WQED announces layoffs

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WQED Multimedia laid off nine employees today and eliminated two additional staff vacancies, and in a statement said the move was made due to the economic climate, the potential decline in revenue sources and the expectation that a delayed state budget will eliminate all public TV funding for fiscal year 2010, including $1.1 million for WQED.

"Since 1968, WQED used these state monies for station operations and production," WQED president George Miles said in the statement. "For the past five months we mounted a public communications campaign to explain why those monies were important to our daily operations. We now have to confront the reality that these state monies may never be reinstated."

Neither Miles nor WQED general manager Deborah Acklin immediately returned calls seeking comment.

The statement did not indicate which staff members were let go. Most of those let go were lower-level staffers -- a janitor, a part-time graphics artist -- and the highest-ranked staff member was the executive producer of local programming. No existing top-tier executives were laid off.

It's unclear if any of those let go were in on-air roles. The statement said the staff reductions do not immediately impact WQED's ability to continue to produce some of the station's signature shows, such as "On Q," "Dave and Dave's Excellent Adventures" and "Black Horizons."

But Miles said those programs remain at risk. The station may also have to eliminate some national programs purchased separately, such as "The Lawrence Welk Show."

Laid off employees will be given a package to assist in job searches.

Station spokeswoman Rosemary Martinelli would not comment. "The release stands as is," she said. "There will be no additional details provided. There won't be any interviews."

WQED last had layoffs in October 2005 when six staffers were let go.

Contact TV editor Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv .


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