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‘PBS NewsHour’ plans layoffs as it closes offices

WASHINGTON — “PBS NewsHour,” the signature nightly newscast on public television, is planning its first significant layoffs in nearly two decades.

Facing a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, the show’s producer, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, will close its two offices outside of the Washington, D.C., area — in Denver and San Francisco — and lay off most of the employees there. The company will also eliminate several “noncritical production positions” at its main offices.

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While a spokeswoman declined to comment on the budget, employees who were not authorized to speak publicly said earlier this year that the production company was facing a shortfall of up to $7 million, a quarter of its $28 million overall budget.

Other savings will be achieved by leaving positions unfilled and by streamlining technical operations.

The cutbacks were blamed on, among other things, “a steady drop in corporate revenue.”

Shuttering the offices in Denver and San Francisco will end an era for the “NewsHour,” which long ago also had offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

Some positions were eliminated when the New York office was closed in 1995.

To make up for the loss of reporting staff outside the Washington area, the program will turn to freelancers.

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