Tomlinson Survives Ouster Attempt - Broadcasting & Cable

Tomlinson Survives Ouster Attempt

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Former CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson remains chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors after, according to various reports, Democrats on the board failed in their proposals to either remove him from the post in the wake of criticisms of his tenure in a State Department report, or cut back his authority while the allegations are being investigated.

According to Tomlinson-watcher Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, the swing vote was that of Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state.

The BBG overseas the government's international broadcasting operations, and Tomlinson has been criticized for hiring a friend as a contractor--Tomlinson identifies him as Les Daniels--using government resources to support his horse racing business, working on CPB matters at BBC, asking for compensation from both BBC and CPB for the same hours worked; and working more hours than he was allowed by law.

Tomlinson has vigorously defended his tenure:

"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.

"It was well known and accepted by all that because of the importance of what I was doing in the war on terror that I would be working more than 130 days a year. I was appointed by Presidents to serve on two boards and I believe I was the first person in history to be chairman of two boards at the same time.I made diligent efforts to bill each board only for the work I did for each board.

"I also am proud of the work retired VOA employee Les Daniels--who previously had spent 35 years at VOA and was a revered figure there--has performed for VOA and U.S. international broadcasting.

"I am confident that I spent far more time on broadcasting responsibilities at my farm and my private residences than I spent on my horses at the office--an average of one email and two and a half minutes a day, using I.G. [inspector general] figures.In retrospect, I should have been more careful in this regard.

"But I believe it will become clear this I.G. investigation was inspired by partisan divisions inside the BBG," divisions that were front and center in the Democrat attempt to oust him.

Tomlinson has been under increasing scrutiny following investigations at CPB and most recently by the State Department.

Tomlinson resigned his CPB board chairmanship last fall under increasing criticism of his attempts to add conservative programming to the service to counter what he said was liberal bias. But he remained atop BBG, though his term expired in 2004. He was renominated by the President in 2005, but the committee held up considering the nomination while the various investigations were being undertaken.

Tomlinson gets to serve until a replacement is named, so he will not have to exit when Congress does at the end of the year.

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