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NPR, WGBH Buying Noncom Rep Firm

National Public Radio and WGBH Boston are buying National Public Broadcasting, noncommercial media's equivalent of a rep firm for noncommercial media's version of ads -- corporate sponsorships.

Williams Communications, principal owner of NPB, is said to have accepted the offer, with Robert Williams, CEO of NPB, remaining in his post and Ken Stern, CEO of NPR, becoming chairman of the board of the nonprofit.

NPB’s and NPR's corporate-sponsorship arm would be combined into a new, independent sponsorship company to pitch placement across TV, radio, the Internet and other new media.

NPB was founded in 1997 by a consortia of stations including WGBH and others of the cream of PBS' program-originating partners, including WETA, KCET and WNET. It added noncommercial radio in 1999 and an interactive division in 2006, signing up, as well as operating a number of station Web sites.

The new company would be representing 60 TV stations and 120 radio stations, as well as, station sites and the national NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.