Jul 24, 2009

WGBH needs further cuts, layoffs to close $6.9 million FY 2010 budget gap

WGBH will have a smaller production volume for fiscal 2010, President and CEO Jon Abbott told staffers in a letter yesterday. Which means overhead and employee benefits paid by the productions will be "considerably reduced." That's one factor contributing to the station's projected discretionary budget gap of $6.9 million dollars for FY 2010 "that we must and will close," he wrote. An initial round of cuts requested that departments cut 5 percent of nonpersonnel budget costs; that reduction request is now up to an additional 8 percent. The station is reconsidering infrastructure improvements, negotiated employee benefit savings, and has approached its union leadership to ask for concessions. Spokeswoman Lucy Sholley told The Boston Globe layoffs are expected. The station announced last Dec. 19 a reduction of 12 positions, or about 2 percent of its workforce. In April of this year WGBH instituted a one-week staff furlough, cuts in executive salaries and suspension of employee retirement matching funds.

Cross-platform kids' content vital, Sesame Workshop head tells Senate committee

Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell joined other broadcast industry insiders testifying before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Wednesday on the 1990 Children's Media Act. It established the three-hour weekly minimum of educational children's programming, and set advertising limits. Committee chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) called the hearings to address children's programming in the digital age. In his address to the committee, Knell advised incentives be used to encourage creation of more cross-platform educational content. He also singled out childhood obesity as an important focus.

XpoNential musical fun from WXPN

Philadelphia's WXPN kicks off its three-day XPoNential Music Festival this afternoon, bringing a lineup of musical acts in the Triple A vein to Wiggins Park on the scenic Camden Waterfront. From two main stages and a Kids Corner, more than 50 artists will perform blues, rock, surf, R&B/soul and music that defies easy categorization. For those of you in Mid-Atlantic region: tickets are still available! But if you can't make the Fest, tune your browsers to the WXPN stream here, where the station's live broadcast coverage will be offered as a webstream throughout the weekend. Today's coverage begins at 4:30 EST.

Henson Co. wins Engineering Emmy

The Jim Henson Co.'s Henson Digital Puppetry Studio has received an Engineering Emmy Award for its system used in the PBS Kids series Sid the Science Kid. The technique allows performers "to puppeteer and voice digital characters in real time on a sound-stage setting with multiple virtual cameras and a real time viewer, generating a high yield per minute and cutting both animation time and costs exponentially," according to a statement from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. It's one of four Engineering Emmys to be presented at an Aug. 22 ceremony in Los Angeles.