Copyright 1999 British Broadcasting Corporation BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
August 06, 1999, Friday
SECTION: World Broadcast Information; USA/YUGOSLAVIA; WBI/0032/WB

"Turmoil" reported at radio KPFA in California SOURCE: Source: Voice of America, Washington, in English 1736 gmt 31 Jul 99

Text of "Communications World" report by Voice of America on 31st July

Here in the United States, a prominent broadcasting story has been the turmoil at noncommercial radio station KPFA in Berkeley, near San Francisco, California. KPFA is one of five FM stations of the Pacifica Network, which emphasizes multiethnic and progressive programming with a left-of-centre political outlook.

In March, the Pacifica Network management dismissed KPFA general manager Nicole Sawaya. This led to a series of protests by the staff of KPFA, which led to more dismissals. On 13th July, Pacifica Network management locked the KPFA staff out of the station's studios. KPFA news reporter Dennis Bernstein was heard on the air protesting his eviction by security guards.

Mary Francis Berry, head of the Pacifica Foundation board, has been trying to institute programme changes to increase the size and diversity of the audience for the Pacifica stations. The KPFA workers protested that Pacifica management methods were undemocratic. Each faction has accused the other of racism.

On Friday [30th July], the Pacifica Foundation board announced that it will reopen KPFA and allow the staff to return. The board will remove itself from the management of KPFA for a period of six months to one year. KPFA supporters complain that the offer was made outside of the mediation process.

Pacifica's FM stations are located in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Washington. There have been many rumours that Pacific might sell KPFA in Berkeley and/or WBAI in New York. These two stations transmit on frequencies above 92 MHz, which is above the segment 88 to 92 MHz which is reserved for noncommercial stations. As such, KPFA or WBAI could be sold to commercial broadcasting companies for many millions of dollars, thus alleviating Pacifica's financial problems. Pacifica management denies that it intends to sell the stations.

You can follow this unfolding story at the Pacifica web site, http://www.savepacifica.org, and at the site of the KPFA activists, http://www.savepacifica.net

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