Citing the need to continue National Public Radio's two major news shows, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting voted last night to give the financially strapped network $921,000 for the rest of fiscal 1985.
The CPB board specified that the money go directly to "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," the award-winning programs CPB called "the jewels" of NPR programming.
The CPB board's action was prompted by an emergency request last week from NPR for $1.3 million to make up for a projected shortfall in nongovernmental revenues. That loss would have endangered the network's current program commitments and jeopardized its goal of meeting an adjusted fiscal 1985 budget of $21.3 million, network officials told CPB.
Asked about the remaining gap in needed revenues, a NPR spokesman said last night, "The implications of the CPB response to our requests in light of our needs will have to be carefully considered."
NPR's tenuous financial condition was also the subject of a report released yesterday by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) in which the General Accounting Office said the financial management system had improved but the restricted finances at NPR left "no room for error."
The CPB money was given with the stipulation that any grant revenue received by NPR in excess of $3.5 million, the cost of NPR programming in which CPB invests, be used to pay back the $921,000. Donald Mullally, NPR board chairman, announced that, besides further fund-raising, the board would meet next month to look at other budget adjustments.
Earlier in the day Dingell, the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees public broadcasting, said, "GAO's audit indicates that NPR has gone to considerable lengths to put their financial house in order." But the GAO also called NPR's future "tenuous" and said the network is fighting rising costs and an employe morale problem.
In the report, Frederick Wolf, a director of GAO, said, "Despite the improvements made by NPR and the monitoring performed by CPB, we cannot offer assurance that NPR will continue as a viable entity. NPR's fiscal year 1985 budget is so tight that there is virtually no room for error and no reserve for contingency."
Acknowledging that the stringent policies of the last two years would have to be continued, NPR President Douglas Bennet said yesterday, "The GAO report illuminates the important opportunity that CPB has to continue to help with the recovery of NPR, now and as we plan for fiscal year 1986. NPR for its part is determined to continue the most rigorous management of its finances to assure the effective use of resources."