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The Economy And WFIU: Update #2

The economic downturn changed our budget projections nationally and locally. WFIU needs your help to generate immediate revenue to face the new reality.

Dear Members,

First, thanks for the letters, calls and e-mails expressing concern over the economy’s effect on public broadcasting. We are working to hold services intact through very choppy waters. The economic downturn changed our budget projections nationally and locally. WFIU needs to generate immediate revenue to face the new reality, and we need your help.

As of this writing (May 6) we are anticipating a shortfall of over $40,000 in our budget. Some of this is attributed to individuals and families giving less this year due to economic strain. A more startling loss is our state appropriation.

Acting on behalf of the Governor, the State Budget Director notified Indiana public broadcasting stations that our fourth quarter allocation would not be distributed to stations. As you can imagine, this unanticipated loss sent a shockwave through station budgets.

Funding projections for the next year or two are murky at this time. Indiana’s General Assembly adjourned without agreeing on a new state budget and necessitating a special session. Public broadcasting stations as well as universities and other entities will not know the status of their future allocations for some time to come.

We hope for a slight reduction to our allocation which is natural considering the shape of the state economy. We fear deep cuts, or total obliteration of funding to public broadcasting as had been proposed by the Governor. In addition, we anticipate a reduction in university funding as IU struggles with its own funding at the statehouse.

In the meantime we have undertaken measures to adjust our budget. We worked with NPR to maintain the current dues level, though NPR too is suffering large corporate losses, particularly in the financial and automotive sectors, as well as in decreased endowment revenues. Other program providers have for the most part followed NPR’s lead.

We cut several local programs slated for production, and froze hiring in areas that can still handle the temporary strain. Travel and equipment purchases have been reduced or postponed indefinitely. We found a lower priced software package for our public service announcement program, and are looking at reducing the monthly guide production costs.

WFIU made a good decision several years ago to fund new technology initiatives (Online and HD2) with gifts and grants rather than operating funds. Now in the reduced budget scenario, these initiatives are not draining our main radio operation.

These cuts and measures will help us preserve much of our core programs and services, but not all of them. Programs other than Morning Edition and All Things Considered are still at risk. That’s why I write with a sense of urgency.

During the months of May and June, we hope to fund at least $30,000 of our shortfall through gifts solicited by brief on-air announcements and an online campaign in June. This should keep us from having to interrupt programming and hold a full-fledged fund drive in June.

We heartily thank you for all you do for WFIU, and ask that you take this opportunity to make an additional contribution now.