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ST. LOUIS — At the National Conference for Media Reform on Sunday, Bill Moyers will make his first public statement on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's (CPB) controversial efforts to hold PBS to a partisan litmus test.

Moyers, the former White House press secretary and host of numerous PBS programs and series, including "NOW with Bill Moyers," will appear at 11 a.m. CDT on Sunday, May 15, at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis.

Congress mandated the CPB to insulate public broadcast programming from partisan politics. But CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, a staunch Republican, has launched a personal crusade aimed at "eliminating the perception of political bias" in PBS programs. He has covertly promoted right-wing programming and tried to install his political allies to CPB's board and executive offices. He even contracted an outside consultant to monitor Moyers' weekly PBS news program for signs of liberal bias.

However, a poll taken in 2003 by the CPB itself found that 80 percent of Americans believe PBS to be "fair and balanced." Moyers, whose investigative reporting has appeared on PBS for decades, is the recipient of more than 30 Emmy Awards, nine Peabody Awards, and two Polk Awards, including one for lifetime achievement.

"Tomlinson's partisan witch hunt defies the founding principles of the CPB and is based on unfounded allegations," said Robert McChesney, co-founder of Free Press, the national, nonpartisan media policy group that organized the National Conference for Media Reform. "The future of public broadcasting truly hangs in the balance."

Earlier this month, 50,000 concerned citizens signed a Free Press petition urging Tomlinson to resign for using his position to promote a partisan agenda. Along with a coalition of consumer advocates and media reform groups, Free Press has called for town hall meetings nationwide so Americans can speak directly to station managers and policymakers about what they want and expect from public broadcasting.

"It's time to put the public back into public broadcasting," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press. "It's urgent that we take the debate over public broadcasting out of Washington and place it in the hands of local communities across the country. Any effort to change public broadcasting in a positive direction must be driven from the bottom up."

From May 13-15, more than 2,000 media activists, educators, journalists, policymakers, and concerned citizens from across the country will attend the National Conference for Media Reform, an event designed to move media issues to the forefront of public discourse in the United States.

"During a time when relentless media consolidation has worsened the quality of journalism and slashed budgets for serious investigations, Bill Moyers has exemplified the Fourth Estate at its best," McChesney said. "Strong, independent, noncommercial media are vital to our democracy."

Moyers' speech will be simulcast via streaming video on the Web at

Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization that seeks to increase informed public participation in media policy and to promote a more competitive, public-interest-oriented media system.

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