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Bush Called On to Fill Broadcast Board Seats

November 05, 2005|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Public broadcasters called Friday for the White House to quickly nominate candidates to fill the two empty seats on the nine-member Corporation for Public Broadcasting board, including one that has been unoccupied for three years and another vacated Thursday by former chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson.

"We feel it is really important that the vacant seats be filled and the board be brought to full strength," said John Lawson, president of the Assn. of Public Television Stations. "Some healing needs to take place, and there's a need not only for long-term reform but to raise the stature of that institution."

White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said President Bush was working to fill the vacancies in a "timely manner." The Senate must confirm the president's nominees.

Tomlinson resigned after the board met in closed session this week to discuss the findings of the corporation's inspector general, who conducted a six-month investigation into the former chairman's efforts to promote political conservatives within the public broadcasting system.

The report has not been made public. But a statement released by the board announcing Tomlinson's departure said that he "strongly disputes" the inspector general's findings.

Tomlinson's term as a member of the board would have expired Jan. 31, but he could have remained in his position until December 2006 if no one had been appointed to the seat, which by statute must be filled by a Republican.

Meanwhile, a Democratic seat on the board has remained empty for three years. A few months ago, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave the White House his nomination for the position: David Pryor, the former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator. Pryor's nomination is backed by many public broadcasters.

Healy declined to comment on Pryor but said that the White House hoped to fill the seat soon.

"We are working closely with the Democratic leadership on that position and will have an announcement in a timely manner," she said.

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