WTHR lays off 20-year vet, plus chopper pilot

June 29, 2009

Due to the economic downturn, WTHRTV Channel 13 this month eliminated two positions, including longtime Program Director Rod Porter. WTHR also cut one of two helicopter pilot positions.

Porter, who had been at WTHR more than 20 years, oversaw the promotion and production departments. His last day with WTHR is June 30.

"We were lucky enough to retain that position years after most stations eliminated it," said WTHR General Manager Jim Tellus. "Certainly, this has not been an easy decision, but a decision I thought I had to make."

Tellus said WTHR is "constantly evaluating how to keep costs down," but added that the station isn't planning more layoffs. Tellus said WTHR promotion and production department heads will now report directly to him.

Tellus would not divulge the station's revenue so far this year, but he said it's lower than last year at this time. Virginia-based BIA Financial Network predicts TV ad spending in the Indianapolis market will decrease from $197 million in 2008 to $157 million this year.

Tellus said cutting one of two chopper pilots merely brings the station in line with its competitors. He added that the station had a successful May TV viewer ratings book, especially in the 25-to-54 age range, and he is hopeful revenue will increase over the second half of this year.

"We've had no pay cuts, no furloughs and no widespread job cuts," Tellus said. "I feel very good about where we are in relation to our competitors."

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