Make the Elections Policy Work for Pacifica

Dear Pacifica National Board members, We are members of the paid and the unpaid staff of KPFA who urge you to revise the elections policy requiring every program to produce and air one 15 minute tutorial on the election twice during the 30 day nomination period. This is a bad idea for several reasons: * Audience Killer: We all support the PNB mandate to take steps to increase our audience. Fifteen minutes is an eternity in radio. This mandate to impose over 35 hours of repetitive tutorials is guaranteed to irritate our listeners and drive many of them away. Given the disastrous state of Pacifica's finances, we cannot afford to jeopardize our listenership and fundraising. * Free speech: Producers understand that they may at times be pre-empted for special programs. It's quite a different matter to force us to produce segments on a topic we would otherwise not choose to. Forced speech should not happen at an institution that values free speech. * Programmer Liability: To expect each and every programmer accurately to present the intricacies of the Pacifica election process for 15 long minutes is a set up. Best intentions notwithstanding, many programmers are likely to be accused of misinformation or bias in presenting a contentious issue many of us would prefer to avoid covering on-air. * Discipline and litigation: The last thing we need is a cycle of disciplinary actions against producers or managers over an explosive issue like forced programming. This will be contentious, time consuming and may end up in further litigation. It has been 10 years since a heavy-handed and tone deaf Executive Director and Pacifica National Board forced a crisis that nearly destroyed our network. We recognize that the elections policy is different than the actions that precipitated the crisis of 1999. The two actions, however, share the unfortunate characteristic of being imposed from on high without consideration of their impact on our station and listeners and without adequate consultation with programming staff. We share the concern about low voter turnout, but there are better alternatives that would serve our listeners such as brief, well produced recorded announcements that point listeners to a website where they can get more information. We urge you to reconsider your policy and adopt one that the staff and listeners all can move forward with. Sincerely,

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KPFA paid and unpaid staff.

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