President Morehead: Committee Reviewing WUGA-TV

Former Journalism Dean Culpepper Clark was an enthusiastic supporter of buying the station.

Unscripted is one of the station's local shows.
Unscripted is one of the station's local shows.
A committee appointed in September by UGA President Jere Morehead has been reviewing the university's public television station, WUGA-TV, focusing on the costs and benefits of having such an enterprise, he said during a Wednesday media briefing.

In its past life, the station was WNEG, a commercial TV station based out of Toccoa. The UGA Research Foundation voted in 2008 to buy, upgrade and move the station to Athens, and to subsidize it for five years. Doing all of this would cost the Foundation an expected $5.8 million, but would provide a real world training ground for the university's students as it made money.

Expectations haven't been realized. In 2011, UGA laid off staff from the station and converted it into a public television station, in partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting. It features both locally produced shows and programming from GPB.

Morehead has asked the committee to find out how much the university has invested in WUGA TV, how much it now costs and where the money funding it comes from. He wants to know the educational value of the station and how it's integrated into an education program. He said he expects the committee to give him an answer in February. 

According to UGA spokesman Tom Jackson, the station's annual budget is about $845,000, $660,000 of which is private funds (UGA Foundation, the President's Venture Fund and UGA Athletic Association) and $185,000 in state funds to cover some of the salaries and benefits.  Included is the $90,000 paid each year to GPB for programming and master control services. This includes their management fee, one salary in Atlanta master control, and the World Network programming costs.


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