Public TV PAC Men Back Off

Dec 15, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Association of Public Television Stations has quietly pulled the plug on plans for a political action committee after the idea evoked controversy among station reps and lawmakers. “It just became a fight not worth having,” said John Lawson, APTS president and CEO. The PAC was intended to improve access of public broadcasters to lawmakers. But Mr. Lawson said some member stations feared it would undermine the perception of public broadcasting’s fairness. On Capitol Hill, Mr. Lawson said the concept elicited support and opposition from both sides of the aisle. One practical concern was that the fund would never be big enough to satisfy everyone, and could even become a net negative. “We would end up telling more people no than we would end up supporting,” Mr. Lawson said. The proposal got particularly negative reviews from Republican leaders, including Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La. “Public broadcasters need to spend more time creating programming and less time creating controversies,” said Ken Johnson, Rep. Tauzin’s spokesman. “Politicizing their activities through a PAC would unleash a firestorm of criticism on Capitol Hill. Bert and Ernie may go together, but pledge drives and political gift giving do not.”