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proposed Programming Council process

I submitted the following structure assuming that a strong affirmative actions or proportional representation structure be an integral part of the station board elections in order to guarantee diversity in terms of race, gender and economic class. KPFA's election structure currently has this need fulfilled to a certain degree.


Programming Councils:
The Heart and Soul of Pacifica's Governance

(Submitted to the KPFK bylaws subcommittee, 5-2-2002)

Jonathan Markowitz

I propose a dynamic governance concept of structural "checks and balances" that would address the needs and concerns of the station community regarding programming by facilitating an unprecedented degree of involvement by the listening community in determining the station's programming.

The primary component of this concept would be the creation of a station Programming Council process, whose core members would be the elected Station Board whom specifically would have the power to intercede on behalf of listeners regarding programming decisions by the station management.

Through the holding of monthly public Programming Council meetings designated for community input, review and critique of current and proposed programming, a viable and flexible instrument of process will be created to provide a regular forum at which members of the community at large would have opportunity to address or "council" the Station Board in regard to concerns over present or proposed programming.

In addition, the Programming Council process would function, when needed, as an unofficial body with which the first stage of dispute or conflict resolution concerning programming problems could take place.

The Programming Council's decisions should reflect the community's needs and wishes as determined through inclusive and fair Council processes. In this sense a democratic process would be facilitated for all to participate in or witness, thereby providing a mandate for specific action by the Programming Council's Station Board members regarding decisions over station programming.

The qualitative effect of an ongoing public "council" process would cross over into all aspects concerning the progressive communities that Pacifica stations serve. Be doing so, such councils or gatherings, if held at different meeting halls throughout the signal area, would function as community town hall meetings at which the people who constitute the Pacifica family can become more integrated politically, socially and culturally in a way is not possible through any other process. By live-broadcasting such meetings, the community would have the ability to "come together" in a vibrant process through the signal's "voice".

In order to function effectively, Programming Council meetings would need to be held on a monthly basis (in addition to monthly Station Board meetings) and if needed could be held more often to solve or mediate a programming crisis or other Pacifica related problem.

To insure the accountability of the Programming Council process, listeners who are qualified to vote would have the power to call special elections to replace Station Board members whose programming decisions or recommendations are not representing the concerns or needs of the community.

Similarly, listeners who are qualified to vote should have the power to remove a station general manager directly if the situation warranted it.

Of course, in order to insure the Pacifica's mission is being served and to protect the station licenses, the Pacifica National Board through the establishment of a Pacifica National Programming Council would also have the power to remove a station General Manager who may be making programming changes that are antithetical to the mission, or who may not be taking quick action to rectify a technical problem such as prolonged signal degradation or loss, or a programmer who is in violation of FCC law or CPB rules. ["or CPB rules" later removed]

Such determinations by the National Programming Council would be conducted in as public of a way as possible utilizing the signal to once again make such considerations accountable to the listeners. Additionally, Pacifica programs that are produced on a national basis would be reviewed by the National Programming Council to insure national programming does not veer away from the Mission.

Hence you have a basic governance system pertaining to programming that includes the necessary checks and balances to insure the relevance of that programming to the community and to Pacifica's mission.

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