The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) last week appointed Patricia S. Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, to be its next president and chief executive. Later the same day, the House of Representatives voted to restore $100 million to the CPB’s budget.
However, even with the restoration of funds, public stations still came up short for the money needed for the transition to digital broadcasting and an interconnect system proposed to link PBS with affiliate stations. Also not restored was funding for a new children’s program service.
The actions came as CPB and public broadcasting has been in a firestorm of controversy involving political influence over the content of programming. The New York Times reported that the CPB’s chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, has taken steps to correct what he and conservative critics see as liberal bias. Television and radio executives have responded by accusing Tomlinson of threatening their editorial independence.
In the midst of the controversy the House Appropriations Committee cut $100 million from the corporation’s $400 million budget. Thousands of viewers mobilized to protest. However, the action in the House still left public broadcasters short for technology upgrades and the proposed PBS “Ready to Learn” program for children.