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PBS prexy will ankle next year

Mitchell to take off in '06

PBS prexy Pat Mitchell announced to representatives of member stations Tuesday that she will not be staying on after her contract expires in June 2006.

Mitchell’s plan to leave came as no surprise to the org, according to a PBS spokeswoman, who said Mitchell had disclosed her intentions when she agreed to a second term in 2003.

Conservatives as well as liberals have criticized programming during Mitchell’s tenure, which began in 2000. Conservatives claim it often contains a liberal bias; liberals say that in her attempts to counter that perception — by hiring conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, for example — Mitchell caved in to the criticism.

Besides weathering controversies over programming choices, PBS under Mitchell has grappled with funding challenges, including a 25% funding cut proposed in the most recent budget the White House has sent to Congress. PBS is also contending with the estimated $2 billion costs for the transition to digital television.

Mitchell gave no reason for the departure and did not inform her staff in advance of the announcement.

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