Corporation for Public Broadcasting begins to show unwanted political striping
In a bold move to counter charges of ``politicization'' the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has asked David O. Ives temporarily to become its president. The move followed the resignation of current president Edward J. Pfister amid renewed cries that the CPB has become ``politicized.''
Mr. Ives, one of public broadcasting's most universally respected officials, could not be reached for comment. If he accepts, he would serve an interim term until a new CPB president could be agreed on.
The charge of playing politics was raised last week after the CPB dropped support for a trip by public television officials to visit the Soviet Union for discussions about programming.
CPB president Pfister resigned, claiming the board had unduly restricted the voice of public television. The CPB is a private nonprofit corporation established by Congress to funnel public money to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Sonia Landau, chairman of the CPB board, has made it clear that political issues, such as the current Reagan administration negotiations for an arms treaty with Russia, ought to be taken into consideration.
Ms. Landau objected to the expenditure of public funds for such delegations as the one planning to visit the USSR. ``That sort of thing is not what American taxpayers expect their dollars to be used for,'' she said.
Landau was head of Women For Reagan/Bush during the last presidential election and describes herself as ``a political person in the best sense of the word.''
Bruce Christensen, president of the Public Broadcasting Service, feels that the CPB should not be an ideological screen.
Mr. Christensen says the CPB ``was supposed to function as a kind of heat shield between Congress and PBS, not as a conduit. This [the rejection of the USSR delegation] is the kind of thing which builds barriers.''
Very disappointed in the CPB's withdrawal from the USSR trip, Christensen said he would push the mission forward under PBS sponsorship.
Sharon Rockefeller, a former board chairman and vigorous opponent of Landau, is daughter of former Republican Sen. Charles Percy, and wife of Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D) of West Virginia.
``The CPB as a private entity has been totally undermined,'' Mrs. Rockefeller said referring to the corporation's withdrawal from the USSR trip. She charged Landau with ``politicizing'' the CPB.
Mrs. Rockefeller claims the CPB board voting is increasingly lopsided.
She says that a 6-to-4 voting block has sometimes dominated decisions on major issues such as the rejection of the delegation trip to the USSR.
In March 1986, the terms of three CPB board members expire. Two of those are among the four who opposed the majority in the USSR delegation vote. Ms. Landau's term also expires. President Reagan will appoint replacements.
``Maybe it is time for us to go back to the Congress and ask what exactly they expect from CPB,'' said Howard D. Gutin, a member of the CPB board of directors.
Resigning president Pfister agreed, adding that ``CPB has got to reexamine itself.''