Vermont PBS Fined But Keeps Funding After Open Meeting Violations

Aug 1, 2014

Vermont PBS will not lose federal funding after a number of violations of open meeting rules last year, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ruled this week.

Instead, the station faces a $15,000 fine, which the station “feels strongly” should not have been levied.

The ruling comes after months of investigation that stemmed from an anonymous complaint filed with the CPB in December. The complain alleged that the station’s board had held closed meetings without public notice.

Under open meeting law – which stations must follow in order to qualify for federal funds – board meetings must be warned in advanced, and any closed meetings must be publicly summarized afterwards with the board naming one of a number of specific reasons why the meeting was not open to the public.

An internal Vermont PBS investigation found that while the board meetings in question were properly closed (meaning their reasons for not being public were valid), the station’s board failed to publicly post information about the meetings after the fact.

The CPB investigation echoed those findings, and officials levied the fine over the violations.

“Vermont PBS is disappointed with this decision,” the station said of the fine, “and feels strongly that a financial penalty should not have been issued.”

The board meetings were reportedly held over problems with former station President and CEO John King.

King has since left the station, replaced by an interim president, Charlie Smith.

Editor's Note: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting also provides funding for Vermont Public Radio.