State funding cuts a setback for public stations

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana’s public television and radio stations are again facing reductions in staff and programming following a decision by Gov. Mitch Daniels to make major cuts in state funding for the second year in a row.

Because of Indiana’s budget crisis, the state’s eight public television and radio stations, including WFYI in Indianapolis, will not receive their final two installments of public funding for fiscal 2010. That's about $1.6 million, or half of the expected $3.2 million annual total.

State revenue has fallen below projections for several months. It plunged $142 million below expectations in January, prompting Daniels to make numerous cuts, including halting funding to public broadcasters for the remaining six months of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

"The state's revenues have continued to decline and more spending reductions are being made across state government," the governor's spokeswoman, Jane Jankowski, said in an e-mail. "All areas of state government have been impacted, and regrettably, that includes public broadcasting.

Jankowski said funding could be restored if revenues begin to rebound.

At least one public broadcaster, WNIT in Elkhart, already has reacted by cutting staff. The station let go eight employees on Tuesday, due to its $200,000 loss in state appropriations.

Other stations already had cut staff or programming and were anticipating less money after experiencing a 33-percent cut in state funds last year. The governor halted nearly $1.2 million in funding in the second half of fiscal 2009.

WFYI, a TV and radio broadcaster, underwent a radical restructuring in January 2009 by eliminating 10 positions, or 12 percent of the staff, and implementing a 5-percent cut in pay for management.

The station also discontinued contributions to a staff retirement program, adjusted its health care benefits and suspended some local programming, such as the "Across Indiana" program.

“That helps us better manage the situation now,” WFYI President and CEO Lloyd Wright said. “But the impact is felt by a staff that is spread very thin.”

All told, WFYI sliced its annual budget by $700,000 after it received $180,000 in state funding cuts last year. The station lost another $238,000 in fiscal 2010, for a total $418,000 the past two years. WFYI’s annual budget is about $9.2 million, of which state funding had accounted for about 5 percent.

In addition, corporate contributions are down. To compensate, WFYI hopes to increase revenue in other areas. Providing more studio services, particularly video production for corporations, is among the areas it is exploring.

Rent the station collects in its new building also should help. WFYI moved into the former Indiana Energy headquarters at 1630 N. Meridian St. in May 2008. The broadcaster bought the building for $8.5 million and spent another $11.6 million renovating the first two floors and equipping its radio and television stations. It’s renting out the third and fourth floors.

WFYI receives much of its funding from individual contributions, which account for about 35 percent of its budget. Corporate donations total about 28 percent, followed by federal funding at 13 percent and state funding at 5 percent. Non-broadcast revenue makes up another 5 percent of the budget, with the remainder coming from private and public grants.

“We hope these [state] cuts are temporary,” Wright said, “but they do hurt.”

WIPB in Muncie is feeling the pain as well. But like WFYI, it began paring staff last year to endure the first round of state cuts. The broadcaster cut five positions in the first half of 2009.

Anticipating similar funding cuts from the state this year, it did not even include the state appropriation in its 2010 budget. The $85,000 WIPB received, or half of the $170,000 that it was due, was placed in a savings account.

“Obviously, it’s a big hit, but we do not expect any further layoffs,” WIPB General Manger Alice Cheney said. “We just continue to explore other revenue streams.”
Indiana is not the only state to target public broadcasting funds to lessen the sting of the recession. More than 20 states have reduced funding or are considering it, said Larry Sidman, president of the Association of Public Television Stations in Arlington, Va.

But Indiana’s cuts seem to be among the worst, he said.

“They are deeper and more severe than most of the states,” Sidman said. “This 50-percent hit all at once is going to have a very harmful impact.”


  • True Journalism
    Local media is in real trouble.

    The Indianapolis Star has laid off most of its reporters while local coverage is reduced to a daily tabloid brochure under Gannett ownership.

    I remember when WFBQ's Bob and Tom Show actually talked about going to local events/places and spoke with people around town. Now they have taken that all out to appeal to the syndicated audience in California, New York, and Texas.

    I also remember when the news was about facts, and reporters took the time to explain complex issues and different points of view instead of giving over simplified opinions and endlessly trying to sell me something.

    PBS is one of the few places they remember how it should be done.
  • It still costs money...
    The local stations still have to pay for network programming.
    In the over-the-air broadcasting model it still costs money to operate the transmitter and other equipment even without producing local programming.
    With satellite and internet, it may be time to re-examine the broadcast model.
  • Local Not Global
    Perhaps you should take a more critical look at how the national TV networks, radio, and cable have little if any local programming or staffing.

    WFYI has both.

    I value and trust the LOCAL community, political,& business news on this local PBS station much more than generic national dribble from Fox, MSNBC, CBS, and CNN.

    We all should celebrate and support the IBJ and PBS much more.
  • bummer
    90% of the time, they simply take the network feed from PBS. Tell me again why they need this big of a budget...could it be...because the gov't gave them load of cash?

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!