APTS warns Tomlinson that it will oppose CPB interference with public TV

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APTS sent this letter to CPB Board Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson on June 7, 2005, after media reported that he favors the appointment of former Republican National Committee Chairwoman Patricia Harrison as CPB president. The letter refers to an earlier letter from the Iowa Public Broadcasting Board to the CPB Board.

Dear Mr. Tomlinson:

The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization established to represent the interests of its members — the nation’s public television stations. APTS works closely with individual station representatives to produce effective national policies and strategies that allow stations to fulfill their individual local missions. In fulfilling their missions, public television stations are committed to firm principles of editorial integrity and programming diversity, which are enhanced through digital service. The APTS Board believes that these editorial principles must fully endure in order for public services to remain open, available, and reflective of all Americans.

Therefore, as the representative of local public television stations, the APTS Board of Trustees is writing to endorse the May 16, 2005 letter of Iowa Public Television to the CPB Board of Directors. The APTS endorsement of the Iowa letter is not directed for or against any particular individual. However, the controversy around issues of editorial integrity is already proving damaging to public broadcasting in terms of a negative impact on membership and Congressional support. More than at other times, the next president of CPB should exhibit the highest qualifications for the position.

APTS, on behalf of our member stations, appreciates our constructive relationship with CPB and its support of local stations. We also appreciate and understand CPB’s statutory role in promoting balance in public broadcasting’s programming as well as the Board’s role and responsibility in selecting a new president. We will, however, take any measures necessary to ensure the reality and appearance of the editorial independence of our producers, stations, and national programming organizations.

As stated in the Iowa Public Television letter, it is essential that the leadership of CPB “will, in perception and in fact, maintain the independence and integrity of public television.” The American public deserves no less than absolute and unwaiving [sic] adherence to the principles of editorial integrity and independence in public television programming and services.

Adopted at its May 24, 2005 meeting
by the Association of Public Television Stations Board of Trustees
Julie Andersen, Chair
Byron Knight, Professional Vice Chair

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