By John Clarke
(Reuters) - The National Black Church Initiative has called for a boycott of U.S. radio network NPR over the cancellation of its program "Tell Me More," the group's leader said on Thursday.
Non-profit NPR, which receives public and private funds, said on May 20 that it was cancelling the program and laying off 28 employees as part of budget cuts. "Tell Me More," which focused on black and minority issues, is due to go off the air in August.
The Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the church group, said NPR had a problem with diversity.
"They're painting themselves as the greatest liberal radio station that you can listen to," he said. "Now, they have a demographic problem going forward. They'll be no longer relevant to African Americans."
In a letter last week to NPR Chief Executive Jarl Mohn, Evans said he had asked RBCI church members, which he estimated at 15.7 million in 34,000 church affiliates, to withdraw support for the network and refrain from making donations.
"We cannot be expected to donate to a station who has failed minority voices in America," he wrote.
NPR spokeswoman Isabel Lara said in a statement on Thursday that "Tell Me More" host Michel Martin would stay with network.
The statement said NPR believed that "in today's media landscape we can bring Michel Martin's voice and the best aspects of the show to a larger audience more affordably by making the moves we announced last week."
(Reporting by John Clarke in Annapolis, Maryland; Editing by Ian Simpson)