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Program Information
 Updates for Pacifica Affiliate Stations 
 
 News Report
 
 Smithy  
 For non-profit use only.
Producer: lyn/smithy smithy@mindspring.com
Uploaded by: jhughes@changesurfer.com
Here's the report in text form
=====================

This is the Pacifica update for the week ending August 25. I'm [...]

The controversy surrounding Democracy Now! escalated last week as Pacifica suspended the four person crew without pay, even as they continued to produce live broadcasts from an off-site location. Pacifica management continues to refuse to air the live production, and instead fed re-reruns to its affilate stations. Official Pacifica press releases and statements have claimed that the Democracy Now! team has refused to report for work. Pacifica has provided no reasonable explanation for its refusal to upload the daily live production of Democracy Now.

Affiliate stations took matters into their own hands with the assistance of Pacifica station KPFA, in Berkeley, which has defied Pacifica National and is running the live Democracy Now in -exile broadcast. Many stations were able to access the live cast via feeds from KPFA or via the Internet, and arrangements are in the works to assist stations to receive the live program via alternative satellite distribution.

AFTRA, the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, the union representing Democracy Now! staff, as well as other Pacifica National program staff dramatically reversed its position last week. Initially, after negotiations with Pacifica management, AFTRA ordered the Democracy Now crew to return to production in the WBAI studios. Goodman and her crew refused. They stated that they had not been given adequate assurances that the physical and verbal abuse would stop and that there safety would be insured. The substandard studio allocation forced on Democracy Now is also an unresolved issue.

Outraged supporters of the program from all over the country began a phone and letter campaign to AFTRA, condemning their failure to properly defend the Democracy Now! workers.

On August 23, AFTRA rescinded its back-to-work order to the Democracy Now staff. A release posted on AFTRA's web site announced that:

"because of certain events that have subsequently occurred at WBAI, which AFTRA considers inconsistent with the steps that Pacifica had agreed to take to ensure the safety of the Democracy Now! staff, AFTRA has notified Pacifica that it is no longer satisfied that the WBAI studios are a safe and appropriate working environment for the Democracy Now! staff."

Adding to public outrage, and mostly likely contributing to the AFTRA chnage-of-heart, was the release of a clandestine tape recording of a behind-the-scenes altercation at the WBAI studio last February. The tape documents a management loyalist calling Amy Goodman a "white bitch" and becoming increasingly angry and abusive in response to her calm requests for an apology. Her colleague, the recently-banned award winning journalist Robert Knight, is also heard being upbraided as being a "slave" and "nubian" for coming to her defense. Meanwhile, on-air attacks on Goodman and other dissidents continued over WBAI's airwaves, as personnel loyal to management called named banned and fired workers as enemies and called for their "total destruction."

Pacifica and its high-priced PR firm are apparently trying to downplay the AFTRA reversal. On August 24, the day after the AFTRA statement was issued, Pacifica placed a document purporting to be a joint statement issued by Pacifica and AFTRA on its website at www.Pacifica.org which claims that a satisfactory resolution has been reached, which is a lie.

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