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Budget Crisis Brings Cuts at Local PBS

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So far, no one has been let go from stations in Northern Virginia or Charlottesville, says Sarah Bartenstein, spokeswoman for Commonwealth Public Broadcasting's Community Ideas Stations, the collective name for the company's TV and radio stations.

Since July 1 the nonprofit has issued a salary freeze that applies to all employees.

The blame lies not just with the state's budget crisis. In addition to losing state grant money, Bartenstein says, the organization's endowment has lost money in the stock market.

"Our investment portfolio lost a great amount," she says. That money had been used to cover and keep current the hefty cost of equipment, especially that needed for television production.

The bottom line may be difficult to discern. Bartenstein says she doesn't yet have figures about how the cuts and the losses may add up. "We read the [budget] reports like everybody else last week," she says. "And we're kind of bracing ourselves to see if we're asked to cut more."

Bartenstein says viewers shouldn't expect the cuts to affect programming.

Meanwhile, local public-radio and -TV staffs seem to be responding to leaner times by absorbing duties elsewhere. And a move to drum up additional volunteer staff and support, and to expand internship programs, is in the works.

"Everyone who works here is feeling the effect," says Bartenstein, adding: "The people who work here will have to work harder." — Brandon Walters

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