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Sitcom writer joins nominees for seats on CPB Board

Originally published in Current, June 26, 2006

The White House announced [June 19] it will nominate a comedy writer, a magazine exec and a former senator to the three vacancies on the CPB Board.

The new name on the list is Warren Bell, a Los Angeles-area comedy writer and National Review Online columnist who is an e.p. of ABC’s According to Jim with Jim Belushi.

Also nominated were two candidates that Senate Commerce Committee leaders had proposed earlier to the White House:

Chris Boskin is a longtime magazine executive, board member of San Francisco’s KQED-FM/TV and the spouse of Michael Boskin, who was Council of Economic Advisers chair in the George H.W. Bush administration. Boskin has managed regional ad sales for Hearst Magazines and The New Yorker and became publisher of Worth magazine in 1993. She is a board member of Educate Girls Globally (EGG), a San Francisco-based nonprofit.

David H. Pryor is a former Democratic senator and governor from Arkansas and founding dean of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Pryor held office for three decades, starting in 1960 as an Arkansas state legislator and stepping up to U.S. representative in 1966, governor in 1974 and U.S. senator in 1978. His son Mark now represents Arkansas in the Senate. The elder Pryor taught politics in Arkansas and at Harvard University after retiring from the Senate in 1996. He headed the Clinton school at its start in 2004 and retired from it early this year.

The Senate Commerce Committee, which will consider confirming appointments, had not yet set hearing dates, a spokesman said last week.

If confirmed, the nominations would appear to restore the full 5-4 majority that the Public Broadcasting Act permits to a political party. With Bell and Boskin counted as Republicans, there would be five members of the party among the nine CPB Board members. Pryor would raise the number of Democrats from two to three. One board member, Beth Courtney, president of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, is regarded as an independent.

It remains unclear whether the White House or the Senate plans to designate a board member to serve as the official radio representative, parallel to Courtney’s role as TV rep. The Public Broadcasting Act, which governs CPB, requires the appointment of a rep of TV stations and a rep of radio stations.

Bell and Boskin were nominated to fill the remainder of six-year terms ending Jan. 31, 2012, and Pryor for the rest of a term expiring Jan. 31, 2008. Bell and Boskin apparently fill the two seats resigned by former chairs Ken Tomlinson and Katherine Anderson (earlier story). Pryor fills a non-Republican seat that has been vacant for more than two years.

Bell promptly revealed on his National Review Online blog that he’ll campaign against a major public TV figure who is more than a little pink.

Bell wrote: “I intend to open my confirmation hearing thusly: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate, three words: No. More. Elmo.’”

With resignations, CPB Board is now one-third vacant

Originally published in Current, March 20, 2006

Katherine Anderson, a Republican member of the CPB Board since 1997, resigned last month, creating a third vacancy on a panel of nine.

In a statement announcing Anderson’s resignation, CPB did not specify why she quit. Her term was set to expire at the end of the year. Anderson did not return a call for comment.

With her departure and that of former Chairman Ken Tomlinson late last year, the board’s Republican majority has receded. The White House-appointed board now has three Republicans, two Democrats and one independent. The Public Broadcasting Act permits the appointment of no more than five board members in a political party.

One of the remaining vacancies should be filled with a public radio representative, according to the statute. Beth Courtney, president of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the board’s lone independent, represents public TV.

Two candidates reportedly have been proposed to the White House for nomination. In July, Senate Democratic leaders asked the Bush Administration to nominate former Arkansas Sen. David Pryor for the vacant minority party seat, but the White House has yet to announce its response. Pryor stepped down last month as founding dean of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas.

The White House is also considering Chris Boskin, longtime publishing exec and KQED Board member, for the CPB Board, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Boskin is wife of economist Michael Boskin, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under the first President Bush, and serves on the Leadership Council of the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.

Pryor, Boskin and a White House spokesman did not return calls for comment.

The White House nominates potential board members for confirmation by the Senate, though the administration can make one-year recess appointments while Congress is out of session.

Web page posted June 27, 2006, updated Sept. 27, 2006
Current
The newspaper about public TV and radio
in the United States
Current Publishing Committee, Takoma Park, Md.
Copyright 2006

EARLIER ARTICLES

Former Chairman Ken Tomlinson quit the CPB Board in November 2005, shortly before the release of an inspector general's report on his partisan activities.

With the resignation of ta second member in February, the CPB Board has been one-third vacant for months.

The law governing CPB says TV and radio will have representatives on the CPB Board. TV has one, but where is the rep for radio?

LATER ARTICLE

Senate panel grants hearing to Boskin and Pryor, leaves Bell behind, September 2006.

OUTSIDE LINKS

White House news release on nominations.

Bell's comedy, According to Jim is in its fifth season on ABC. Since 2005, he has contributed to a group blog called The Corner on National Review Online.

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