This blog entry is brought to you by the letters P, B and S, and the number one. The PBS, of course, stands for the Public Broadcasting Service, the 36-year-old non-profit public television service. The 'one' is for Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman who recently pledged to aggressively pressure PBS  to "correct" what he sees as "liberal bias" in its broadcast programs. FreePress wants to make sure the public has some input into PBS' programming changes.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a private, non-profit corporation created and funded by the U.S. government to support public television and radio. It provides part of both PBS's and NPR's funding, and was the entity that originally created PBS in 1969. Tomlinson—without consulting his board—last year contracted an outside consultant to tally the political leanings of guests on the PBS show Now With Bill Moyers . Then, in March, at the urging of Bush administration officials, he hired a member of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior CPB staffer. When she was still on the White House payroll, she drafted job guidelines for two ombudsmen hired specifically to review PBS and NPR content.
Tomlinson clearly has supporters. L. Brent Bozel IIl, founder of the Parents Television Council, which single-handedly filed 99.8 percent of FCC indecency complaints in 2003,  had this to say :
PBS is still a liberal monstrosity transforming the hard-earned dollars of many Bush-loving taxpayers into fire-breathing Bush-loathing programming...Conservatives wish every taxpayer dollar destined for public broadcasting in a 21st-century media universe was returned home to their wallets and purses, where it belongs.
A one-person crusade to influence the direction of public television is not in the public's best interest. But then, Tomlinson wouldn't know what the public thinks about PBS content, because he hasn't asked. Gene Kimmelman, director of public policy and advocay for Consumers Union , said it best  :
Policy and programming decisions should not be based on the perceived interests of the public deduced by political leaders and executives under fiscal, political and organizational pressure.
In other words, ask the public about public broadcasting. Have a hearing. Find out whether middle America is concerned about liberal bias or conservative bias or any other bias on PBS—or whether they'd really just prefer to watch Antiques Roadshow and Charlie Rose in peace, thank you. Those public hearings are exactly what the nonpartisan media policy group FreePress  is calling for. It's time to let the public talk about the future of its media. Sign FreePress' petition to hold public hearings and town hall meetings  about PBS's future.