Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson announced that he is stepping down after four years on the job, citing plans to write a book about his experiences in the public broadcasting sector, which many see as skewed by a liberal bias.

“I think it’s a good story that will help the public understand how Washington operates,” Mr. Tomlinson said yesterday. “There’s been a criminalization of political differences.”

President Bush nominated Mr. Tomlinson to serve another term on the board, but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee failed to act on the nomination.

A State Department inspector general investigation ordered by Democratic lawmakers accused Mr. Tomlinson of running a “horse-racing operation” from his government office and said he “improperly put a friend on the payroll.” Mr. Tomlinson runs a stable of Thoroughbred racehorses on his private farm in Virginia.

The results of the investigation were turned over to the Justice Department, which has not brought charges against Mr. Tomlinson. The inspector general reported that Mr. Tomlinson spent fewer than three minutes and sent one e-mail per day on his horse-racing ventures.

Mr. Tomlinson described the accusations as “patently untrue.”

“My critics will say this is an indicator that Ken Tomlinson is quitting public life,” he said. “But I’m just beginning to fight. This book will be a much more effective way to bring to light the injustices done to me.”

During Mr. Tomlinson’s tenure, the Broadcasting Board of Governors worked to open news operations in parts of the world where authoritarian regimes blocked access to information. As a result of these initiatives, an Arabic language satellite TV network now broadcasts in Iraq and other Muslim nations, Persian language satellite news is fed daily into Iran, and radio and television broadcast signals are sent into Afghanistan and Cuba.

The transmissions into Cuba are jammed by what analysts think is a high-cost effort of Fidel Castro’s communist government.

“If what we were doing wasn’t important, Castro would not be spending the money to block the signal,” Mr. Tomlinson said.

Larry Hart, spokesman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said Mr. Bush will select a replacement for Mr. Tomlinson and any other board members whose terms have expired. Board members may serve until the Senate confirms their replacements.

“There may be a number of nominations going forward,” Mr. Hart said.

The board includes four Democrats and four Republicans. The secretary of state serves as the ninth member, giving a one-seat edge to whichever party controls the White House.

“I am proud of my record of service during these troubled times,” Mr. Tomlinson wrote to Mr. Bush yesterday, “and I have appreciated deeply your repeatedly submitting my name to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for reconfirmation to this position. Those who oppose my nomination cite charges against me that simply do not stand up to scrutiny.”

Before joining the board, Mr. Tomlinson served as editor in chief of Reader’s Digest and was director of Voice of America.

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