'NYT' Preview: New Public Broadcasting Chief Wants Conservative Viewers

By: E&P Staff In this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Ken Ferree, the new president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, says he wants PBS, long considered a liberal bastion, to attract more conservative viewers. "Does public television belong to the Democrats?" he asks.

He also says he still has no idea what led to the recent departure of his predecessor, Kathleen Cox, which according to rumors occurred at least partly because of complaints from conservative groups and the "Postcards from Buster" flap.

"I don't know what led to what," he says.

Asked if he is worried that liberal PBS loyalists may exit, he says: "Well, maybe we can attract some new viewers." More conservative ones? Deborah Solomon asks. "Yeah! I would hope that in the long run we can attract new viewers, and we shouldn't limit ourselves to a particular demographic."

But he also says: "Believe it or not, we don't discuss politics here."

Ferree admits that he doesn't watch a lot of PBS shows--"I'm not much of a TV consumer." He likens "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" to Shakespeare but it is just "slow. ... Sometimes I really just want a People magazine, and often that is in the evening, after a hard day."

He also doesn't listen to much NPR, mainly because, he explains, "I commute to work on my motorcycle, and there is no radio access."


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