Ten full-time employees will be laid off at the end of September from the engineering department at WKBW-TV Channel 7 because their work has been outsourced to Atlanta, Bill Ransom, station general manager and president, said Friday.
The station has hired a digital media company called Encompass to do its master control work, Ransom said.
"We're doing what WGRZ and LIN have already done," Ransom said. "LIN has outsourced its master control and traffic years ago, and WGRZ has outsourced its master control and promotion years ago. We're just getting up to speed, and what we've done is outsourced our master control."
Encompass, according to the company's website, originates over-the-air television stations from across the U.S. and transmits these stations via fiber to local market facilities for broadcast. In addition, every primary station feed originating from Encompass' Atlanta hub can be transmitted in high definition.
"It was a matter of timing," Ransom said. "I was part of an analysis two years ago, and it was just [cost] prohibitive. We had planned to hub it with our station in Indiana."
The laid-off employees worked behind the scenes, and some may be back, according to Ransom, "depending on what becomes available in their classification."
"It's not that we're getting rid of people for the sake of getting rid of people," Ransom said. "Technology is causing these changes. You have robotic cameras that eliminate people. You have production automation that eliminates people.
"Now you have these companies like Encompass that can operate multistations from one facility," Ransom said. "That takes away a lot of people."
Channel 7 is owned by Granite Broadcasting, a wholly owned subsidiary of Silver Point Capital, a hedge fund based in Greenwich, Conn.