The economic woes plaguing the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic are causing continued difficulty for National Public Radio.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the public broadcaster is cutting pay and benefits, hoping to “save jobs and support the future of NPR.” The report says NPR is facing projected losses of up to $53 million in the next two years.
Last month it was reported that NPR was cutting executive pay by 10% to 25%. A memo to staffers from CEO John Lansing said at the time that NPR faced a budget shortfall of $30 million to $45 million through its 2021 fiscal year.
That calculation included an estimated sponsorship shortfall of $12 million to $15 million in sponsorship revenue. NPR had budgeted a total of $115 million for 2020, according to Lansing’s memo.
NPR now anticipates a loss of $40 million to $53 million in fiscal 2020 and 2021.
In the latest round of austerity, the base pay of NPR’s employees will be reduced on a sliding scale of up to 9% through the end of September. Workers will also be offered furloughs, according to a new memo from Lansing to staff.
The public broadcaster will also halt employer contributions to its retirement plan. Workers who make less than $80,000 annually will not see a reduction in pay.
There’s financial suffering across the U.S. media landscape from COVID-19, which has resulted in a massive shortage of advertising revenues. But NPR’s situation is unique: It’s a non-profit that relies heavily on contributions to remain viable.
“We do not have a profit motive or shareholders to serve like commercial media, so all of our resources go toward public service,” NPR said in a statement. “We will continue to manage our budgets closely across the organization — our main priority is to preserve jobs so we can continue providing an essential public service to audiences across platforms.”