Two transmitters going dark due to budget cuts at Blue Ridge PBS

By Dru Sefton

Blue Ridge PBS in Roanoke, Va., is shutting down two transmitters due to state funding and federal sequestration, according to the Roanoke Times.

Households in the Tri-Cities region of Bristol, Va./Tenn. and Kingsport and Johnson City, Tenn., and far southwest Virginia, will lose the station’s over-the-air digital signal. About 15 percent of viewers in that area receive its programming through digital antennas or converters.

The state cut all funding for pubcasting last year, which meant a drop of about $1 million for Blue Ridge PBS, nearly a third of its operating budget. Sequestration shaved another 5 percent this month.

The station eliminated two positions in its education department and one in engineering last year. Shutting down the two transmitters will save about $500,000 annually, station President James Baum told the newspaper.

“Every time we’ve taken a budget cut, we made sure the viewers did not see this,” Baum said. “Now, we don’t have a choice. Looking forward, we are not tearing the transmitters down, so if we find a way to bring them back on line, we will.”

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