Athens, Ga. – As a result of a recently completed review of the University of Georgia’s public television station WUGA-TV, programming revisions and a reduction in staff were announced today. The station will cease local program production effective July 1, and will carry the World Channel from the national Public Broadcasting System around the clock.
The changes come in response to a study requested by UGA President Jere W. Morehead. He requested that a task force provide him with objective data to understand whether and how the TV station serves the educational interests of the institution and advances its academic reputation.
Upon receiving the report, senior administrators, including the provost, determined that the time it would take to continue to ramp up student involvement, local programming and the resultant market share to an acceptable level was just too great relative to the cost of the operation, said Tom Jackson, UGA vice president for public affairs. The change will allow WUGA-TV to continue to provide quality programs for its audience while honoring the university’s contract with Georgia Public Broadcasting, he said.
“As far as the viewer is concerned, it is a minimal change since, except for hourly news breaks on weekdays and occasional specials and documentaries, 99 percent of programming already comes from the World Channel,” Jackson said. “This move helps us honor our obligations as financial stewards to ensure funds are used most efficiently to further the academic mission of the university.”
Six members of the current staff were informed today their positions are being eliminated effective June 30 under the new format. Each will be provided transition counseling through UGA Human Resources.
“These staff members have been loyal and there has never been any doubt that they gave their best efforts,” Jackson said. “However, the funding realities are too great an obstacle to continue on the current path.”
Staff members who will continue with WUGA-TV include the station manager and chief engineer. Both of these staff members also serve the university’s public radio station WUGA-FM, which continues with its current programming and was not part of this review.
Annual savings through the reorganization are estimated to be about $565,000.