Media Reformers Want CPB Reform


A dozen media reform groups have renewed their call for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to loosen up a little.

Specifically, they say that after unsuccessful attempts to meet with new President Patricia Harrison, they want public TV's biggest funder to "increase transparency of its decision-making and open its meetings to more public participation."

Coincidentally or not, the letter to Harrison came the same day that CPB's Inspector General was briefing Hill staffers--we hear it was a three-hour meeting--on the progress of its investigation into CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson and allegations he took steps to advance a Republican agenda without letting the board in on his plans.

CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz is expected to wrap up the investigation by the end of next month, but given that Tomlinson will exit as board chairman Sept. 27, a source says he has told interested legislators that he will try to get a preliminary report to them before his exit date.

The groups, which include Common Cause, Free Press, the Center for Digital Democracy, the Benton Foundation, and the Center for Creative Voices in Media, filed a similar letter in July calling for more accountability and transparency, including in how they pick their president, but say they haven't seen any evidence that CPB is addressing their concerns.

Tomlinson has been criticized for the choice of Harrison, a former Republican party co-chairman, and for his efforts to "balance" PBS by adding conservative programming, including hiring an outside consultant--without board input--to gauge the liberal-ness of noncommercial shows including Bill Moyer's NOW (Moyers has since exited) and NPR's Diane Rehm Show.