House lawmakers call for CPB review - Broadcasting & Cable

House lawmakers call for CPB review

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House Republicans preparing legislation renewing the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting's charter requested that congressional auditors review operations
of the corporation, the primary conduit of federal funds to public stations and
programming.

Led by House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.), the
lawmakers ordered the General Accounting Office to examine the CPB's framework for
distributing funds to public televisions stations, the basis for determining
recipients and size of station grants, the basis for funding national versus
local programming and other operational issues.

The lawmakers -- who also include leaders of Telecommunications and Appropriations
Subcommittees Reps. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) -- praised the
corporation for "significant contributions" to programs that "enrich the
nation."

Despite the adulation, GOP officials have ambivalent relations with public
broadcasting. Although many Republicans approve of the local and educational
focus of noncommercial broadcasters, they complain that the programming often
betrays a liberal bias.

Tauzin has pledged to push legislation this year that would renew and
perhaps make changes to the corporation's charter.

The federal government created the CPB in 1967.

John Lawson, president of the Association of Public Television Stations,
predicted that the General Accounting Office will also investigate new programming opportunities created by
digital technology and the impact of more lenient program-underwriting rules.

Support on Capitol Hill remains strong, he said, adding, "Media concentration among
commercial broadcasters is creating strong reason for Congress to support our
local services."

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