Tucson’s KGUN Tightens Belt, Eliminating Overtime

By Merrill Knox Comment

Station management at KGUN, the Journal Broadcasting-owned ABC affiliate in Tucson, has announced a series of drastic cutbacks to save money at the station.

In a memo obtained by The Tucson Weekly, KGUN news director Forrest Carr told staffers that the station would have to “tighten our belts in ways that will not be comfortable.”

“First, we have been instructed to eliminate overtime,” the memo reads. “Note that I did not say ‘reduce.’ We will do what is necessary to properly cover the truly big stories, but in selecting stories for a response requiring overtime, we’ll set a high bar.”

Other measures the station is taking to save money include instituting a hiring freeze and using Skype instead of a satellite uplink for field coverage. KGUN will also do away with shift extensions — the practice of having staffers stay for extra time after they are off the clock in order to keep producers in the newsroom in case of breaking news.

Although The Tucson Weekly points out that KGUN’s ratings lag behind KVOA and KOLD, Carr was quick to point out that cost-cutting measures were not tied to viewership. “I very much regret that we are in this position — and I hasten to point out that news ratings are not the issue,” Carr said in the memo. “It’s the economy. Quite simply, we are personally feeling the effects of some of the very issues on which we report every day in our newscasts.”