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PBS chief won't seek third term


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Pat Mitchell

(CNN) -- Pat Mitchell, the embattled president and chief executive of the Public Broadcasting Service, will not seek a third three-year term.

Mitchell has been criticized for the production of a combined cartoon/live action series that included an animated rabbit named Buster who, in one episode, visited a lesbian couple.

Mitchell, who opted not to air the controversial episode, told public television station managers she will leave her job when her contract expires in June 2006.

Mitchell told the station managers her priorities for the remainder of her term include fund raising, broadening public television's reach and resources in the area of educational services and improving children's programming.

"We have a lot to do in the next 15 months," she said. "I have a big agenda and am happy to be in the midst of spearheading some of PBS' greatest successes."

Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations for the network, said there is no link between the "Buster" controversy and Mitchell's decision to leave the nonprofit network and its 349 locally owned and operated stations.

Sloan said Mitchell, 62, told the PBS board when she accepted a second term more than a year ago that she would not serve a third.

"That this has anything to do with her decision not to air the 'Postcards from Buster' episode is incorrect, and to think that her deciding to leave has anything to do with it is blatantly incorrect," Sloan said.

None of the four other CEOs in PBS history has stayed for more than two terms, Sloan said. "It's a really tough job," she said.

During her tenure at the helm of the organization, which produces such award-winning fare as "Frontline" and "Nova," Mitchell has launched a new block of shows for early school-age children, boosting their time-slot ratings by more than 50 percent, Sloan said.

Mitchell also brought shows featuring diversity to the air, including "American Family," an Emmy-nominated hour dramatic series featuring a Latino family; "American Mystery," a special featuring Indians in the Southwest; and "Independent Lens," a showcase for independent films.

And she launched a series of public affairs shows, including "Now with Bill Moyers."

Moyers recently retired from the show as host, replaced by David Brancaccio.

Mitchell, who joined PBS in 2000, is the first producer and first woman to lead the $2 billion public service broadcasting enterprise.

Mitchell's career includes work at NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN as a news reporter, anchor, talk show host, producer and executive.

Her work has been awarded 37 Emmys and five Peabodys, and received two Academy Award nominations.


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