'Piedmont Politics' falls victim to S.C. ETV budget cuts

South Carolina ETV, facing a $2 million shortfall, has canceled several shows.

One of the first casualties is the Rock Hill-produced "Piedmont Politics."

The half-hour show airs Mondays and Sundays, focusing on York County area issues and politics. It's filmed at the network's York Technical College studio.

Network officials on Tuesday contacted guests scheduled to be on camera the next day and told them not to bother. A manager also contacted "Piedmont" host Terry Plumb, former Herald editor and current contributor.

"I was told not to come back any more," Plumb said. "It was a total surprise."

Each of S.C. ETV's four regional studios is losing a show. Three programs -- "The Link," "The Point" and "Studio 170" -- were to premier this week. Before it was canceled, "Piedmont Politics," the local studio's signature show, was scheduled to get a makeover and name change to "2646."

ETV joins other state-funded agencies charged with slashing $488 million from their budgets. The public access TV and radio network, with its 14 percent cut, is among the state's hardest hit.

"It's a daunting task," said Catherine Christman, the network's vice president of communications. "We have $2.3 million in budget cuts, and we're looking at making ends meet."

Canceling shows is just the first step, Christman said. S.C. ETV hasn't finalized plans to absorb all the cuts. Christman said she expects to have a clearer picture by December. Network officials are looking at staff buyouts and requiring employees to take unpaid leave.

The York Tech studio's future is unclear. For now, the station plans to keep using it.

"I felt like we did a good job with content," said operations manager Tim Coghill.

The studio produces local shows and segments to supplement statewide programs. Shows feature local politicians and community leaders. They also promote area events.

"That's where the value is," Coghill said. "You actually have a mouthpiece for a community this size right next to the giant Charlotte market."