Kenneth Tomlinson To Exit BBG


Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson has said enough is enough.

The chairman Tomlinson has asked the president not to nominate him again as head of the government's international broadcasting arm. He said he will serve until a replacement is found, but that he is going to write a book. He'll have plenty of material.

The President has placed the nomination "repeatedly," only to be rebuffed by Congress. Tomlinson is the former Corporation of Public Broadcasting Board Chairman who exited after a contentious term in which he drew fire from the Hill, and eventually a CPB Inspector General's report , for using political litmus tests for new hires and for his efforts to add more conservative programming to noncommercial TV and radio to balance what he said was a liberal bias there.

He also caught flak at BBG, and survived an attempt to oust him .

Tomlinson was criticized for hiring a friend as a contractor, using government resources to support his horse racing business, working on CPB matters at the BBC, asking for compensation from both BBC and CPB for the same hours worked and working more hours than allowed by law.

Tomlinson, who said the investigation was prompted by partisan divisions in the board, has vigorously defended his tenure by saying "I am very proud of what I have accomplished for U.S. international broadcasting--from satellite television to Iran to the role I played in getting funding for satellite television to the Arab world to what we have done to expand broadcasting to the people of Afghanistan," he told B&C when the State Department report was first issued.

But in a letter to President Bush, Tomlinson said, "I have concluded that it would be far more constructive to write a book about my experiences rather than to seek to continue government service.”

New House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) was pleased by the news. "The resignation of Mr. Tomlinson from the Broadcasting Board of Governors is welcome news for those who want to improve the image and reputation of the United States and convey positive images and messages about our nation to the world in a manner that is bipartisan and de-politicized," he said in a statement. "I urge the Bush Administration to seize upon this opportunity to nominate a new Chairman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors who will better reflect the Board's long history of bipartisanship in fulfilling its important mission."

Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, a longtime Tomlinson critic, shared that sentiment, but said Tomlinson's exit shouldn't lay to rest the BBG-related allegations. "Congress should still investigate Tomlinson's handling of the BBG and institute reforms. He has served a `negative role model for future chairs of CPB and BBG."