Planned NPR buyouts of employees over the next year will be the solution to the organization’s on-going budget issues, it was announced Friday. Voluntary staff buyouts are expected to reduce the number of people working for NPR by 10 percent.
The buyouts follow a deficit reaching $3 million in the current fiscal year, according to the New York Times. In the fiscal year beginning this October, projections show NPR could go a further $6.1 million into the red. By October 2014 the buyouts and other cost cutting actions are expected to help the public radio organization break even for the year.
One NPR spokesperson said that involuntary measures may have to be taken if cost reduction goals are not met. NPR currently employs 840 people, both full-time and part-time. As Washington Post points out, this could be one of the largest NPR buyouts and staff reductions in the radio organization’s history.
In 2008, NPR laid off 64 staff members, an eight percent employee reduction, and cut several programs. Since then, however, a number of new employees and positions have been filled. Many of these went into NPR.org and their online presence.
The recent announcements may seem surprising. Expansion online as well as a new, $201 million headquarters building near Capitol Hill, and new bureaus worldwide may have made NPR appear to be in an upswing. Even several of their major programs have seen a continual increase in audience numbers.
Despite this, NPR has continued to move toward deficit. But why is this? The outgoing chief executive of NPR, Gary Knell, has shown concern about financial issues in the past. He says that a drop in corporate advertising has been a major blow to the organization’s budget and will likely lead to deficits.
National Public Radio currently receives less than two percent of its funding federally. Member stations that pay dues to NPR get around 15 percent federal funding themselves. The rest of NPR’s budget comes from donations and corporate sponsors.
More details regarding the planned NPR buyouts are expected to be announced in the coming week.