WUGA-TV Stopping Locally Produced Programming July 1

The University of Georgia said WUGA-TV will cease local program production effective on July 1.

UGA officials said the decision comes after a recently completed review of the university’s public television station and will also result in a reduction of staff at the facility.

Starting on July 1, the university said WUGA-TV will carry the World Channel from the national Public Broadcasting System around the clock.

UGA Vice President for Public Affairs Tom Jackson called it a minimal change.

Jackson said that except for hourly news breaks on weekdays and occasional specials and documentaries, 99 percent of programming already comes from the World Channel.

With the change, six members of the current staff were told their positions are being eliminated effective June 30, with only a station manager and chief engineer remaining.  Both of those staff members also serve the university’s public radio station, which the school says will continue with its current programming.

The university estimated that it will save $565,000 a year through this change.

WUGA-TV is the former WNEG-TV.

The University of Georgia bought the station in 2008, moved its offices from Toccoa to Athens, then eventually changed the station’s call letters to WUGA.

However, numerous media reports since then have indicated that the station has struggled financially since UGA purchased it.

When the sale was announced in 2008, the University said it planned to use students to assist a professional staff to produce the station’s local content, serving a coverage area stretching from Toccoa to Gainesville to Athens.

In its announcement last week, the University said that senior administrators determined that the time it would take to continue to ramp up student involvement, local programming, and the resultant market share to an acceptable level was just too great relative to the cost of the operation.