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CPB Says Response to Senator’s Probe Cost Taxpayers $92,000

February 14, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Public broadcasters say $92,000 of the taxpayers’ money went into providing information to a senator who wants to eliminate federal funding for the industry.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other public broadcasting groups were responding to a questionnaire from Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D., who as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee controls the flow of federal funds to the industry.

CPB came up with the figure by estimating the time officials put into collecting the information as well as spending $15,000 in legal fees, CPB Chairman Henry Cauthen said Tuesday.

Pressler’s questions about the ethnic backgrounds, gender, previous employment and political orientations of public broadcasting employees put him at the center of a firestorm earlier this month.

Pressler withdrew the questions after complaints that they invaded the privacy of employees.

Pressler said he sent the questionnaire to obtain more information on how federal funds were used and editorial decisions were made.

The cost of providing the information was as much as CPB provided to some public radio stations this year, CPB said.

For instance, KILI-FM in Porcupine, S.D., received $92,669 _ one-third of its budget _ from CPB. The money can be used to produce local programs, acquire national programming or improve station operations.

Other stations receiving a similar amount are: KNAU-FM, Flagstaff, Ariz., KVPR-FM, Fresno, Calif., WGLT-FM, Normal, Ill., and KFUI-FM, Iowa City, Iowa.

Essentially a clearinghouse for federal funding, CPB distributes money to more than 1,000 stations and groups, including National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service. CPB’s 1995 budget of $285 million accounts for 14 percent of the industry’s total income.

In 1993, the most recent year figures are available, the bulk of CPB’s money _ $125 million _ went to television stations to use at their discretion, $50 million went to create TV programs, $40 million went to radio stations and $18 million went to support radio programs, with other money going to royalty fees, technology and other support services.

CPB said neither it nor member stations used taxpayer money to air spots protesting funding cuts.

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