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Proposals re: on-air policies for IPNB meeting

From: Bob Lederer
Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2002 1:33 AM
Subject: Proposals/comments re on air policies for I-PNB meeting

[This is being posted to several Pacifica-related list-servs. Unfortunately, I will not be able to respond to any comments, as I am leaving later this morning for a week in Berkeley. Please post comments anyway, as I certainly hope the Board postpones this so we can continue the debate until the next Board meeting.]


I am forwarding draft proposals from Interim Pacifica Natl. Bd. members Leslie Cagan and Dave Fertig regarding "on air policies" -- not necessarily as text that I support, but to spur discussion. While much of Leslie's proposal seem fine, several producers I've talked to share my serious concerns about some aspects of Part 2. (Unfortunately, there has not been time to consult with a broad number of WBAI producers.) It appears that some of this wording, however unintentionally, could lay the basis for future gag-rule style crackdowns on producers who dissent against management. Also, we are very troubled by the idea of STARTING a complaint process against producers at the level of station manager (as opposed to department head or Program Director) and, even worse, the national Executive Director. Any complaint process should be consistent with those established by the most protective union rules.

Several of us are also opposed to Dave Fertig's language prohibiting "the abuse of airtime to advance a position in internal station disputes" -- even with his qualifying language that follows, there is simply no need to restrict this in a blanket manner. If Dave's intent is to deal with the rare producers who drone on about narrow in-house matters in a way that makes for bad radio, I understand that concern. But like other aspects of bad radio, I would submit that that should be handled by dialogue, suggestions, feedback and evaluation by the department heads and Program Director, not by rigid rules with punitive consequences.

Anyway, several of us will recommend that because of the late notice on this, neither Part 2 of Leslie's draft nor any of Dave's draft should be voted on at this Board meeting. Rather, these proposals should be held over to the next one, to allow thorough discussion and proposals for redrafting by staff members and their unions at all 5 stations.

By the way, my understanding is that the Appendix is outdated when it uses the "current" in the following sentence, "The current Pacifica 'Dirty Laundry Rule' in the Pacifica Manual (Page 13, "In-House Rules") at rule 4 states...." When the new Interim Natl. Bd. repealed the old gag rule on Dec. 29, 2001, I think everyone understood that this "dirty laundry rule" was repealed as well, at least until the Board replaced it with something else.

Bob Lederer
WBAI producer


Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2002 13:59:52 -0500
From: Leslie Cagan
Subject: proposals re on air policies for IPNB meeting

About a week ago I posted the two resolutions below to one listserve--and forgot to state that it was fine to pass this along to other lists. Since I took myself off several lists some time ago (there was simply too much email to keep up with), I am hoping those of you getting this now will send it out as widely as possible.

Also, please remember that these are being circulated in order to get more input before the upcoming Interim Pacifica National Board meeting. There is still time to refine, amend, add to, or otherwise improve these. Thanks.

Leslie Cagan


RESOLUTION REGARDING ON AIR POLICY - submitted by Leslie Cagan Introduction: At the Dec. 29, 2001 meeting of the Interim Pacifica National Board a resolution lifting the "gag rule" was passed and later upheld by the settlement judge. There were several provisions in the resolution that were tied to the convening of the first in-person meeting of this Board. Other pressing matters made it impossible for us to revisit this issue until now.


The Pacifica Foundation and each of our five radio stations are in a period of great transition. As we recover from the deep wounds of the recent past, and as we rebuild the governance structures of this organization, we are also examining how we best serve the Mission and the communities we live in. For this process to be successful we must be committed to the full and open exchange of ideas and differing points of view. It is from this perspective that the Interim Pacifica National Board re-affirms our earlier decision to eliminate any "gag rules" that were previously in place.

While the Interim Pacifica National Board encourages open and honest debate of the issues, we will not allow the use of our air for personal attacks or vendettas. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic or other language that derides, mocks, belittles, insults or otherwise denigrates any single person or group of people based on their physical appearance or ability, age, religion, ethnic heritage or economic class will not be tolerated. Further, self-promotion and personal attacks (as opposed to the articulation of political differences) on other programmers, producers, station or Foundation personnel are not acceptable.

Any complaints about the abuse of our air, at any of our five stations, should be made in writing (hard copy or email) and sent to Pacifica's Executive Director and the appropriate station manager. Based on agreements in any union contracts and any other contractual or legal obligations related to this issue, the Executive Director and station manager will develop a suitable course of action, including issuing a warning, taking disciplinary steps, and even the possibility of removal from the air. Such action should be taken immediately and explained in writing.

The Interim Pacifica National Board calls upon each of our five stations to guarantee programming specifically about governance issues in Pacifica. As we move toward the elections of all of our Local Advisory Boards it is critical that our listeners are educated and informed not only about the process but also about the underlying issues. Expanding and strengthening the electorate must be a serious part of the overall process.

We are supportive of efforts to develop nationally coordinated programming while we re-affirm the right of each station to make its own programming decisions. We remind the station management that the development of such programming should be done in cooperation with the LABs. And we encourage the leadership at all of our stations (both management and LAB) to be in touch with one another to discuss possible joint efforts.

The Interim Pacifica National Board commits ourselves to not abuse our role as members of this Board. Specifically, we will not insist that we go on the air at any of our five stations, nor network wide. This does not restrict or prohibit us from responding to requests by program producers to be on their shows. Similarly, we call upon all of the members of the five Local Advisory Boards to respect the integrity of producers by not insisting on or demanding airtime.

At the same time, we are committed to providing regular reports to the listeners. Within five days of any and all meetings of the National Board (be they in person or via conference call) the Chair of the Board will prepare an on air report and update for the listeners. Each station must carry this report, although when they do so is up to their management. In addition to posting the minutes of all meetings, the National Board will also post a report/summation of all meetings on the Pacifica web site. Further, we instruct the Executive Director to post regular updates and information on major developments throughout the network.


Motion: On Air Policy: Revoke "Gag" Rules; Revise "Dirty Laundry Rule" - submitted by David Fertig

"Any past or existing Pacifica or Pacifica Station rule or policy which restricts discussion on the air or otherwise of Pacifica's mission, its principles, processes and/oprocedures is hereby revoked and replaced by the following:

It is the policy of Pacifica not to permit the broadcast of personal attacks or personal characterizations, unconsented disclosure of private personnel matters or the abuse of airtime to advance a position in internal station disputes. However, this policy is to be liberally interpreted to allow civil and principled discussion of matters of concern to the Pacifica family, including Pacifica's principles, processes and procedures."

first submitted on January 12, 2002, by Dave Fertig, iPNB rep., KPFK Local Advisory Board


APPENDIX RE: DIRTY LAUNDRY RULES: BACKGROUND: The current Pacifica "Dirty Laundry Rule" in the Pacifica Manual (Page 13, "In-House Rules") at rule 4 states:

"It is against Pacifica Policy to broadcast internal station disputes. There is no quicker way to kill an audience, and it is totally contradictory to our mission and goals. Our air time is precious and is used for programming - not for airing programmer's grievances or internal station politics. Violation of this policy results in you immediate suspension from the air."

At KPFK, a policy memo was issued February 28, 1996 by Station Mgr. Mark Schubb, the day after he stopped a program mid-sentence in which public meetings were being announced to discuss KPFK and Pacifica policies:

"Dear Programmers and Board ops: We need your help in honoring KPFK's longstanding policy against airing "dirty laundry," including "event" announcements for that purpose. Even if the offense is by a guest or a caller, please remember that it is your responsibility to cut it off immediately and to move on. This is one of the few rules we have at KPFK that will absolutely lead to permanently being removed from the station."

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