Budget Cuts affect KUAC programming

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UPDATE 8/27/2014: The budget situation at KUAC has been resolved for this fiscal year (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015). This was accomplished by one full time position being laid off, the previously mentioned Development position going to half time, and two positions becoming vacant with a mandatory 90 day hold imposed by the University.

There will be no programming changes in the future barring additional budget cuts.

APRN programming will no longer be impacted by the budget gap.


UPDATE 8/7/2014: KUAC and Alaska Public Media have reached an understanding that will allow KUAC to continue broadcasting APRN programming for an additional three months past the announced end date of August 31.

The extension is intended to afford KUAC time to continue discussions with APRN about possible solutions in order to continue broadcasting the statewide news programs. If a solution can be found, KUAC intends to pay the APRN membership in full. “KUAC values APRN programming and we are very appreciative of the step taken by APRN as we work our way through some very trying times,” said KUAC general manager, Keith Martin.

Steve Lindbeck, CEO and general manager of Alaska Public Media, parent company of APRN stated, “We understand the difficulties KUAC faces in reconciling tough university budget cuts, and KUAC isn’t the first APRN member station to face a hardship. APRN will suspend KUAC dues payments for three months to give time for other options to be considered.”

KUAC continues to look for long-term solutions that minimize impact to our listeners and viewers as additional budget cuts are anticipated for the next several years.


KUAC will address budget cuts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with reductions to staff and programming.

8/4/2014:

The cut to KUAC’s general fund allocation could have been much worse. The initial recommendation from UAF’s Planning and Budget Committee was to completely zero-out funding to KUAC. KUAC is fortunate to have such strong support and advocacy from Chancellor Brian Rogers, Vice Chancellor Mike Sfraga, and thousands of dedicated supporters in our community.

The amount of cut that KUAC is experiencing is beyond the reported $100,000 to the general fund allocation. The amount of the budget reduction is actually $170,000.

This amount includes the recommended and approved $100,000 reduction, plus an across-the-board 5% pull-back the entire UAF campus is experiencing, and an additional .5% pull-back departments within the University and Student Advancement Division of UAF are experiencing. This reduction amount is only for FY15 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015). It is unknown how much of a budget cut KUAC will experience in subsequent years, however, it is anticipated that additional cuts will occur.

Additionally, with the initial $100,000 general fund reduction, KUAC was directed to raise an additional $100,000 for FY15, prior to the budget reductions. All told, KUAC starts out FY15 with a deficit of $270,000.

After investigating all options, making several budget adjustments and reductions, KUAC is making tough decisions with regard to operations and staffing so that it can minimize the impact to viewers and listeners. Effective September 1, 2014, KUAC will terminate its APRN membership and no longer air APRN (Alaska Public Radio Network) programming.

This page will be updated should additional programming or service reductions become necessary.

Q&A

1. What does terminating your APRN membership mean to me?

  • KUAC airs three products from APRN.
    • Alaska News Nightly each weekday evening from 6-6:30 p.m.
    • Talk of Alaska on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., and
    • 3-minute morning newscast, two times during Morning Edition
  • KUAC will replace these APRN productions with the following:
    • Alaska News Nightly with the final 30 minutes of All Things Considered.
    • This will be the most seamless choice, and will make for an easier switch should we rejoin APRN and carry Alaska News Nightly again.
    • Talk of Alaska with To the Best of Our Knowledge a show about ideas and the people behind them. Guests include science geeks, word nerds, brainiacs and geniuses. They’re witty, well-read and incredibly entertaining conversationalists.
    • NPR’s Morning Edition will no longer be preempted to air the APRN 3-minute morning newscasts.

2. Why are you making this change now?

  • Two reasons. First, the University has already reduced KUAC’s budget and pulled back an additional $70,000 in the first month of the new fiscal year. Secondly, this change must be made now because of the way APRN structures their billing cycle. Payments are due in the first quarter and KUAC will already have to pay a pro-rated amount from July 1-August 31.
  • Unfortunately, the current reality of our budget dictated a move.  We chose one that would have the least amount of impact to all Alaskans. The other side of the issue, this is the move that has the least impact to our programming schedule until we get our budget back on solid ground.

3. Why can’t you just cut some other programs?

  • KUAC programming staff investigated many options of reductions in programming to cut our costs. Most scenarios showed more listener/viewer impact than cost savings. What this means is the amount of cuts to programming KUAC would have to make in its FM and TV schedules left too many holes that could not be made up and did not add up to the cost savings experienced by cutting our APRN membership.

4. What reductions in staff are you making?

  • One position in KUAC’s development department has been reduced to half time.
  • One position in KUAC’s engineering department has been combined with an open, half-time, on-call TV master control operator position.
  • KUAC continues to examine staffing structure, workflow and operating procedures to find ways to create efficiencies.

5. How will I get local and state news?

  • KUAC will continue to provide award winning, local news coverage and glean state news from other sources that informs and impacts the lives of Interior Alaskans.
  • KUAC is investigating the formation of fully collaborative partnerships that are cost effective in order to meet the KUAC community’s need for state-wide news.

6. Can’t you just raise additional money to keep these important programs?

  • KUAC’s general fund allocation was cut by $100,000.
  • KUAC has also been tasked to raise an additional $100,000 more than was raised this past year from the community.
  • A campus –wide, across-the-board budget cut of 5% and a division budget cut of .5% equate to another $70,000 in lost funds.
  • KUAC starts out the new fiscal year with a $270,000 deficit.
  • To meet operational needs, KUAC must raise unrestricted dollars to make up this deficit.
  • KUAC’s membership in APRN costs $33,256. To raise dollars that are specifically restricted to this purpose would still require KUAC to raise an additional $33,256 in unrestricted philanthropic dollars to meet the expenses of the organization and be sustainable.

7. What about just paying for Alaska News Nightly?

  • KUAC inquired about utilizing an ala carte option for APRN programming. AlaskaPublic in Anchorage, APRN’s corporate parent, refused this option.

8. Will you ever bring back APRN Programming?

  • If AlaskaPublic will allow ala carte program acquisition, KUAC would be able to look at bringing back portions of APRN programming.

9. If the small stations in Alaska can do it why can’t KUAC?

  • Years ago, 20 or more, individuals within the state were ahead of their time when it came to purchasing programming.  The public broadcasting community came together and negotiated statewide programming purchases from the primary content providers (NPR and APM).  While the deal is very advantageous for all 26 public stations in Alaska, the deal was heavily dependent on Anchorage and Fairbanks to subsidize the other 24 stations in the state. As an example, the annual NPR programming purchase is $400,000.00 for all 26 stations in Alaska.  KUAC and KSKA (Anchorage) pay more than 50% of the cost, this leaves 24 stations to share less than $200,000, or on average $8,600.00/station.  The situation for content from APM and APRN is similar; KUAC is one of the highest paying members of APRN.  If KUAC were to pull out of the NPR statewide purchase, we would effectively put 23 of the 26 stations out of the NPR business. KUAC has been helping and supporting the smaller stations in order to provide this important content to all Alaskans.  Unfortunately, the current reality of our budget dictated a move.  We chose one that would have the least amount of impact to all Alaskans.  The other side of the issue, this is the move that has the least impact to our programming schedule until we get our budget back on solid ground.

10. What does programming cost for KUAC radio and television?

  • Detailed Programming Information & Costs HERE

11. Why didn’t KUAC inform its closest stakeholders of this decision before we read about it in the newspaper?

  • Good question. Unfortunately, an internal email to inform KUAC staff of an impending change was shared prematurely with the Fairbanks Daily News Miner by a staff member. KUAC was unable to inform stakeholders before the media outlets picked up the story.

12. What is KUAC development planning to do to meet this budget gap?

  • KUAC’s development team has a robust fundraising and development plan that includes a variety of vehicles for supporting the organization. In addition to traditional strategies, you can expect an additional on-air, multi-day fundraiser in the spring, a stronger emphasis on the sustaining donors program, continued emphasis on annual giving, and major giving, and a significant increase in community engagement through a variety of outreach projects.

13. How will KUAC ensure the quality of FM/TV programming in light of these budget cuts?

  • KUAC does not make programming decisions lightly. KUAC programming professionals have always been and will continue to be committed to its mission of creating radio and television programming that is thought provoking, trustworthy and even life changing while casting all decisions and actions against the values of independence, integrity, community, education and sustainability. As such, only trusted, valued programming that meets the needs of Alaska’s listeners and viewers is chosen for the FM and TV schedules.

14. What can I do to help?
Consider making a gift of support.
Become a sustaining donor by making an automatic monthly gift.
If you are a company owner, consider underwriting on KUAC TV and/or FM. Contact KUAC corporate support team kuac-underwriting@alaska.edu
Recognize that these are difficult decisions to make. If you have additional questions, we welcome feedback by using this link www.kuac.org/contactus