WNED today announced that it has implemented certain cost-cutting measures to ensure that it can continue to provide vital programs and services to the region while preserving the long-term financial stability of the organization.
WNED’s eight corporate officers voluntarily took a 7 ½ percent salary cut. Salaries for all other staff members were reduced by 5 percent. Nine full-time positions were eliminated by laying off three current staff members and deleting six vacant full-time positions. The total workforce reduction is nearly 10 percent.
“We have made these necessary and very difficult personnel decisions in order to contain costs in the face of declining revenues,” said WNED President and CEO Donald K. Boswell. “These individuals are valued members of our staff. We hired them because we needed them. Hopefully, as financial circumstances improve in the future, we will be able to rebuild our staff.” WNED has 93 full-time employees.
Boswell pointed out that operating expenses have been cut across budget lines, including administration, travel, and health benefits. The combined effect of all these measures will be to reduce expenses by $511,000 in the current fiscal year and by more than $1.1 million next year.
The cutbacks are in place as WNED’s television audience is at a near-record level. Last year, WNED became the nation’s second most-watched public television station, per capita, in prime time. WNED-TV has been in the top 10 per capita prime-time viewership since 2000.
“While this level of viewership certainly is impressive, WNED’s membership levels have remained relatively flat.” Boswell said. “We are very grateful to our viewers, listeners and community partners for their generous and loyal support,” he said, “but we must do a better job of convincing more of those loyal viewers and listeners to become supporting members of WNED.” Membership dollars are vital to WNED and Boswell noted that while WNED TV has 38,748 members, the goal is to increase that number to 50,000 over the next year.
“The proposed cut in New York State funding for public broadcasting also is a major challenge, as we project what dollars will be available to us next year to meet our operating expenses,” Boswell reported. “If we lose the full amount proposed, WNED will take a devastating hit of $900,000, beginning in July.”
WNED has joined forces with its eight fellow broadcasting stations throughout the state to reach out to Governor David A. Paterson and to state legislators, seeking to amend the size of the proposed cut.
WNED’s production area is thriving. Numerous programs scheduled to be aired regionally and nationally are in various stages of production. WNED has received a steady stream of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and program underwriters in the United States and Canada.
Other public broadcasting entities are making cuts or considering doing so, just as are commercial broadcasters, newspapers and media organizations. In December, National Public Radio (NPR) announced that it would eliminate certain programs and trim its workforce by seven percent. Last month, WNET and WLIW, the New York City-area public television stations, laid off 14 percent of staff, some 85 positions. Public television stations in several other large markets, including Dallas, San Francisco, Orlando and Tampa, also have reduced staff and canceled some programs to contain costs.
Through WNED-TV, ThinkBright TV, Classical 94.5/WNED-FM and WNED-AM 970 The Information Station, the member-supported WNED Buffalo/Toronto provides high quality programming and services that enlighten, inspire, entertain and educate Western New York and Southern Ontario communities. Additional information about WNED can be found at www.wned.org.