Thursday, November 14, 2013

Steve Brown on Pacifica's debt to Democracy Now!

Letter from Steve Brown

David ---

Nothing I have said should be construed as belittling Democracy Now! or Amy Goodman. Regardless of how much or how little she may fund-raise, DN! is still one of the best shows on the Pacifica network, and should always be broadcast on all 5 stations. My issue is not about her content; it is about her contract.

Amy Goodman is entitled to negotiate the best contractual deal and the highest payment she can get for DN!; but by the same token, Pacifica is also entitled – actually required – to negotiate the best contractual deal and the lowest payment it needs to pay for DN! I do not think that Pacific ever did that. And since all subsequent contract renewals with DN!, after the original signed contract ca. 2001, have been kept secret, it is likely that the terms have gotten worse for Pacifica, not better (or it would have boasted of them, not hidden them).

Right now, Pacifica owes DN! somewhere around $2 million. It is a legal debt, by contract, like it or not. But Pacifica cannot possibly pay off this debt now (or probably ever), given its declining revenues and enfeebled station finances. To put is bluntly, paying that debt would destroy Pacifica as we know it.

So what are Pacifica’s options? It can either negotiate down the DN! debt -- or it can default -- the way Argentina defaulted on its unpayable debts to foreign bankers, and thereby rescued its economy. Or the way I think Rick Wolff and Michael Hudson and Joseph Stiglitz would advise Greece and Spain and Italy and Ireland to default on their debts to foreign bankers, in order to rescue their economies.

But that is up to Summer Reese and the PNB and DN! Are they talking? Who knows? Does Pacifica have a Plan A ... or a Plan B ... or any plan at all? Who knows? Which has always been Pacifica’s problem.

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