MPBN cuts employees, takes show off air

6:48 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Maine Public Broadcasting says its laying off as many as ten staff members, and taking its only regular local TV program off the air, all because of federal and state budget cuts.

MPBN announced the layoffs today, and placed part of the blame on the federal budget sequester. Network President and CEO Mark Volgelzang says MPBN started the year with a $250,000 cut in state funding.

But he says that during March they learned the sequester will take another $100,000 from the current year budget. In addition to that, state budget curtailment took more funds away.

Volgelzang says the latest cut forced them to suspend the weekly Maine Watch public affairs program, and lay off most of the people who work on it. Maine Watch has been a core MPBN program for more than two decades, and is the Network's only regularly scheduled local TV program. MPBN says the program will only be off the air temporarily. Vogelzanger says they will "retool" the program and hope to bring it back in the fall.

Radio programming will not be affected. Staff members at MPBN told NEWS CENTER they knew about the budget problems, but were still shocked by the layoffs and program termination. MPBN has gone through several rounds of layoffs over the past ten years, as the recession and other pressures cut into government funding, corporate and individual donations.

Volgelzang says if there are no more state or federal cuts, the network should be all right, but also says public broadcasting doesn't expect any more funding from state or federal government. For that reason, says the CEO, "we need to find a sustainabiity model that works."

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