Wednesday, June 25, 2008

University of Georgia Research Foundation to Acquire WNEG-TV

The University of Georgia Research Foundation has reached an agreement to acquire WNEG-TV, channel 32, from its current owner, Media General, Inc. Transfer of the license for the television station, which serves Northeast Georgia from studios in Toccoa, is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission. The station will be operated by the University of Georgia through its Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The commercial station will serve Northeast Georgia with high-quality, local interest programming, built primarily around local news and public affairs programming, and featuring UGA academic, cultural and athletic events.

“The acquisition of WNEG is the foundation for development of a Center for Advanced Media, out of which the university plans to distribute its rich content statewide through multiple platforms ranging from satellite to cable to Web,” said E. Culpepper Clark, Grady College dean. “Our first goal, however, will be to provide quality local television programming to Northeast Georgia.”

UGA President Michael F. Adams noted that by acquiring WNEG, the University of Georgia joins a handful of flagship universities nationwide that own commercial licenses. “This provides a winning combination of strengthening local markets by emphasizing local interests, while offering a real-world opportunity for faculty and students to work in research, development and teaching in media,” Adams said. “The revenue produced by this commercial venture will strengthen the operation of the television station while enhancing the research and outreach mission of the university.”

Clark estimated that FCC approval likely would occur this fall. He said the first year of ownership would focus on programming and technical transition, during which the station would continue to operate out of its Toccoa studios until transferring to studios at the Grady College building on the UGA campus. The new UGA-oriented programming is expected to commence in fall 2009, utilizing professional broadcast staff supported by UGA students and their faculty instructors.

“The new WNEG will provide students and faculty with new ways to experience and use media,” Clark said. “Indeed, all units that comprise the university will have at their disposal the means to create and distribute programming that informs, entertains and inspires the best – in short, media as we know it can be.”

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