Bush Pushes Bell Onto CPB Board

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The administration will ring in the new year with a Bell.

The President Wednesday named conservative Hollywood TV writer and programmer Warren Bell to fill the remaining vacant seat on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The President Wednesday named conservative Hollywood TV writer and programmer Warren Bell to fill the remaining vacant seat on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The recess appointment came after the Senate took no action on the president's June nomination of Bell. Bell's criticisms of public broadcasting, including reportedly wanting to dismantle it, raised concerns in the noncom community.

Bell, was to have gotten Senate Commerce Committee vetting Sept. 21, but his nomination was taken off the agenda after some Democrats registered complaints. Pryor and Boskin went on to breeze through the hearing.

Bell is an outspoken conservative TV writer and producer--According to Jim, Coach, Ellen--whose writings, and comments, concerned the public broadcasting community.

The nine-member board has been revamping oversight policies in the wake of an Inspector General investigation of former Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson that concluded that it had become too politicized. Republican Tomlinson sought more conservative programming to balance what he said was a liberal bias in public broadcasting. It was a charge that has imperiled funding for the service in the Republican controlled Congress.

In October, the Senate confirmed David Pryor and Chris Boskin to the board. Pryor is a former Senator and Governor of Arkansas. He is seen as a tough but fair moderate who could bring more Blue State backbone to the board. Clue: He was the dean of the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Ark.

Boskin is a magazine executive and board member of noncommercial KQED San Francisco.

The Center for Digital Democracy's Jeff Chester, a vocal Bell critic, called it a "Christmas gift to the right wing of the media establishment." But he also said it was mitigated by the fact that it is an interim appointment--the term is only until the next Congress adjourns--and the fact that the Democrats are in the majority.

"Bell will have little room to maneuver with Ed Markey 9D-Mass.) staring them down," he said.

Markey, the presumptive chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, is one of public broadcasting's strongest supporters.

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