The remedies: Reform ideas from all sides

What could Congress, CPB or anyone do to prevent the conflicts, failed decisions and other embarrassments bubbling out of the Tomlinson affair? Perhaps the central problem is that the Public Broadcasting Act tells CPB, run by well-connected political appointees, to protect public broadcasting from political influence while also fostering objectivity and balance on the air. While CPB’s inspector general and many others criticize former CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson for violating the first mandate, he and his supporters at the Wall Street Journal still say he was only doing his duty under the other. Though APTS proposes several reforms at CPB, eliminating this central conflict of interest is not one of them. “It’s a fragile compromise that goes back 40 years,” says APTS President John Lawson.

CPB Inspector General’s recommendations after the Tomlinson episode

Excerpted from Inspector General Kenneth Konz’s full 67-page report (PDF), Nov. 15, 2005. We recommend that the Board of Directors take the following actions to improve CPB’s governance processes. 1) Revise CPB’s By-Laws to:

a) Clarify the Board of Directors’ and President/CEO’s roles and responsibilities (e.g., Board of Directors are responsible for development and oversight of high level public policy issues and CEO is responsible for managing professional staff in implementing policy). b) Develop Board of Director processes to investigate and discipline Board members when they are found to violate the CPB By-Laws, Directors Code of Ethics, CPB’s operating policies and procedures, and the Public Broadcasting Act.