Minneapolis-based broadcaster’s annual report.

“Joining forces with WGBH will benefit every group PRI serves, including stations, talent, producers and the public,” PRI Chief Executive Officer Alisa Miller said in the statement.

In addition to “This American Life” and “The World,” PRI produces “Studio 360” with author Kurt Andersen. PRI receives most of its revenue from its 900 affiliate radio stations, which pay for such programming. Corporate sponsors include Medtronic Inc. (MDT:US) and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Scion division.

Less than 2 percent of its budget comes from government- funding sources such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Science Foundation, according to Julia Yager, a spokeswoman for PRI.

WGBH is the one of the largest producers of content for public radio and television. Its shows for PBS include “Nova,” “Frontline” and “Masterpiece.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Edmund Lee in New York at elee310@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net


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