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Charlotte Area

WTVI Pleas For County Funding

Charlotte's public television station - WTVI - is pleading with Mecklenburg County commissioners to restore one million dollars in funding that was cut in recent years. There is currently no operating money for WTVI in the county budget, but the station does get help paying for its equipment and studio space. Mecklenburg County also pays WTVI about $100,000 to televise commission meetings. WTVI President Elsie Garner says the station won't go dark immediately if the county refuses her funding request, at least "not in one year." "But if you keep bleeding money, after awhile, yeah that's the logical thing," says Garner. WTVI has routinely received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mecklenburg County to cover salaries, equipment maintenance and program costs. But last year, commissioners determined funding for WTVI was not part of the county's core mission. As a result, Garner says WTVI has cut staff positions in half, frozen salaries and ended its subscription to a ratings service. Efforts to fill the budget gap through other fundraising have also fallen short. Without a financial boost, Garner says one of the WTVI's three HD channels may go away, along with some popular - but more expensive - PBS programs currently airing on the station. WTVI has an annual budget of about $3 million.