Republican to Lead US Public Broadcast Body

27 June 2005

To the dismay of American liberals, the US Corporation for Public Broadcasting has chosen a right-leaning Republican as its new president and ceo.

The appointment of Patricia Harrison, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, was announced as the House of Representatives restored a proposed $100 million (€83m; $55m) cut from the CPB budget.

If the move is approved by the Senate later this summer, main CPB funding next year will stay at its current $400m level.

Harrison's arrival has added insult to injury among the nation's left-leaners. The CPB's chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, appointed by President George W Bush, earlier this year accused public television of "liberal advocacy journalism".

Wails Chellie Pingree, president and ceo of lobby group Common Cause: "It sets the wrong tone for dealing with some of the challenges that are facing the CPB right now. She [Harrison] has all the wrong experience and comes across as too partisan of a player for this particular job."

While Democrat Senator Frank Lautenberg comments: "This is a fatal blow to the historic political neutrality of the CPB."

The Corporation was set up in 1967 by Congress to shield public broadcasting from political influence. Its nine board members are political appointees, with a 5-4 Republican weighting. It gives federal dollars to the Public Broadcasting Service, National Public Radio and hundreds of commercial-free radio and TV stations.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff