Letter to CPB Board, with CMA as a signatory...

Posted by Mitchell - August 4, 2005 (entry 343)

July 28, 2005

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson

Frank Cruz
Vice Chair

Katherine Milner Anderson
Board Member

Beth Courtney
Board Member

Gay Hart Gaines
Board Member

Cheryl Halpern
Board Member

Claudia Puig
Board Member

Ernest J. Wilson III
Board Member

Patricia de Stacy Harrison
President and Chief Executive Officer

Dear Members of the CPB Board and Ms. Harrison:

We believe it is critically important for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to have unimpeachable policies related to corporate governance and public accountability. We are alarmed by press reports over the past several months that indicate a number of troubling activities by the CBP or its directors. We also are concerned that CPB does not appear to have adopted policies promoting public disclosure of its meetings, records and activities.

We share a concern about the health and vitality of public broadcasting. In that spirit, we ask that you submit and support the following resolutions at the next CPB board meeting scheduled for Sept. 19-20, 2005. The following suggestions for board action reflect our views that CPB should act as transparently as possible, particularly when it comes to the allocation of taxpayer funds for certain board activities.

We look forward to discussing these items with you at your earliest convenience:

* No member of the CPB board, including its chair, shall approve a contract without the knowledge of the entire board. Such a contract must have the support of a majority of the board, and be processed by the corporation's president, general counsel and other appropriate staff in accordance with the corporation's rules and bylaws. Any such contract shall immediately be made public.

* CPB shall not conduct any studies or reports on public broadcasting programming without first informing PBS, NPR or the relevant public broadcasting organizations of its intent to do so. Prior to such a contract, CPB shall receive comments in writing from the appropriate public broadcasting entities about the merits of such a study. Only then shall the board vote on the proposed study. Such studies shall immediately be made available to the public.

* CPB shall make its quarterly board meetings available to the public, via real-time online, video, audio and other communications. All other corporation meetings open to the public, including board committees, shall also be available electronically. CPB shall archive such meetings for public viewing. All CPB board agenda items shall be made available to the public reflecting their full record, including any background documents used for decision-making.

* CPB shall permit members of the public to speak at open meetings, within reasonable limits of schedule, by providing notice the morning of said meeting.

* CPB shall also make available, via online and archived files, conflict-of-interest statements filed by all directors.

Please contact Celia Wexler of Common Cause at 202 833-1200 if you have any questions. We will be contacting you soon as well.


Chellie Pingree
Common Cause

Jeff Chester
Executive Director
Center for Digital Democracy

Josh Silver
Executive Director
Free Press

Alex Nogales
President & CEO
National Hispanic Media Coalition

Mark Cooper
Director of Research
Consumer Federation of America

Jerold M. Starr
Executive Director
Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting

Jeff Perlstein
Executive Director
Media Alliance

Jonathan Rintels
Executive Director
Center for Creative Voices in the Media

Mitchell Szczepanczyk
Chicago Media Action

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