Senate communications subcommittee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) told public broadcasters Monday that he’ll soon offer legislation authorizing $ 425 million for the Corp. for Public Broadcasting in years 1997-99.

Inouye’s comments drew loud applause from pubcasters attending the Assn. of America’s Public TV Stations’ annual D.C. gathering.

Congress has appropriated $ 312 million to CPB for the current fiscal year, and Inouye said he hopes to bump that level higher.

But he warned of “dark clouds ahead of us” in Congress, where lawmakers are in a deficit-cutting frenzy. “We cannot put at risk stations that Congress and the American people have supported over the years,” said Inouye.

Nevertheless, he noted the number of public broadcasting stations has tripled since 1967, and suggested that rather than spend coin on “duplicative” stations, the money might be more wisely invested in programming ventures.

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