Principles of Pacifica Programming Policy
It is the unique responsibility of the Pacifica National Board to ensure that adequate resources are available for national and local station operations. It is the responsibility of the Pacifica National office and the Pacifica local stations to allocate resources to develop mission-driven programming and to bring the most successful local programs and Pacifica voices to larger and more diverse audiences, in accordance with approved Pacifica governance policies and guidelines.
The role of programming in the network is to: (1) fulfil the Pacifica mission; and, (2) to build audiences capable of keeping the Foundation's broadcast operations self-sustaining. The purpose of this policy is to establish conditions that are conducive to the creation of mission-driven programming and to bringing a variety of Pacifica voices, on a range of topics, to the public.
Currently, Democracy Now! Pacifica's flagship national program '“ which Pacifica no longer produces -- earns nearly $1 listener-sponsored dollar out of every $4 collected; more than 4 out of 10 Pacifica listeners say they listen to Democracy Now! If Pacifica offered other well-produced, mission-driven programs, it is reasonable to conclude that our audience and financial base would increase.
Pacifica programming is supported by a network operational infrastructure: Pacifica shall adequately fund and display in the budget the activities that support the networkâ€™s affiliate program, network broadcasting and technical operations, internet and web site development, as well as its newsgathering operations.
1.0 Programming includes[i]: local station programming, national programs, network broadcasts, affiliate programming, commissioned programs (for example, Free Speech Radio Newsâ€™s documentary programming).
1.1 Local Station Programming: Building and sustaining an audience is one of the chief responsibilities of local station management. It is a function of providing local station listeners with a lively mixture of local and national programs, network broadcasts, commissioned programs and other types of programming. Similarly, arts, science, cultural and music programming are every bit as essential as news and public affairs. Certain mission-driven programming â€“ news for example â€“ requires a larger allocation of staffing and production resources, but sustains a broad-based and diverse audience over time. Local stations must develop coherent plans to schedule programming strategically, throughout the week, in order to maximize listenership to mission-driven programming. They must learn how to promote their own programming effectively. Local station management must be capable of using research and marketing programs to reach listeners who simply do not know the station is there. General Managers ("GMs"), Program Directors ("PDs") and Local Station Board ("LSB") Program Committees and/or Program Councils must be trained, as an urgent priority, to use program evaluation, audience research and membership and listener/membership databases as empirical tools to plan schedules and develop programming effectively. Local stations should assess their program schedules annually to identify and prioritize areas of programming that should be strengthened and underserved audiences, demographic groups and community needs for which programming should be developed. General managers must ensure that local station program goals and station services are identified annually, in conjunction with an assessment of community needs, and initiate budget plans and policy initiatives capable of meeting them. Local station program policy should include apprenticeship and training programs for volunteers; a fair and open approach to evaluating program and programming proposals; and a commitment to encouraging demonstration projects and pilot programs, as well as originally produced station specials.
Local stations may explore developing mission statements that describe the role they see their station playing in implementing the Pacifica mission. WPFW, for example, has a mission statement consistent with Foundation's mission that articulates a coherent vision for community radio in the nation's capital.
1.3 Network Broadcasts: shall ALWAYS provide that the local station in a city from which the program originates play a substantial role in developing, hosting and producing the broadcast. Network broadcasts should be produced collaboratively, between stations, reporters, producers, hosts and programming collectives.
1.5 Affiliate Programming: with nearly 100 affiliates nationwide, Pacifica may do well to air examples of the finest programs produced by its affiliate stations; the program "Sprouts", available on the AudioPort, provides audio evidence of the astonishing variety of programming being produced by Pacifica's affiliate stations -- including several groundbreaking internet radio stations.
2.0 Mission-Driven Programming: is programming that fulfills the six purposes detailed in Pacifica's Articles of Incorporation, namely: (a) to establish a Foundation organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes; (b) to establish and operate for educational purposes, in such manner that the facilities involved shall be as nearly self-sustaining as possible, one or more radio broadcasting stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission; (c) in radio broadcasting operations to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community; to conduct classes and workshops in the writing and producing of drama; to establish awards and scholarships for creative writing; to offer performance facilities to amateur instrumentalists, choral groups, orchestral groups and music students; and to promote and aid other creative activities which will serve the cultural welfare of the community; (d) in radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms; (e) in radio broadcasting operations to promote the full distribution of public information; to obtain access to sources of news not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community.
Local stations' budgets and other policy documents shall define annual program goals and station services, in accordance with the mission. The Pacifica mission envisions no conflict between arts, science, history, cultural, music and news and public affairs programming. Programming for children, youth, seniors and other audiences is presumed in the Pacifica mission.
There is a clear need for the Foundation to support well-produced, sustainable, national and international "hard" news programming and commentary. (Pacifica's local stations often develop news programming that uniquely serves women, working people, communities of color, non-English speakers and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities, that potentially serve national audiences).
2.1 Programs that Build Understanding Between People: an important category of programming includes those programs which, whether arts, cultural, news or public affairs-- build bridges of understanding between people with different backgrounds or conflicting views. Program Evaluation processes should be concerned with identifying programs that have this potential and we should consider allocating production resources to bring such programs to wider audiences.
3.0 Sale and Syndication of Pacifica Programming: it shall be the policy of the Foundation to permit the sale of programming produced by Pacifica to nonaffiliated noncommercial broadcasters and to commercial broadcasters. Such sales shall not be permitted unless the agreements stipulate that Pacifica retains total editorial control of programming, total ownership of Pacifica-produced programs and total freedom to distribute any and all Pacifica programming as it sees fit. The Executive Director may consider requests by broadcasters to produce paid programming commissioned by other broadcasters for their exclusive use. All such agreements shall be negotiated by the Pacifica national office, and legal counsel, with input from the programmers and producers of programs in question. It is preferable for Pacifica to sell or syndicate programs that are nationally produced, since there are less likely to be issues around the uses to which programming produced by volunteers may be put. Proceeds from the sale of Pacifica programming shall be allocated to support the continuing production and staffing of such programs, to support the stations that developed the original show and to support the development of national programming.
4.0 Commercial Programming: programming whose hosts are largely engaged in promoting products, services, seminars/concerts/events and personal advice that are for sale and from which they receive a consideration is commercial programming. Such programming is antithetical to the Pacifica mission.
5.0 New Voices: as community radio stations, Pacifica's local stations must conduct community needs assessments (per ascertainment functions found in FCC enabling legislation and in CPB Funding Guidelines), community outreach and engage in community-based "remote" broadcasts. Accordingly, local stations must provide training, via formal training programs, to existing and new volunteers in the Pacifica and local station missions and in on-air broadcast, production and journalism skills. Such programs shall ensure that "new voices" -- new voices include all ages, genders, languages, backgrounds and beliefs are heard on air and are involved in the local stations production and programming infrastructure.
Trainees should be routinely involved in the broadcast and streaming of the PNB and LSB meetings and the production of governance programming, Town Hall meetings, remote broadcasts and that stations explore disseminating listener-reporters within its communities.
6.0 Programming Resources: the PNB must set affirmative policies that ensure all local budgets include financing for adequate staffing levels for programming, production, news operations and technical staff; investment in and maintenance of technical and technological resources; staff training; and equipment. Resources must exist at all levels of the Pacifica organization to ensure a climate conducive to the production of mission-driven programming. All stations and the national office shall have access to production facilities that are professionally staffed and maintained in good working order.
Pacifica shall maintain a strategic plan that includes a component describing how technology shall be used to further its strategic goals and support the production of mission driven programming. For example, the use of digital technology would enable us to create space for training and developing/insurgent programming. We need to make a conscious decision if we are going to adopt this technological course or not and plan our resources accordingly. (We must array resources so that we have an effective human and technical infrastructure that supports mission-driven programming.)
7.0 The Role of the Affiliates in Extending the Pacifica Mission: Pacificaâ€™s commitment to mission is reflected by working with its affiliates to systematically expand its audience through affiliation and partnership with other community media networks and media advocacy organizations.
8.0 Program Evaluation: compliance with programming policy requires local stations to pursue a structured effort to ensure that program schedules and programming fulfills the mission; and to identify aspects of the mission that are absent or require improvement. Out of local evaluation processes, we hope that network wide approaches will emerge that help us establish conditions that produce programming that "sounds good" and that attracts the most talented programmers, producers and voices. Local stations must conduct community outreach by means of remote broadcasts and performing regular community needs assessment meetings in underserved communities. Community needs assessments may also take the form of live broadcasts of Town Hall Meetings.(Program Evaluation and Programmer self-evaluation processes should challenge programmers to explain how they fulfill the Pacifica mission and to detail various ways in which they strive to make their programs educational, informative and entertaining; we must have clear program goals and programs to provide services to our communities via the air waves.)
9.0 Using Research: Pacifica must develop the capacity to measure, analyze and interpret its relationships with its listeners and members through the use of quantitative, and qualitative, research methods. Each station's management should be trained to read, understand and use audience research properly. Because audience research is fundamentally a tool, those who donâ€™t understand its use tend to misuse it. All stations must have the ability to establish listener databases and all local station management must be able to use audience research to help them establish program schedules, set program goals, provide station services and develop listener support. Local station fundraising and development staff shall keep statistics on its new, renewing and loyal members so that the causal relationships between listening and giving and participation in other development activities can be established. (Station management must be able to use research to measure the parameters and potential of our audience and to identify and track the behavior of our audience in regard to programming, fundraising and station activities.)
10.0 Compliance with Federal Laws and Regulations: In order to protect our free speech rights, staff must be trained in what they are, how to exercise them, and how to protect them. If the Foundation must institute a schedule of penalties for noncompliance with FCC regulations, employees must be given regular and adequate training to enable them to avoid unwitting violations of vague and unclear regulatory language and enforcement practices. Similarly, they must be trained in avoiding episodes of obscenity or defamation, that may jeopardize our FCC licenses, or expose us to legal liabilities. (We should comply with applicable federal laws and regulations; station management and staff must constantly be reminded of what their compliance responsibilities require them to do or to monitor.)
11.0 Programming Calendar and Days-in-History: Pacifica should maintain an annual programming calendar that goes deeper into the body politic than federal holidays, national presidential elections and party conventions. The calendar should track national and international events, arts and cultural events, dialogues and trends that impact Pacificaâ€™s constituencies. Equally, in conjunction with the Pacifica Archives and with the leadership of an alternative historian on the order of Dr. Howard Zinn, Pacifica should produce a historical calendar involving leaders, events and movements in the national freedom struggles have that created a shared identity for all Pacificans. (This is an approach to maintaining a shared vision of our identity as Pacificans and to creating a process and a tool for reinforcing this through our programming.)
12.0 Implementing National Programming: Pacifica shall employ a Network Programming Coordinator whose responsibility is to implement Pacifica programming policy and support the production and distribution of mission-driven programming throughout the Pacifica family, including affiliate family members, FSRN and beyond. A central focus of the Coordinator's position is to help establish a constructive working relationship between governance and management at locally and nationally and to promote collaborative relationships between local station staff in ways that build a "network" synergy.
[i] Programming Definitions Note: The Programming Committee's more extensive definitions of the different types of programming is included as Attachment 1.