Latino Public TV Program Developer Shuts Its Doors


The National Latino Communications Center, a nonprofit developer of Latino-oriented programming for public television, has shut down--at least temporarily--because its funds are being withheld by the Corp. for Public Broadcasting, which is investigating financial discrepancies in the organization.

The 23-year-old center closed its doors Thursday, said Jay Rodriguez, chairman of the board for the Los Angeles-based group. Center officials were planning to meet today with CPB executives to address concerns about use of programming funds received from the corporation.

The National Latino Communications Center is one of several consortiums that funnel money from CPB and other sources to minority-based projects. It was co-producer of 1996’s “Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.”


CPB is the organization that distributes congressional appropriations for public broadcasting. Its inspector general is finalizing an audit of the Latino center. The audit, which began last August, covers fiscal years 1995 through 1997.

“They are challenging some expenditures that have been made,” Rodriguez said. “This isn’t anything that hasn’t happened before. We have faced this before, although we have never had to close our doors.”

Rodriguez said that CPB is withholding more than $1 million in funding and that the Latino center has not yet received a contract from CPB for the current fiscal year, which started last October.

“We hope to clarify a lot of these concerns that CPB has and open our doors again very shortly,” Rodriguez said. “We only want to be closed for a very short period.”

The center for several months has been fighting charges by a former employee of improper management and expenditures. Rodriguez said that three earlier audits cleared the organization of any wrongdoing.

The future of the center remained in doubt as CPB executives indicated in a statement Thursday that more funding for the center will not be forthcoming until officials there provide satisfactory answers to inquiries about expenditures.


“CPB repeatedly has asked the NLCC to provide explanations for discrepancies in reported salary, finance and expense statements,” CPB executives said. “We have had no adequate response. CPB has sought assurances from the NLCC that programming funds, which are restricted, are used for programming. We have yet to receive adequate assurances. Now they have chosen to close.”

A CPB spokeswoman declined to provide specifics about the concerns or the discrepancies.

The corporation also expressed disappointment with the closing but added: “We are aware of the NLCC’s financial difficulties. We are also mindful that their past management decisions have led them to this point. We understand that ultimately it’s their choice.”

CPB maintained that the organization and its board of directors “remain committed to supporting programming that reflects the diversity of our nation.”

Executives added that the Latino center did not file its budget with CPB for the current fiscal year until January, three months after the deadline.

Rodriguez said the center was hoping to develop several projects, including a documentary on famed singer Maria Felix and a Christmas show, “Feliz Navidad,” with musician Nati Cano.

“Closing down is not something that we wanted to do,” Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of programs in development. We’re not totally broke, but we hope to be back in business very soon.”