National Public Radio yesterday announced that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has agreed on a lifesaving loan of $9.1 million--the amount of the deficit NPR expects in fiscal 1983.
But under the terms of the loan NPR would have to surrender some authority to member stations.
NPR's acting chief operating officer, Ronald Bornstein, announced during a closed-circuit program to NPR's 280 stations nationwide that the interest rate on the loan will be significantly below market rates. He also said that the CPB, which acts as a conduit for public broadcasting funding, has agreed to forgive recent loans to NPR totaling $600,000.
"The plan is designed to enforce fiscal control and ensure maintenance of your programs," Bornstein said.
If the member stations agree to the plan by the July 13 deadline, they also will be agreeing to assume NPR's responsibility for repaying the loan during the next three years.
"I don't see any kind of alternative to these arrangements," said Donald Mullally, interim chairman of the NPR board.
Most of the telephone responses from the stations were positive, although some program directors asked for assurances that the satellite relay systems will be protected, as well as their essential programs.
Bornstein said the CPB would protect the member stations in both areas.
The money to repay the three-year loan will come from the local stations' community service grants that are allocated by CPB to both the stations and NPR. During the next three years, CPB will cut back on the grants to NPR and give more money to the stations to use at their own discretion.
In 1984, for instance, CPB will allocate $10 million to NPR. But in 1985, CPB will give $8 million to NPR and $2 million to the stations. By 1986, CPB plans to give only $6 million to NPR, and $4 million to the stations.
"It's a good system of checks and balances for the system," said Bornstein. "It offers a greater degree of programming diversity by the stations."
"We are concerned about the stations," said a CPB spokesman. "In effect it allows the stations, to a larger degree, to oversee NPR."