Over at the state’s public broadcasting outlet, which produces some of our favorite political programming (Comment on Kentucky, Kentucky Tonight), the budget crunch combined with the potential for a slate of retirements has folks worried.
Half of KET’s funding comes from the state budget, and it was asked to make do with $1.8 million less in the fiscal year that starts next month. It will get $13.24 million from the state in fiscal ’09. As such, the network cut 10 jobs and announced it would not replace four others. It has about 220 staff members, split between its Lexington HQ and Louisville production office (where it produces Louisville Life.)
Federal sources provide 15 percent of KET’s budget, about the same amount it gets from fund-raising and grants. The total budget is about $25 million.
Communications director Tim Bischoff said KET has not made decisions yet on operational cuts, which could affect the network’s programming. It’s possible, in theory, that the cutbacks will mean shows could be dropped.
Bischoff said that as KET prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary, up to 30 of its staff members are becoming eligible for retirement in the next six months, which could create a void of expertise at KET.
“People who came in and have been here 25 to 30 years are eligible to retire,” Bischoff said. “They’re difficult to replace as they’re the senior leadership of the organization.”
Especially if the budget doesn’t allow for replacing them. Sounds like some tough choices ahead for KET.