Dec
10
1999

Pacifica's WPFW Axes CounterSpin

Media Criticism Show Cancelled After Three Earlier Instances of Censorship

Without notice to producers or listeners, the Washington, D.C.-basedPacifica affiliate WPFW has cancelled FAIR's radio show, CounterSpin. FAIR learned of the cancellation early this week when listeners called our offices to ask why the show was not on the air.

CounterSpin--a media criticism show--has been censored by Pacifica stationsfive times this year for covering the ongoing crisis at the network. Abrief history:

4/16/99: Los Angeles Pacifica affiliate KPFK refuses to run a CounterSpin featuring Larry Bensky, the recently fired host of Pacifica's Sunday Salon.

4/19/99: WPFW cuts off the CounterSpin broadcast featuring Bensky in mid-interview.

*7/16/99: KPFK edits a broadcast featuring KPFA local advisory board member J. Imani and media critic Norman Solomon to include commentary on Pacifica from KPFK station manager Mark Schubb.

7/19/99: WPFW refuses to run the show featuring Imani and Solomon.

11/9/99: WPFW interrupts CounterSpin in the middle of an item about the "reassignment" of Pacifica Network news director Dan Coughlin.

In an indication of WPFW's hostility to efforts to cover the crisis atPacifica, program director Lou Hankins told FAIR associate Laura Flandersthat the station pulled CounterSpin's July 16 discussion of Pacifica issuesbecause "We're not putting that garbage on our air." (In These Times,9/5/99)

When FAIR contacted WPFW this week to ask why, after years of providing the station with a high-quality show for free, FAIR had been given nonotification of its cancellation, general manager Bessie Wash replied only,"I'm sorry if that upsets you." She gave no explanation for thecancellation.

"It's hard to conclude this is anything but a final act of censorship byWPFW," commented CounterSpin co-host Steve Rendall. "For years, WPFW has runour analyses of fear and favor at other news outlets-but when we turned ourattention to Pacifica, WPFW repeatedly interfered with and finally cancelledour show."

*Clarification: CounterSpin's 7/16 Pacifica segment was aired in full by KPFK. However, the show's lead segment on automobile consumer reporting was edited out of the broadcast--apparently to make room for Schubb's comments about Pacifica and calls from listeners, which aired for the remainder of the CounterSpin time-slot. This action is more properly described as interference with the integrity of CounterSpin than as censorship of Pacifica issues.

ACTION: Contact WPFW and ask why they cancelled CounterSpin, and why theydid so without notifying either Pacifica listeners or FAIR. If you are aWPFW listener, or a member of a Pacifica station elsewhere in the country,be sure to include that information in your letter. As always, pleaseremember that letters with a calm, professional tone are taken moreseriously than angry ones.

CONTACT:WPFW2390 Champlain Street NWWashington, D.C. 20009PHONE: 1-888-770-4944.(Bessie Wash, general manager, x348)(Lou Hankins, program director, x336)FAX: 202-588-0561wpfwfm@aol.com

Pacifica Foundation National Office1929 Martin Luther KingBerkeley, CA 94704PHONE: (510) 843-0130 or 1-888-387-8263FAX: (510) 845-0289pacno@pacifica.orgmfberry@sas.upenn.edu