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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor appoints new WIPR board members

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia has appointed Carmen Ruiz Fischler, José Vega Santana and Fernando Antonio Llavona Torres to the board of directors of the Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corporation (WIPR).

The move comes despite attempts that began in May 2020 by the Financial Oversight and Management Board to privatize WIPR, which was created to provide educational and cultural programming.

“WIPR has an invaluable educational and cultural mission for Puerto Rico. This is why it is important to have first-rate professionals committed to identifying opportunities that result in growth, development and sustainability,” the governor said last Friday in a written statement. “With this in mind, I am pleased to name these three professionals who have stood out for their impeccable careers.”

“Both Ruiz Fischler and Vega Santana are closely linked to the arts, education, content development, and culture. At the same time, Llavona Torres has vast experience in entertainment and creative innovation,” he added. “I am sure that these nominees will strengthen the work so that WIPR proceeds on an advanced path and that it continues to carry out its cultural and educational mission successfully for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico.”

Since 2020, the oversight board has advocated for the station’s sale. That year, the board conditioned WIPR’s funding on the passing of acceptable legislation to transfer WIPR to a nonprofit entity. WIPR did not receive any federal disaster recovery funds.

The oversight board said the decision to privatize was approved in 2019, giving the government ample time to take action toward the transition and safeguard the federal licenses and operations of WIPR.

At the time, the oversight board said the fiscal crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic had forced the board to make difficult budgetary decisions when faced with short and medium-term reductions in revenues while attempting to maximize government services.

The oversight board said the enactment of legislation to transform WIPR did not imply overnight privatization; thus, the legislation could provide a reasonable timeframe in order to avoid jeopardizing the licensing application process.

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