Saturday, November 9, 2013
A dark man-made cloud...
It has come to my attention that the Federal Communications Commission is in receipt of a formal complaint against WBAI's fundraising tactics, which the complainant (who has requested anonymity) sees as a serious infringement of the rules governing a non-profit broadcaster's solicitation of support. More specifically, as I understand it, the complaint centers around the infomercial-like segments that are out and out sales pitches for merchandise.
It is difficult for me to predict how the FCC will react to such a complaint, it depends on the current commission’s makeup—I believe the present one, headed (as of last month) by Obama appointee, Tom Wheeler, could go either way in a case like this. Years ago, when a Jesuit watchdog group objected to Amiri Baraka’s use of “fuck” in a poem he recited for us, we received notification of the complaint, but it was dismissed because he was an acknowledged, published author. An odd double standard, I thought, as I breathed a sigh of relief.
As was their normal procedure, that complaint was added to the FCC’s Pacifica/WBAI file, which meant that—although it thus did not pose an immediate problem for us—it could eventually become a part of a detrimental accumulation.
This new complaint is more tangible, so I mention the Baraka (then Leroi Jones) case merely to point out how ambiguous FCC decisions can be. I find it difficult to imagine a valid excuse for not looking into such a serious infringement, especially one that is as clear and documented as this one. If the commission has it in for Pacifica, this would be manna from heaven. I don't know if this is an isolated complaint, but, if not, there almost has to come a point where the Commission’s action no longer is theirs to make.
Were WBAI an isolated case within Pacifica, I would be tempted to believe that this might be a part of someone’s wish to get the station out of the way, but the same scenario is apparently played out at KPFK, even with the same leading actors, and I have heard no talk of the PNB wanting to leave Los Angeles.
Personally, I wish WBAI and Pacifica could survive, but only if there are radical changes for the better. That is a prospect for which I bear little or no hope—it is too late, the damage too severe, the bureaucracy too tangled and corrupt.
Given that, I reluctantly feel that Pacifica needs to be closed down, and I am probably being far too optimistic when I wishfully hope that Lew Hill's concept of intelligent alternate radio strikes the fancy of someone with similar ideals and the funds to implement them. Not likely to happen, but I can dream, can’t I?
Having said all that, I think there is sufficient disgust and anger out there to not rule out the possibility of further complaints, and I also see the likelihood of the FTC being set in motion.
What are your thoughts on this?