The man who helped public broadcasting survive big cuts in federal funds plans to leave his post.
Richard Carlson, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting since 1992, has notified members that he will exit by June 30, saying he is ready for a career change."I am at a point where I am ready to contribute a lifetime's experience to an exciting new venture," Carlson said in a memo to corporation staff. He has not said what he plans to do.
The CPB board will select his successor.
Just two years ago, the industry braced for congressional elimination of millions in federal funds. Lobbying by local public TV and radio stations across the country headed off the effort, though the stations had to settle with reduced federal subsidies.
In anticipation of that, Carlson pushed the industry to be more efficient, advocating consolidation or pooling resources among overlapping public stations and urging the industry to bring in more revenue from selling merchandise attached to popular shows.
Essentially a clearinghouse for federal funds for public broadcasting, CPB distributes the money to more than 1,000 public TV and radio stations and groups, including National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.
To insulate recipients of CPB funds from political pressure and to accommodate a typical three-year lead time for program production, Congress appropriates CPB funds two years in advance.
Public broadcasting's 1997 budget is $260 million. For 1998 and 1999, it's budgeted to get $250 million each year.
In the current Congress, there's doesn't appear to be an interest in wiping out all the industry's federal funding, but there is likely to be a fight to maintain current levels.
In March the House Appropriations Committee in will hold a hearing on appropriations for 2000.
Federal funds account for 14 percent of public broadcasting's total income. The rest of its funding comes from businesses, foundations, and state governments.