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Friday, August 1, 2014

Vermont PBS Fined $15,000 for Inappropriate Board Meetings

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Vermont PBS has been fined $15,000 for failing to provide public notice of meetings. 

click to enlarge John King
  • John King
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting levied the fine yesterday after investigating a complaint that the station's board met numerous times without proper notice.

Some of those meetings followed a former female employee's complaint that former president and CEO John King repeatedly directed sexually explicit remarks at her and engaged in other inappropriate behavior.

CPB found that the board did not post proper notice of some of those  meetings on its website, running afoul of open meeting rules that require government bodies to convene in public with advance notice.

Vermont PBS, formerly known as Vermont Public Television, said it would pay the fine through income it generates through commercial license agreements with radio and cellular providers, and not from viewer donations.

CPB declined to impose penalties that would have affected the station's ability to participate in federal grant programs.  CPB provides roughly 16 percent of Vermont PBS's $7.7 million operating budget.
The station said it was "disappointed," with the decision, and did not believe a financial penalty was warranted.

"We are pleased to put this experience behind us," Charlie Smith, interim Vermont PBS president, said in a prepared statement. "Today, Vermont PBS is a unified and strong organization and the staff is performing with excellence in fulfilling the core mission. We are excited about the future of public television in Vermont, and look forward to continuing to educate, entertain, and inspire community viewers.”

Several sources corroborated the female employee's assertions, but King vigorously denied the complaint, saying it was "fully investigated over the course of several weeks and found to be unsubstantiated."

King and VPT announced they had "parted ways," in April, though the station refused to say whether he resigned or was fired. King had spent 27 years at the station.

VPT's internal investigation determined in February that the board's closed-door meetings were held for legally permissible reasons, but should have been disclosed after the fact.



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Mark Davis

Mark Davis

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Mark Davis is a Seven Days staff writer.

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