FAIR study finds strong corporate ties on public TV boards

An “overwhelming” number of board members at five major public television stations have links to the corporate and financial sectors, a new study by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting has found. FAIR, a progressive media-reform group, looked at occupations of current trustees at WNET in New York; WGBH, Boston; WETA, Arlington, Va.; WTTW, Chicago; and KCET, Los Angeles. Of the 182 members, 84 percent have corporate backgrounds. “Another 14 members appear to be on the board because of their families’ corporate-derived wealth,” the report said. Seventy-five board members are financial industry executives; 24 are corporate attorneys.

Ombud answers watchdog’s concerns about public radio’s America Abroad

The ombudsman for America Abroad, a monthly public radio show covering foreign policy and international affairs, has responded to criticism from the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting regarding a recent show about developments in energy technology. In a May 31 blog post, FAIR said that the April episode of America Abroad  “sounded like an infomercial” for fracking, the hydraulic fracturing process used in natural gas production. FAIR pointed out that the show was funded by the Qatar Foundation International, a philanthropy funded by the royal family of Qatar. Qatar is a leading exporter of natural gas — in 2011, it was the world’s top exporter, according to the International Gas Union. FAIR also took issue with the appearance on the show of Henry Jacoby, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor involved with a study about the future of natural gas. The MIT Energy Initiative, which produced the report, includes oil and gas companies as members, and the study’s advisory committee included representatives from natural-gas industry groups.