Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush's public broadcasting chief to step down

Bush's public broadcasting chief to step down

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kenneth Tomlinson, who drew Democratic ire for trying to add conservative views into public television and radio, said on Tuesday he plans to step down once his successor is named.

Tomlinson has served as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the U.S. government's international programming to Cuba, the Middle East and other areas, since 2002.

Tomlinson said in a statement that he has asked President Bush not to nominate him for another term, but said he would stay on the job until his successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Bush nominated Tomlinson to a second term as chairman in 2005. However, before Democrats regained controlled of Congress in the November 2006 midterm elections, the Republican-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee said it would not schedule at vote on the nomination for the remainder of the year.

Congressional Democrats have demanded that Bush fire Tomlinson, who government auditors said used his office for personal gain.

In a letter to Bush on Tuesday, Tomlinson said he "appreciated deeply" the president repeatedly submitting his name to the Senate panel for reconfirmation.

"However, I have concluded that it would be far more constructive to write a book about my experiences rather than to seek to continue government service," Tomlinson wrote.

Tomlinson previously served as chairman of the presidentially appointed board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He resigned that post in November 2005 after he was criticized for injecting politics into the organization.

The federally funded nonprofit CPB is the largest single source of money for U.S. public television and radio programming, including PBS and National Public Radio.

Tomlinson had sought to add more conservative-minded shows to the line-up to counter what many conservatives considered a liberal bias in public broadcasting.