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Mitchell Exiting PBS Next Year

PBS President Pat Mitchell will leave her post in June 2006 when her current contract expires, she told representatives of member stations in Washington this week.

A PBS spokeswoman said Mitchell’s plans to leave next year had been clear since she re-upped for a second term leading the program distributor in 2003.

Mitchell, along with leaders of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and of public stations, meet Wednesday for the third of four Digital Funding Initiative meetings designed to map out public television’s mission in the digital age.

The final meeting is scheduled for March 24 and the panel recommendations shortly thereafter.

The initiative is chaired by former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and ex-Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale.

The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday regarding public broadcasting’s budget.

Republican lawmakers of late have used the hearings to complain about a perceived liberal bias on public broadcasters’ programming. As PBS has taken steps to assuage their concerns, including adding conservative Tucker Carlson to the lineup, Mitchell and other public broadcasting leaders have come under fire from the left.