Jun 1, 2011

WTVI's survivial in danger if it keeps "bleeding money," its president says

WTVI, the PBS affiliate in Charlotte, N.C., is asking Mecklenburg County commissioners to restore a total of $1 million in funding that was cut in recent years, reports WFAE-FM. There's no operating money for WTVI in the county budget, but the station gets help paying for equipment and studio space as well as about $100,000 to televise commission meetings. WTVI President Elsie Garner says the station won't go dark immediately if the county refuses her funding request, at least "not in one year. But if you keep bleeding money, after awhile, yeah that's the logical thing."

Garner denied to Current any rumors that WTVI may be considering dropping from PBS membership. "Our board is still committed to the PBS brand," she says. "Otherwise, we’re still out there providing service and programming to the community and waiting for better days ahead!"

WTVI has routinely received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mecklenburg County to cover salaries, equipment maintenance and program costs. But last year, commissioners determined funding for WTVI was not part of the county's core mission. And fundraising is falling. So WTVI cut half the staff positions, froze salaries and ended its subscription to a ratings service. Garner says without a financial boost, one of the WTVI's three HD channels may go away, along with some popular PBS programs on the station main channel. WTVI has an annual budget of about $3 million.

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