Duggan seen heading PBS

The Public Broadcasting Service will name its new president/CEO today, with sources citing Federal Communications Commissioner Ervin S. Duggan as the likely choice.

The announcement follows an extensive search to replace Bruce Christensen, who unveiled his intention to leave the post in May after a nine-year tenure.

PBS officials could not be reached.

If Duggan is the new PBS chief, that would provide President Clinton an opportunity to appoint a third FCC commissioner — a majority of the five-member body — within the first year of his term.

Clinton already has chosen Reed Hundt, confirmed last week by the Senate, as the new FCC chairman and is expected to name a Republican nominee shortly, with San Francisco attorney Rachelle Chong said to bethe leading candidate (Daily Variety, Nov. 22). Having a majority of Clinton appointees on the commission could further administration efforts in support of its policies regarding the information superhighway.

Duggan was named to the FCC by President Bush in February 1990, after serving as national chairman of a Nashville-based organization Presbyterians for Democracy and Religious Freedom. He also worked in the White House during the Johnson Administration with MPAA prez Jack Valenti.

The PBS slot frequently draws political fire from organizations on both left and right, with particular pressure from the latter side, which remains convinced of a liberal bias in public TV programming.

Other candidates mentioned during PBS’ search included Bill Moyers, who reportedly declined the opportunity, and Marshall Turner, a PBS board member and former head of San Francisco pubcaster KQED. Jennifer Lawson, PBS’ current head of programming and promotion, said earlier that she’d withdrawn her name from consideration.

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