Southern California noncom looking to bulk up


Size is being seen as a hedge against a drought of government funding by strong public broadcasting companies, and one of those looking to grow is Southern California Public Radio. The group is hoping to create a mini-network of O&O stations that will provide a huge audience and contribution base.

According to a Bloomberg report, the group is on the hunt for noncom stations to buy. It is flagshipped by KPCC-FM Pasadena, in the Los Angeles market, and already has two other stations. Its goal is to get enough more signals to stretch its coverage zone from San Diego to the south all the way up to Santa Barbara to the north.

SCPR benefits already from well-to-do benefactors who have recently kicked in minor fortunes to build new studios for KPCC. Further, while much of the journalism industry is reeling from job losses, SCPR is looking at more than doubling its reporting staff.

It also can pull in significant cash for “noncommercial commercials,” the 15-second underwriting announcements that get a company’s name out there will helping to fund the station. According to Bloomberg, SCPR is already able to pull in $650 for a quarter of a minute, and a larger listener base will only take that number higher.

The strong philanthropic support could help SCPR acquire signals – and the fact that the stations are in the less-expensive noncommercial band, may be licensed to showstring non-profit entities that may be sweating out an uncertain future, all against the backdrop of a general station trading market in which pricing has come down to earth, make the SCPR plan look very attainable.

RBR-TVBR observation: Will defunding public broadcasting bring the consolidation of the noncommercial sector and new unwanted competition for commercial broadcasters for corporate promotional money? As we noted earlier, almost half of those responding to an RBR-TVBR survey see this as a possible unintended consequence of defunding. There is no telling how this will play out, no matter what happens in Congress.