Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Perhaps the beleaguered Pacifica Foundation has reached a point of no return. 

Work on an antenna at the top of the Empire State Building
WBAI, Pacifica’s New York City flagship will have to come up with big bucks pronto if a judge rules in favor of the Empire State Building in a dispute over unpaid rent for the station’s transmitter site located at the top of the historic building.

On Friday, June 30th, the Empire State Building (ESB) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in New York State Supreme Court against WBAI/Pacifica. ESB demands the immediate payment of $2.1 million (plus legal fees) for over three years of missed rent payments. WBAI/Pacifica doesn’t appear to have the money and may be forced to sell some of its assets.

click to enlarge
Also on June 30th, WBAI began distributing the notice on the left to members and listeners to Save WBAI and Pacifica.  

The reasons they provide to Save Pacifica include service to oppressed communities, the impact of the 9/11 attacks and the fact the the owners of the ESB have received tax breaks from various government agencies. 

ESB’s Motion says all of these reasons are irrelevant and do not excuse Pacifica's breach of contract.

ESB’s 6/29/17 Motion paints a devastating picture of WBAI/Pacifica’s current situation:

• WBAI/Pacifica has breached the ESB tower site lease when they failed to pay the rent.

• WBAI/Pacifica falsely alleged that ESB agreed to accept a lower monthly rent while negotiating the debt.

• WBAI/Pacifica is trying to use it’s own dire financial circumstances as a reason to not pay the rent, even though [quoting from the Motion] “…[Pacifica] holds five separate FCC licenses whose values range… from the millions of dollars to tens of millions of dollars.”

As evidence of Pacifica’s ability to pay, the ESB Motion uses Pacifica's own words to make their case. Pacifica filed a Financial Stabilization Plan on March 31, 2017 with the California Attorney General in order to preserve its nonprofit tax status. In that report, Pacifica said, in part:

However, this shows the potential value of the WBAI radio license and demonstrates that, in a worst case scenario, can pull itself out. Pacifica has substantial assets but they are not reflected in the books.

In the Motion ESB says Pacifica/WBAI has no valid defense and asks the Court to rule that the entire debt should be paid now. The Court’s judgment could come any day.

According to posts on WBAI’s website [link], Pacifica has enlisted the support of Mayor de Blasio and other elected officials try to try save the ship.

De Blasio pleads in the letter ESB:

WBAI’s Station Manager Berthold Reimers also visited Albany to gather the support of New York State Senators in what they called an "existential fight." The Mayor and State Senators have no jurisdiction in the matter. 

1 comment:

  1. You mention "Pacifica has substantial assets but they are not reflected in the books." are you referring to the FCC license itself?