Martin Rubenstein, former president of the Mutual Broadcasting System, yesterday was named president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
By a 10-to-0 vote, the CPB board thus ended a seven-month search to replace Edward Pfister, who resigned in mid-May after several confrontations with CPB board Chairman Sonia Landau at a public broadcasting convention in San Francisco.
Rubenstein and three other unnamed finalists met with the board's search committee here Thursday.
He said yesterday that he had been approached several months ago about the CPB position. He declined to discuss what salary he will be paid, but Pfister was reportedly making $83,300 annually when he left.
Rubenstein said that "I am looking forward to this new assignment with a great deal of enthusiasm. A lot has to be done. I am particularly appreciative of the unanimous vote this morning. The board is a good group."
Asked if, considering the stormy history of his predecessor, he expects any problems, Rubenstein said, "I get along with anybody. I have a great deal of respect for the chairman."
Rubenstein said the only member of the board he knows personally is Harry O'Connor, who is in the radio business in California.
O'Connor, like Landau and R. Kenneth Towery of Austin, Tex., are currently serving board terms that end in March, although all three can be reappointed by the Reagan administration.
Two other board members, Lillie Herndon of Columbia, S.C., and Howard White of New York, concluded their long terms on the board with yesterday's meeting. In all, the Reagan White House will have five seats to fill this spring.
The CPB was set up by Congress in 1967 to serve as a nonpolitical "buffer" between Congress, which authorizes funding of the system, and the public radio and TV stations that receive the money -- which this year amounted to about $160 million. Although the bulk of the federal money is passed directly to the stations (which in turn help support PBS and National Public Radio), CPB maintains its own programming funds, which it dispenses directly to producers or to NPR and PBS, as it chooses.
Yesterday, Bruce Christensen, president of the Public Broadcasting Service, seemed pleased with the CPB choice.
"We're certainly pleased to have a broadcaster at the head of the organization and we look forward to working with Marty. We hope he'll get up to speed quickly and we plan to explain to him soon what our television needs are and where we at PBS hope to go.
"PBS certainly needs the help of the Corporation to achieve our objectives. Marty certainly knows how the FCC functions and he knows Congress. All that is very positive. He's a good choice."
Before joining Mutual in 1978 as executive vice president for administration, Rubenstein had spent 17 years with the American Broadcasting Companies, where he rose to vice president and general manager of ABC News.
At MBS, he was named president and chief executive officer in November, 1979. He left MBS in April, 1984. For the past 22 months, he has been a communications consultant in Washington