Below is the WORT-FM statement and letter to Pacifica Management regarding their “Rent Strike.”

From: WORT-FM Community Radio <>

WORT-FM Community Radio is currently running the following informational statement prior to Pacifica programming:

“The issue of the re-assignment of Pacifica Network News producer Dan Coughlin has not yet been resolved. Pacifica's Board met on November 12th, but no action was taken. WORT's Board of Directors met on November 18th and voted to undertake a ‘rent strike.’ All monies due Pacifica will be placed in an escrow account until Pacifica addresses WORT's concerns. At issue is the management of the satellite distribution system, and the apparent censorship implied in Dan Coughlin's reassignment. This censorship flies in the face of Pacifica's Mission Statement which calls for promoting freedom of the press and providing a forum for various viewpoints. We will continue to keep listeners informed of further developments. ”

The WORT Board sent the following letter to Pacifica's management and Board of Directors:

November 18, 1999

Ms. Lynn Chadwick, Executive Director
Dr. Mary Frances Berry, Chair
Pacifica Foundation
1929 Martin Luther King
Berkeley, CA 94704

Dear Ms. Chadwick and Dr. Berry:

We are writing to inform you that we will be withholding our quarterly payments to Pacifica for satellite programming service. We will be instead depositing the funds in an escrow account at the Associated Randall Bank in Madison, Wisconsin, until such time as Pacifica fulfills its obligations under our current contract.

Since the Ku satellite system was taken over by new staff in mid-July, and later relocated from Berkeley to Washington, DC, service has been frequently interrupted, unpredictably cut off and often simply not delivered (e-mail messages received just before, or significantly after, missed uplinks do not constitute ample notice of refeeds for programs that are time contingent).

In addition, since the re-assignment of Pacifica Network News producer Dan Coughlin for running a 37-second headline story on a national news event, we feel that we can no longer trust the primary product for which we have contracted, the Pacifica Evening News, to be as represented. We do not see how we can be assured that the Pacifica Network News is in fact an independent and unbiased news source when it appears that its content is subject to either prior censorship, or self-censorship due to fear of retribution. This censorship flies directly in the face of the third precept in the Pacifica Mission statement calling on the Foundation to “Promote freedom of the press and serve as a forum for various viewpoints.”

We are therefore undertaking a “rent strike” until these conditions are remedied. As you well know, the rent strike has a strong tradition in progressive movements throughout this century - from the New York tenant movements of 1904 and 1908, to the tenant farmer and depression-era urban tenant unions, through the tenants rights movements of the 1960s and 70s. In addition, this tactic is recognized by progressives across the globe from Leeds England in 1914, to Barcelona in 1931, to Guatemala City in the 1990s.

Please contact us in response to this letter so that we may establish together some mutually acceptable form of resolution in this matter.


Norman Stockwell, Operations Coordinator
Judy Seymour, President, WORT Board of Directors

cc: via e-mail to all members of the Pacifica Board of Directors

WORT-FM Listener-Sponsored Community Radio
118 S. Bedford St.
Madison, WI 53703
Phone (608)256-2001/2695
FAX (608)256-3704
e-mail <>
URL <>

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