After we broke the news on Friday that KPCC was suspending its promotional mentions of Planned Parenthood on the air, the public radio station came in for some criticism on the left. The most pointed barbs were by Jon Wiener, the author and UC Irvine historian (plus KPFK commentator) who blogs for The Nation. The memo quotes KPCC program director Craig Curtis telling the staff to hold off on the spots while Planned Parenthood's status was in play in the Washington wrangling over the threatened government shutdown. "There is nothing wrong with the spots per se, or with our business relationship with Planned Parenthood," Curtis wrote. "But for a few days their presence on our air might raise questions in the mind of the 'reasonable listener' regarding our editorial and sales practices." From Wiener's weekend post:
A “reasonable listener” might now have questions about the journalistic integrity of the station...
Did KPCC pull the Planned Parenthood spots in response to a directive from the NPR network, or was this strictly a local initiative? Bill Gray, director of communications for Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media, KPCC’s parent company, says KPCC “runs their own show, so no direction from us or anyone else on this.”
Was the station responding to Republican pressure on KPCC to drop its Planned Parenthood spots? Or were they responding to something they imagined might happen? KPCC’s Curtis said there was no outside political pressure. He called the decision “a routine procedural one.” The routine, he said, is that when an underwriter becomes “the center sof a major news story…our standard practice is to ‘bump’ or suspend credits to avoid the appearance of any conflict.”
That seems to mean that the next time Republicans go after Planned Parenthood—or any other group—KPCC will do the same thing.
At the LA Weekly, blogger Dennis Romero had a different spin: "We've never even heard a Planned Parenthood spot on the station....Now we know, KPCC, that you essentially take money from Planned Parenthood in exchange for some airtime."
* KPCC statement: The station's weekend statement is after the jump.
Some of you have had concerns about the recent decision regarding Planned Parenthood. The following note is from our programming director, Craig Curtis.
The decision to temporarily suspend Planned Parenthood underwriting credits on KPCC was a routine procedural one. It was not about Planned Parenthood. It was about an underwriter that happened briefly to become the center of a major news story.
When that happens at KPCC, our standard practice is to "bump" credits to avoid the appearance of any conflict. This is a common policy at many news radio stations, and something that happens a few times each year at KPCC.
Ultimately the suspension affected only two scheduled credits for Planned Parenthood. All Planned Parenthood credits have now returned to their normal schedule and placement on our air and on the KPCC website.
KPCC Program Director