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WQED-TV Cuts Staff

PITTSBURGH: Pennsylvania public broadcaster WQED-TV has cut staff in response to the state’s budget crisis. WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh issued a statement saying that nine people were laid off and two unfilled jobs were scrapped.

“The action is in response to the ongoing economic turmoil, the potential reduction in other revenue sources, and the overall delay in an approved state budget that includes the elimination of public television funding for fiscal year 2010,” the statement said.

Pennsylvania legislators are at an impasse about how to handle a $3.2 billion deficit for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The governor suggested increasing personal income tax by 16 percent in addition to cutting the budget, local media outlets report. WQED’s entire $1.1 million contribution from the state was one of the cuts proffered by the governor.

“Since 1968, WQED used these state monies for station operations and production,” said George L. Miles, Jr., president and CEO of WQED Multimedia. “For the past five months we mounted a public communications campaign to explain why those monies were important to our daily operations. We now have to confront the reality that these state monies may never be reinstated.”

WQED said the laid-off employees would be offered “a package to assist in job searches and professional career development.” Miles called the staff cuts a “drastic action.”

“Our employees have given back to this company in multiple ways, through salary cuts and freezes and by paying more for their health care,” he said. “We cut budgets and expenses, including suspension of travel and pension contributions-pensions that are the basis for our future and the futures of our families. Everyone who works here has done everything to keep this organization going.”
-- Deborah D. McAdams