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

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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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