Federal cuts impact campus media outlets

Sam Banks

Employees and students who are involved with WNMU Public TV-13 and WNMU-FM Public Radio 90 are looking to reduce spending by a combined $44,000, a result of the federal sequestration budget cuts that went into effect in March.

WNMU Public TV-13 is the public television station for the Upper Peninsula and northeast Wisconsin. It provides programs like the High School Bowl, an academic competition, the Ask The… series in which people call in questions for doctors, lawyers, realtors, CPAs and the Michigan DNR and Public Eye News, a 15-minute news broadcast worked by an all student crew.

Eric Smith, the general manager of WNMU TV, said as a result of the sequestration, all federal agencies and corporations are taking a five percent cut including public broadcasting. 5 percent for both WNMU TV and Public Radio 90 equates to roughly $44,000.

“Television needs to manage a $37,000 cut and the radio station needs to manage about a $7,000 cut,”  Smith said. “We’re not sure yet how we’re going to translate that into actual reductions.”

Smith said around 20 to 30 students work for the TV news segment Public Eye News every semester. They are trying to manage it so that it won’t affect Public Eye News because it directly relates to coursework the students do.

“Students get the benefit of being able to train and work in an environment that’s actually an on-air, live learning lab” Smith said. “Public broadcasting gets the benefit of having students who are learning the trade and helping them produce programs that people at home ultimately watch and enjoy.”

Gavin Leach the vice president for finance and administration said at this point he would not be able to provide any real depth on the direction and impact of the cuts.

According to Leach,  university officials are in the review mode and are allowing the specific areas to identify plans as to how to address the cuts that are impacting their areas.

Bob Thomson, director and producer of Public TV-13 and advisor for the Public Eye News team, said the budget will not affect Public Eye News whatsoever.

“The student organization Public Eye News should not be affected at all,” Thomson said. “It will go on at 4 p.m. every day next year and hopefully for many years to come.”