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Revenue loss spurs WNED-TV layoffs, pay cuts

Cost-cutting measures at WNED-TV are resulting in layoffs and salary reductions, officials of the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association announced Tuesday.

Eight corporate officers voluntarily took a 7.5 percent reduction in their salaries. Three full-time staff members were laid off, and six vacant full-time positions were eliminated. WNED has 93 full-time employees.

"We have made these necessary and very difficult personnel decisions in order to contain costs in the face of declining revenues," said Donald K. Boswell, WNED president and chief executive officer. "Hopefully, as financial circumstances improve in the future, we will be able to rebuild our staff."

Boswell noted that other cost reductions have been made in administration, travel and health benefits. The cuts, he said, will save $511,000 during this fiscal year and more than $1.1 million next year.

Although the station last year became the nation's second most-watched public TV station, per capita, in prime time, "membership levels have remained relatively flat," Boswell said.

He noted that WNED-TV currently has 38,748 members and hopes to increase membership to 50,000 during the next year.

"The proposed cut in New York State funding for public broadcasting also is a major challenge," Boswell cautioned, "as we project what dollars will be available to us next year to meet our operating expenses. If we lose the full amount proposed, WNED will take a devastating hit of $900,000, beginning in July."

Boswell noted that other public broadcasters have been making cuts recently. WNET and WLIW in the New York City area eliminated 85 positions last month. Public television stations in Dallas, San Francisco and Orlando also have reduced staff and canceled programs, he said.

e-mail: citydesk@buffnews.com

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