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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Partisanship and Public Broadcasting

June 29, 2005

Re "The GOP Inside PBS," editorial, June 26: Please explain how an organization that is supposed to be nonpartisan can have a Republican chairman and president? I propose having Corporation for Public Broadcasting recipients, e.g. station managers, elect or approve the chairman and president who will be doling out the public's money. Station managers, in turn, can be elected or confirmed by the station members. This would have far less conflict of interest than allowing partisan appointments to a supposedly apolitical organization.

Jonathan Brandt

Calabasas

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The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was created by Congress to shield government-funded public radio and PBS from political influence. With the naming of its new head, Patricia Harrison, a former Republican National Committee vice chair and producer of video news releases glorifying the administration, the first step is a lawsuit to force the corporation to adhere to the intent of Congress.

The founders designed a "balance of powers" among three branches of government and wanted a free press to play a role in that balance as the "fourth estate" so the people could have news to keep ourselves free from tyrannical government. But today's commercial news media, with their accent on infotainment, are often not the fearless, "free" press the founders had in mind.

The issue of public broadcasting is not about "bias" but achieving a balance in the power of information by presenting unvarnished views and facts regardless of the dominant administration.

Commercial media are largely unable to serve in this role, so a vigorous, informative (and, if necessary, dissenting) public news media must be preserved and fostered at all cost.

Jane W. Prettyman

Santa Barbara

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