CPB Board Adopts Governance Reforms

At its May 1-2 meeting, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting  board has voted to adopt a number of changes to its practices and procedures in response to criticisms leveled in an Inspector General's (IG) report last fall.

CPB says the moves will "ensure greater transparency, strengthen Code of Ethics, and instill best-practices in employment decisions," according to a release on the vote.

Calling it the result of a top-to-bottom review, CPB's CEO Patricia Harrison, whose own hiring was the object of IG criticism, said the improvements go "well beyond technical complaince with the recommendations." She also called them "just the beginning."

As outlined by CPB, that beginning comprises:

•"a reaffirmation of CPB’s commitment to ensure greater transparency through its open meetings procedures;

•a revised Code of Ethics policy and new conflicts of interest policy for the Board of Directors;

•a clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors, the Chairman of the Board, and the President of CPB in directing the Corporation’s affairs;

•policy and procedures to prevent the use of political tests in employment actions;

•and a new whistleblower policy and investigation-related records policy that reflect specific Sarbanes-Oxley directives that apply to non-profit corporations."

Yet to come is a revision to its process for handling outside contractors.

The IG report was prompted by legislators concerned with former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson's efforts to balance what he said was a liberal bias in noncommercial programming. That included hiring an outside consultant to review that bias.

The IG last November also concluded that CPB had used "political tests" to recruit Harrison, the former co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

The Public Broadcasting Act prevents CPB, which doles out government funding to noncoms, from influencing programming decisions and attempts to insulate it from politics. According to the Act,"no political test or qualification shall be used in selecting, appointing, promoting, or taking other personnel actions with respect to officers, agents, and employees of the Corporation."

In a Nov. 8, 2005, response to the IG, CPB agreed to adopt new internal controls.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.