One comment on “Regarding Clear Channel

  1. Landlord dangers from Clear Channel

    The current station management has not denied Clear Channel’s long track record as a multi-billion-dollar media conglomerate with an aggressively reactionary history. John Hughes and his co-thinkers have argued, however, that Clear Channel can do the station no harm in its sole capacity as our new landlord. In fact, a move to Clear Channel could place the very ability of the station to function in jeopardy.

    Internet access/station connectivity would definitely be controlled by Clear Channel. Yves Point-du-Jour has pointed out that Clear Channel could not only deny access to the T-1 line that would go through their server but very possibly Clear Channel could also collect information about what we send over the T-1.

    A back-up transmitter would definitely be controlled by Clear Channel. As Bob Daughtry asked on the March 29 Super-Funky Soul Power Hour, what is to prevent Clear Channel from charging such exorbitant rates for back-up service that WPFW has trouble paying up or has to delay on rent payments (see below on those consequences)?

    The lease mandates that WPFW pay 22% of the property taxes on the space. We don’t know how high the property value could go. The Clear Channel site is in a relatively new office building complex right across the street from the Silver Spring Metro Station, a major metropolitan area transportation hub. Moreover, Silver Spring has been “revitalizing” its downtown area a few blocks away into a business/cultural magnet for the metropolitan region.

    Use of landlord rights to destroy the station is possible:

    While we have not seen the sublease nor are we familiar with specific Montgomery County, MD landlord-tenant rights, the very fact that we cannot answer all of the questions below is cause for alarm, as listener/supporter and CMS member Craig Williams has written:

    Why would Clear Channel want to sublease space to WPFW given that we are diametrically opposed when it comes to world view and political positions?
    Hint: it is not because Clear Channel believes that every point of view should be heard and that they have a moral obligation to ensure freedom of speech.

    Why would Clear Channel want to lease space to us below its market value when it should be very attractive to market rate tenants?
    Hint: it is not because they do not think they can find other tenants or cannot afford the carry (the loss of rent and any utility, etc., costs for unoccupied space) until they do so.

    Why would Clear Channel want to sublease to us when they are well aware of Pacifica’s and probably aware of WPFW’s financial situations?
    Hint: maybe they know we might default (in fact, maybe they are hoping we will default).

    If we do default, what might be possible depending on Montgomery County and State of Maryland laws, and the degree of the default (time in default and amount of money owed)? Note that anything that causes the station to go dark without prior authorization from the FCC risks the broadcast license, our only market-valuable asset.

    • Can they lock the doors and/or cut the power?
    • Can they legally eliminate access to the T-1 line that goes through their server?
    • How quickly can they evict us?
    • Can Clear Channel attempt to take the license to settle any debts we may owe them in a default?

    Now the left-hand end of the dial is reserved for non-profits with an educational purpose, which Clear Channel is not. However, how hard could it be for Clear Channel to set up a non-profit foundation to educate us all on how evolution is just a theory and that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun?

    At one of the public CMS meetings, someone said that nobody owns the non-profit educational licenses; they just hold them in the public trust, or something to that effect. If so, that would be the greatest protection as it implies they cannot simply be sold or used to settle a claim. Let’s hope that is correct.

    Clear Channel could illegally challenge the station’s ability to function. Internet access could “become” hit-or-miss, frivolous claims of misuse of space or other tenant violations could be filed, Internet communication with donors, program guests, etc. could be tampered with, equipment could be damaged at night by those with office keys, etc. In general, WPFW ‘s programming and fund drives could be sabotaged and its resources strained by constant petty or not-so-petty fighting in landlord-tenant court. Very deep-pocketed Clear Channel could endlessly pay fines when/if it is found in violation.


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