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Alaska PBS Station Cuts Local Programming, One-Third of Staff

FAIRBANKS: The flagship PBS member station serving most of Alaska is cutting one-third of its staff roster because of a $450,000 budget deficit, the Daily News-Minerreports. KUAC-TV, the main TV station in the AlaskaOne statewide PBS network, is cutting staff positions from 28 to 19. The program line-up is taking a hit as well. Original documentaries and local children’s programming has been scrapped.

“Due to budget and personnel cuts, AlaskaOne must now rely solely on the live PBS satellite feeds to broadcast children’s programming,” the station’s Web site states. “AlaskaOne will only be able to air the children’s programs that are offered, at time they are available from the satellite feeds because we no longer have the resources to record and schedule them manually. This resulted in a complete change in the children's schedule during weekdays and weekends.”

The public broadcaster’s fortunes have been slipping for years, according to the Miner coverage. KUAC drained its savings two years ago covering budget shortfalls. The current cuts are expected to bring it back to black, though it will have some more DTV transition expenses to cover.

KUAC, which is carried throughout the area on several translators, continues to be unavailable in outlying areas. (Translators were not subject to the June 12 DTV transition deadline.) The station said it is “taking measures to improve the current digital signal” with a “rechannelization” project. The strategy entails replacing both transmitters--analog Ch. 9 and digital Ch. 24--with a higher power unit at Ch. 9, plus a new antenna. The project is schedule for completion in mid-September.
-- Deborah D. McAdams