NPR warns of major cuts due to coronavirus
NPR will be instituting severe cost-cutting measures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Wednesday internal memo, with a budget deficit looming as high as $25 million through fiscal 2021.
The COVID-19 crisis, which has wreaked havoc on most of the media industry due to declining ad revenue, has hit NPR’s sponsorship and donation revenue particularly hard, according to CEO John Lansing’s memo first obtained by The New York Times Thursday night.
Source shares a pretty dire email sent yesterday by @NPR CEO John Lansing: Between a big sponsorship hit and extra costs, they face a $16-25 million deficit, and are slashing costs in hopes of avoiding job cuts.
— Ben Smith (@benyt) April 16, 2020
The nonprofit generates much of its revenue outside of government funding from fees and dues provided by member stations across the country, which are also under economic duress.
Despite the sponsorship and donation shortfall, NPR has no immediate plans to cut jobs. The nonprofit media organization currently employs 700 people.
“We do not have any position eliminations on the table now, and it is our goal to avoid them as much as is reasonably possible,” Lansing wrote. “However, I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t guarantee anything other than that is my intent.”
Lansing says the cuts will likely come primarily by freezing new hiring, bonuses and raises, along with scaling back travel, conferences and promotions.
“NPR is taking a significant budget hit because of the economic lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” NPR said in an official statement. “We do not have a profit motive or shareholders to serve like commercial media, so all of our resources go toward public service.”
“We will continue to manage our budgets closely across the organization — our main priority is to preserve jobs. During this pandemic and beyond, NPR will continue to provide an essential public service to audiences across platforms,” it added.
“Other news organizations are taking some drastic steps right now to deal with their finances,” Lansing wrote. “They need to return profits to investors. We don’t. But we do need to survive financially, and ensure NPR can continue to serve stations and the public for the coming years, so all of our resources go toward public service.”