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Ferree Lands at CPB

Ken Ferree, who has just exited as Media Bureau chief of the Federal Communications Commission under departing Republican Chairman Michael Powell, has landed at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as chief operating officer.

He succeeds Kathleen Cox in that post, who became President and CEO in July 2004, succeeding Robert Coonrod.

Also joining CPB is veteran public affairs executive Nancy Risque Rohrbach as SVP, corporate and public affairs.

"While at the FCC, Ferree gained a reputation as an unyielding supporter of the digital migration and a strong advocate for setting a firm date for completion of the digital transition," said CPB in announcing the appointment.

Ferree backed a plan while at the FCC that would have allowed the government to reclaim analog spectrum earlier than the current DTV switch deadline.

Nancy Risque Rohrbach is a veteran public affairs executive, including with USAir, and is a former assistant secretary of Labor under President George Bush and assistant to the President and a staff member of the Office of Legislative Affairs under President Reagan.

Most recently, she has been the director of National Museum of  Women in the Arts.

The combination of Ferree and the former Republican appointee had Jeff Chester, of the Center for Digital Democracy, suggesting CPB was taking a turn to the right. "Since Ferree’s ideological zeal led to the largest public revolt in FCC history, this will no doubt harm public broadcasting further--even if it brings them better GOP relations."

CPB spokeswoman Jeannie Bunton responded: "Ferree and Rohrbach bring a wealth of expertise and experience to public broadcasting at a time when we face technological, demographic and economic challenges. The transition to digital alone brings unprecedented opportunities and challenges."

They will make important contributions and we are delighted that CPB and public broadcasting will benefit from their efforts."

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.