OETA dismisses three on-air news staffers due to state budget cuts

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Oklahoma Educational Television Authority has dropped three longtime on-air news personalities due to state budget cuts, reports the Oklahoman. News anchors Gerry Bonds and George Tomek and weatherman Ross Dixon, “who have won numerous awards and combined for nearly 45 years of experience with OETA,” the paper notes, left after Wednesday’s (June 30) 6:30 p.m. Oklahoma News Report. John McCarroll, OETA exec director, said a $994,000 drop in the 2010 fiscal budget by the Legislature, added to $725,000 additional cuts this year, prompted the changes. He said their salaries “are a big part of that $994,000 that we’re going to be able to divert to other things.” But Bonds — “stunned” by her termination — said the three are contract and not full-time employees and that their departures will “hardly make a dent” in that number. “Our combined compensation — George’s, Ross’ and mine — does not even reflect 10 percent of that figure,” she said. In addition to the terminations, OETA has placed five of its locally produced shows on hiatus: Oklahoma City Metro, Tulsa Times, State of Creativity, The People’s Business and Legislative Week.

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