LEWISTON — Maine Public Broadcasting Network announced Thursday that it will close two of its seven radio towers and one of its five television towers, citing decreasing federal and state subsidies as well as member donations.
Radio stations 89.7 WMED in Calais and 106.5 WMEF in Fort Kent, along with WMED-TV Channel 13 in Calais, will be shut down in January, according to an announcement made by MPBN President and CEO Jim Dowe.
“In response to reductions in funding at all levels, and particularly to cuts in state funding and the loss of various federal grants, it is essential that we take steps to protect MPBN’s valued programming on radio, television and on the web,” Dowe said in a statement. “However, we have no choice but to make changes elsewhere in how we operate.”
MPBN also announced it would layoff six of 86 full-time staff members and impose a hiring freeze that will affect three open positions. Finally, some employees will see temporary wage reductions of 5 to 20 percent and temporary suspension of MPBN’s contributions to employees’ 403(b) retirement plans.
“We had to look at the whole basket,” explained Craig Denekas, chairman of MPBN’s board of trustees. “We looked at everything and came up with a complete package. We made the best possible decision out of a bad situation.”
David Morse, the station’s vice president for advancement, said despite the cuts, MPBN will not reduce its reporting staff.
“The quality of the content we produce will not change,” he said.