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Cuts Would Close Stations, Hurt Programs, C.P.B. Chief Says

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Washington

Cuts in federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that were approved last week by the House could force some stations off the air and would seriously harm distance-learning and school-outreach services, according to the corporation's president, Richard W. Carlson.

"These are very serious cuts," Mr. Carlson said of the impending vote on the reductions during a March 14 board meeting of the C.P.B., which distributes federal money to public television and radio stations and to producers.

One provision of the House rescissions bill, which would cut a total of some $17 billion in funds that have been appropriated for 1995 but not spent, would slice 15 percent out of the C.P.B.'s fiscal 1996 funding and 30 percent of its fiscal 1997 appropriation.

Unlike most federal agencies, the corporation's appropriation covers three years at a time, and its fiscal 1995 funding of $285 million would not be affected by the House bill. The cuts still must be approved by the Senate.

Many Republicans want to eventually eliminate all federal funding for the C.P.B. But the House last week rejected by a vote of 350 to 72 an amendment that would have made deeper cuts.

"This amendment hastens the planned demise of the [C.P.B.] and reveals very clearly the extremist agenda of the Republican majority," said Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y.

Dire Forecasts

"Some stations are going to be forced to close," Mr. Carlson told the C.P.B. board last week, asserting that services such as closed-captioning, on-line networking, distance learning, outreach to public schools, and workplace training "will disappear."

"This is not an exaggeration to make a point. It is a fact," he said.

Steven Schwartz, a vice president of National Economic Research Associates Inc., a White Plains, N.Y.-based economic-consulting firm, delivered a grim forecast to the board.

"The best economic evidence suggests that only a fraction, on the order of 14 percent, of the lost federal funds would be replaced by individual donations," Mr. Schwartz said, and some estimates of how much money public broadcasters could earn from sales of toys and other products are wildly inflated. (See Education Week, Feb. 1, 1995.)

"There is a real myth about licensing revenues and how much money is out there," he said.

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