By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/25/2005 5:57:53 PM ET 2005-05-25T21:57:53

From public radio stories that look critically at Israel's policies in the Mideast to television stories on the negative effects of oil drilling in environmentally protected areas, some conservatives say what you see and hear is far too liberal.

“The bias is noticeable,” says Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media. “Conservatives have long complained about this going back, literally decades.”

In fact, Republicans in the mid-1990s fought to end taxpayer funding of public broadcasting. They lost the battle. Part of the reason for the loss was no one wanted to be responsible for taking Big Bird off the air.

Now some conservatives are trying a new strategy. They want to make public broadcasting more conservative.

“You and I both know that public television is never going to turn right wing,” says Kenneth Tomlinson. “What we're seeking here is balance.”

Tomlinson isn't just any conservative. He is the chairman of the board at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in charge of funding many PBS and NPR programs.

He has introduced new shows on PBS like the "Journal Editorial Report," with writers from the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page and "Unfiltered," with conservative host Tucker Carlson, a show on which Tomlinson recently appeared.

“We're simply trying to make public television attractive to a broader cross-section of Americans,” says Tomlinson.

Tomlinson declined an interview with NBC News.

His chief target is the weekly public affairs show "Now." He complains the show's previous host, journalist Bill Moyers, and most of its guests are left wing.

Moyers denies the charge and recently blasted Tomlinson.

“The problem was that we were telling stories that partisans in power didn't want told,” says Moyers. We were getting it right, not right-wing.”

Pat Mitchell, the president of Public Television, also says Tomlinson's claims just aren't true.

“We don't belong to the red constituency, the blue constituency, the purple constituency,” says Mitchell. “We belong to the public.”

Where do PBS viewers stand?  According a study Tomlinson's agency commissioned, a majority of Americans do "not believe programming on public broadcasting is biased."

Tomlinson though is not backing down. And this battle over bias is not going away.

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