Printed on: January 06, 2011

KPVI announces layoffs

By Jeff Robinson

KPVI Channel 6, the Pocatello-based NBC network television affiliate, will lay off 12 employees and eliminate its weekend newscast.

Shelly Goings, KPVI's general manager, confirmed the changes Wednesday.

"It's the whole economy thing," Goings said. "With our budget (for the year), we wouldn't have been able to even break even."

The news comes eight days after Brenda Baumgartner, the station's news director for 11 years, announced she's leaving her job effective Monday. She has accepted a position at

Portneuf Regional Medical Center in Pocatello, where she'll oversee the hospital's public relations, marketing and physician recruitment.

KPVI anchorman Todd Blackinton is assuming the news director duties.

The layoffs leave KPVI, which also has an office in Idaho Falls, with a 10-person news and production team.

"We're doing the best we can with what we have left to take care of the community's news needs," Goings said. "We're going to be lean and mean. Todd Blackinton is taking Brenda's spot, and he has some great ideas."

Goings said most of the layoffs will take effect after Sunday's 10 p.m. newscast. Three of the staff reductions won't happen until the last week of March.

Beginning Jan. 15, the station no longer will have a 10 p.m. newscast on Saturdays or Sundays. "Jared Scott Outdoors," which airs at 10:30 p.m. Sundays, will fill the 10 p.m. slot that night.

The station will continue to offer its morning news show at 6 a.m., as well as nightly newscasts Monday through Friday at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Channel 6 and 9 p.m. on the FOX station.

The changes come on the heels of the announcement that the area's oldest TV station, KIDK Channel 3, would lay off 27 of its 43 employees and enter a staff-sharing agreement with KIFI Local News 8.

The phenomenon isn't unique to eastern Idaho.

"There are layoffs and cutbacks everywhere," said Diana Marszalek, who reports on the industry for the website TVNewsCheck .com.

Goings said her station has lost much of its advertising revenue during the recession and in the face of increased competition. Among the station's competitors are the cable companies that carry its signal.

Local cable providers have ramped up their efforts to sell ads onto cable networks, such as ESPN or the History Channel, exponentially increasing TV advertising opportunities for local businesses when compared with even 20 years ago.

More competition and fewer dollars to go around has been a difficult equation for local TV stations across the nation.

"Businesses are trying to cut costs," Goings said. "They've got to make payroll and pay their bills and they've got to find a place to cut, so they cut their advertising."

KPVI is owned by Las Vegas-based Intermountain West Communication Co.

On Wednesday, Marszalek wrote, "The changes in Idaho Falls-Pocatello -- long known for being one of the smallest markets able to sustain three robust news-producing affiliates -- leaves KIFI as the only fully staffed TV news operation in Eastern Idaho."