Nominees: More Clout for CPB

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To prevent partisan bias, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting might need more authority over programming produced with its funds, two nominees for the CPB board told members of Congress Tuesday.

"I agree there’s a problem here," Cheryl Feldman Halperin told the Senate Commerce Committee, which held a hearing on her nomination and that of fellow nominee Elizabeth Courtney. Halperin was responding to questions from Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and other Republicans who complained about the use of federal funds to produce what they say are highly partisan shows such as Bill Moyers’ Now.

"I personally think he’s the most partisan and unbalanced person in media," Lott complained. Lott and other Republicans have long complained that programs on public broadcasting contain a persistent liberal bias.

CPB currently is prohibited from being involved with the production of shows funded by grants it doles out, Halperin responded. "Perhaps CPB should have more clout," she said. "I’m an old school journalist," Courtney added. "But we have a situation today where a lot of people [reporting news] have opinions."

Senators also held a conformation hearing for Michael Gallagher, nominated to be head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Committee Chairman John McCain promised to hold a vote on the nominations "as quickly as we can."

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