KUAC to discontinue five channels

Nancy Tarnai


KUAC public radio and television will stop carrying several radio and television channels on Oct. 1 due to budget reductions.

The television channels include 9.7 and 9.8, which are radio channels on television, and 9.9, which is 360 North. The station will also stop broadcasting online digital radio channels KUAC 2 and KUAC 3. Those channels provide both programming and streaming service.

In August, the governor vetoed funding for public broadcasting across the state and for the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission. With this veto, KUAC lost $155,539 in revenue for the fiscal year 2020 budget, which began July 1.

In addition to the direct cuts to public broadcasting, KUAC’s budget is also being affected by state funding cuts to the University of Alaska. Those cuts mean an additional reduction of about $500,000, or about 17% of the station’s total FY19 budget of $2.9 million. KUAC is owned and operated by the university and is housed on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

In the last seven years, KUAC has cut more than $1 million from its budget.

“Most of the cuts have been invisible to the public,” said Keith Martin, general manager. “Over the years, we’ve restructured, we’ve cut deals, we’ve streamlined our operations to the point that most of our staff members are doing multiple positions. With the latest budget reductions, the necessary changes will impact over-the-air services as well as staff.”

Terminating the digital radio channels means that KUAC will no longer be able to air the UA Board of Regents call-in public testimony on KUAC 2 or the first hour of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board on KUAC 3. Terminating the KUAC TV channels means that the public will no longer be able to tune in to the digital radio channels or 360 North on KUAC TV.

“(Discontinuing these five channels) will not cover the full cut of nearly $700,000 in a single year,” said Martin. “Unfortunately, with the short notice, we’re continuing to make decisions while attempting to minimize disruptions to our listeners and viewers. But KUAC will not be the same.”

The station will likely find additional cost savings as contracts come to term and KUAC allows them to expire. This will mean that some programming will not be renewed.

KUAC will focus on its primary services, the services that FM listeners have come to expect of their public broadcasting station over the past 57 years and TV viewers over the past 48 years.