Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Head of Seattle's public-TV station to step down amid devastating debt

Head of Seattle's public-TV station to step down amid devastating debt:

The president of Seattle's public-television station abruptly announced his retirement yesterday, noting "others may not believe I'm the one to lead the station" through its profound financial problems.

Burnill "Burnie" Clark, 61, who has led KCTS since 1987, said the station would also scale back production of national shows and would lay off up to 25 percent of its staff, about 35 jobs.

KCTS has piled up millions in operating deficits and cannot pay its bills. It owes $229,000 in rent to Seattle Center, $2.8 million in back dues to the Public Broadcasting System and its cash deficit tops $1.2 million.
And it has long stopped producing the kind of quality local programming that is its primary mission.
Clark blamed Channel 9's woes on the poor economy nationally and regionally.

But a Seattle Times investigation — which Clark knew was scheduled for publication this weekend — found instead that many people cite mismanagement and, in particular, Clark's leadership.

Employees, former executives and the station's own paid consultants say Clark runs the public entity like a private fiefdom. They say Clark, whose total compensation is $268,000 a year, does not tolerate opposing opinions and dominates a weak board of directors.

"There was a real need for critical voices," said Sturges Dorrance, former general manager of Seattle commercial station KING-TV and a KCTS adviser. "But from what I understand, critical voices were not listened to."

"The scandal of KCTS," said Barry Mitzman, who worked at KCTS for 19 years and hosted its "Serious Money" show until 2001, "is the failure to serve the public trust, to use its license effectively, or to create the kind of relevant, well-grounded programming that made people here feel proud and connected."

Vanessa Greene, a consultant who spent two months assessing KCTS last fall, said recently: "I think the people of Seattle should be up in arms about that television station. It's absolutely outrageous the way it's being run. If there were stockholders, these guys would have been thrown out years ago — particularly Burnie Clark."

No comments:

Post a Comment