For Immediate Release Media Reform Groups Call for More Sunshine at Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Seek Greater Openness, Accountability and Public Participation

Posted on September 14, 2005


Mary Boyle, Common Cause

(202) 736-5770

Craig Aaron, Free Press

(202) 265-1490 ext 25

Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy

(202) 494-7100

Groups call for more sunshine at Corporation for Public Broadcasting

In letter to CPB, media reform groups seek greater openness, accountability and public participation

WASHINGTON -- Twelve media reform groups on Wednesday called on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to increase transparency of its decision-making and open its meetings to more public participation.

In a letter to CPB President Patricia Harrison, the groups proposed a series of measures to encourage greater openness and accountability at the organization, which is the largest single source of funding for public TV and radio programming. The letter was signed by Common Cause, Free Press, the Center for Digital Democracy, the Benton Foundation, the Center for Creative Voices in Media, Chicago Media Action, Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, Hawaii Consumers, Industry Ears, Media Alliance, Reclaim the Media and the Writers Guild of America East.

That letter followed unsuccessful attempts by the reform groups to meet with Harrison and individual members of the board before the CPB's September 27 meeting. The groups first raised concerns over the internal workings of CPB after Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson secretly hired a political operative to scrutinize programming on PBS and NPR for signs of "liberal bias." An investigation by Inspector General Kenneth Konz into Tomlinson's actions -- including the hiring of Harrison, former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee is due to be completed next month.

In a letter sent in late July, the reform groups called on CPB Board members and Harrison to consider a series of resolutions that would make the CPB more transparent and accountable to the American public. Harrison responded in a letter that these concerns already were "addressed by current practice and policy." However, neither the Public Broadcasting Act, the CPB Web site, nor CPB bylaws include language addressing the groups' concerns.

The text of the letter sent by media reform groups today, and of Harrison's letter to Common Cause, follows:

Coalition letter link:http://www.commoncause.org/atf/cf/{FB3C17E2-CDD1-4DF6-92BE-BD4429893665}/COALITION RESPONSE TO HARRISON TRANSPARENCY 9-15-05.PDF

Harrison reply link:http://www.commoncause.org/atf/cf/{FB3C17E2-CDD1-4DF6-92BE-BD4429893665}/HARRISON REPLY 8-18-05 PDF.PDF

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Media and Democracy

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

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