December 22, 2004

WILL-TV Says Bye to The Nightly Business Report 

I can't say I'm a devotee, but we know that some people watch The Nightly Business Report on WILL-TV. If you're one of them, we're sad to inform you the show disappears from our schedule after December 31st. To explain, WILLblog turns things over toe WILL-TV Program Director David Thiel:
"Why, after 23 years on WILL-TV, have we dropped NBR? The funds necessary to purchase the new season are not available. Significant increases in our PBS dues, reductions in State and University funding, and a shortfall in member contributions have forced WILL-TV to make a number of budget cuts during our current fiscal year. Where possible, we have made reductions in areas which are largely invisible to viewers. However, for the first time in many years, we must drop an existing program if we are to stay within our budget. There are several reasons why "The Nightly Business Report" appeared to be the best choice. First, it is our single most expensive, individual program acquisition: $13,520 to renew each year. The vast majority of our shows--including all of those from PBS--are purchased in large packages, but NBR is one of a relatively small number of series that we must buy on an individual basis. Such programs are most likely to be affected by cuts to our program budget. Second, the size of the audience for this series--as measured by A.C. Nielsen--has diminished over the years. During the July 2004 "sweeps" period, NBR averaged a 0.1 rating among TV households. That means that for every household with a TV set in our coverage area, one out of a thousand was watching the program. Third, our efforts to solicit corporate underwriting and individual member contributions in support of NBR have met with little success in recent years. Other acquisitions such as "The Lawrence Welk Show," "The Red Green Show" and the various British comedies are both popular with viewers and well supported by them. Is it possible that NBR could return? Yes, but there would have to be a significant, positive change in our financial fortunes. Such changes could include an increase in member contributions, more funding from State and University sources, or a decrease in our PBS dues. While we will continue to do what we can to encourage member contributions, we don't anticipate those other factors to improve in the near future. Regardless, NBR will remain off our air in the short term. Because the WILL stations are "forward funded," the money we raise during this fiscal year (which ends June 30, 2005) goes toward expenses in the next fiscal year (beginning July 1, 2005). During the current fiscal year, there is simply no money available for NBR. I am very sorry to be forced into this decision, and I realize that it will make some loyal WILL viewers unhappy. Unlike many other institutions, WILL-TV does not have the luxury of operating with a deficit. Unfortunately, that occasionally means that difficult choices must be made. I hope that this adequately explains the situation with NBR, and I thank you for your interest in WILL-TV. David Thiel Program Director / WILL-TV"

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