WNET, the New York City public television broadcaster, said Friday that it will return a $3.5 million grant it received to sponsor an ambitious project on public pensions amid charges that it solicited inappropriate underwriting for the series.
In the absence of the funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the project, called “Pension Peril,” will go on hiatus, although WNET will continue to report on the topic. The series, which began in September and was announced in mid-December, was examining the economic sustainability of public pensions.
Earlier, following a critical report on Wednesday by David Sirota on the website PandoDaily, WNET officials said they were comfortable with the foundation’s funding. Mr. Sirota sharply criticized WNET for accepting the Arnold Foundation money because John Arnold, a former hedge fund manager, has financially backed efforts to convince municipalities to cut public employee pension benefits.