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Green Delaware Action Alert #98

“WHYY pay more”-- Round 2

WHYY CEO paid $299,785 per year
Six “officers” paid total of $876,974 per year
 $27 million budget but little hard news about Delaware
 Station seeks $618,000 grant from Del. taxpayers
WHYY reception to lobby legislators, Dover June 5 at 4 PM

 “WHYY reinforces the dominance of the corporate community 
over the cultural and intellectual life of Delaware.”

Port Penn, DE.  May 29, 2001.  The success of anyone advocating anything depends a lot on her ability to “get the word out” to the people.  GreenDel Alert #94 (April 24, 2001) detailed problems with this supposedly-Wilmington-based “public broadcasting” TV station.  Testifying
before the Del. Joint Finance Committee, WHYY President and CEO Bill Marazzo made clear that WHYY focused on promoting “economic development.”  This is restated in the WHYY 2000 Annual Report: “WHYY is initiating conversations so that it can create programs and services ... that help initiate ... economic development initiatives.”

On the other hand, as Susan Collins of the Wilmington River City Committee wrote: “There is a paucity of coverage of local community news ... press releases addressing even mildly ‘controversial’ issues are largely ignored ... More and more WHYY panders to it’s ‘corporate friends’–as the station describes them on its website. ... Almost without exception WHYY’s regular commentators are drawn from the business community ... Surely, more diverse
views would benefit the community as a whole.”  The Philadelphia City Paper covered the story on May 17th (http://www.citypaper.net/articles/051701/news.media.whyy.shtml), quoting Alan
Muller as saying: "The intent of public broadcasting was to be something different ... WHYY is nothing different. … And for the taxpayers of Delaware to be giving money to a station that does nothing for them is ludicrous."

Green Delaware reviewed the “public file” WHYY maintains in Wilmington, but much of the info required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was missing.  It’s clear that the members of the Board of Directors and Community Advisory Board are almost all big business people or otherwise wealthy.  WHYY has few ties to community-based organizations and
independent advocacy groups.  Among CEO Marazzo’s “selected affiliations” are the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, an industry-influenced group.  In the year 2000, Marazzo was paid $299,785.  The total compensation of the six “officers” was $876,974.  Only one received less that $100,000.

According to the Annual Report, total revenue was $27,535,000, “Contributions” were 47%, “Government Funding was 13%, “Program Funding and Underwriting” was 34%, and “Other” was 6%.  The $618,000 sought by WHYY from Delaware taxpayers is by far the largest Delaware “grant in aid,” but isn’t designated for serving Delaware.  The staff of the Controller
General’s office, which handles the Grant in Aid applications, could offer no explanation other than “they’ve been receiving grants for some years.”

COMMENT: WHYY has some good programming, most of it originating outside the station.  Public concern focuses on the limited and slanted Delaware news coverage and commentary.  WHYY doesn’t offer meaningful alternatives to the straight commercial media,   Rather, it reinforces the dominance of the corporate community over our cultural and intellectual life.  Don’t we have enough media pushing the mantra of “economic development” without regard to
the consequences?  Don’t corporations and their lobbyists have enough influence already?  (WHYY spokesperson Marsha Corcoran told Green Delaware the station uses folks like Joe Farley (Conectiv) and John Taylor (News Journal Co.)  Not because they represent corporations but because they know so much about how Delaware works.....)  In a time of limited budgets, with state agencies being asked to reduce their funding requests, the grant in
aid request of WHYY should be rejected.  WHYY needs fundamental changes in the make-up of its self-perpetuating board, in its philosophy, its priorities, and most of all in its coverage of Delaware.  (PA taxpayers are also being asked for about a million.)

ACTION: Contact your Senator and Representative, and the members of the Joint Finance Committee.  Let them know you OPPOSE a grant to WHYY.  What should this money be spent on?  Here is one suggestion: President Bush has proposed “dramatic reductions” in funding for Federal enforcement, saying the states should do it, but the Minner Administration hasn’t  proposed increases in Delaware’s budget for enforcement.  The Joint Finance Committee:

Rep. Joseph DiPinto (Chair), 655-8749,<jdipinto@legis.state.de.us>
Rep.  Gerald Buckworth, 697-2033,       <gbuckworth@legis.state.de.us>
Rep.  David Ennis, 764-5829,    <dennis@legis.state.de.us>
Rep.  Tina Fallon, 629-8187,            <tfallon@legis.state.de.us>
Rep.  G.  Robert Quillen (Alt.), 398-8400, <bquillen@legis.state.de.us>
Rep.  Richard DiLiberto, 368-3432,      <rdiliberto@legis.state.de.us>
Rep.  William Houghton, 652-0234,
Rep.  Shirley Price (Alt.), 539-6738,   <shprice@legis.state.de.us>
Sen.  James Vaughn (Chair), 653-4703
Sen.  Nancy W.  Cook, 653-8725, <ncook@legis.state.de.us>
Sen.  David McBride, 322-6100,  <dmcbride@legis.state.de.us>
Sen.  Margaret R.  Henry, 425-4148,<mhenry@legis.state.de.us>
Sen.  Catherine Cloutier, 478-9616,     <cloutiercathy@aol.com>
Sen.  Dallas Winslow, 764-9728, <dwinslow@state.de.us>

Contact WHYY (302.888.1200, wmarrazzo@whyy.org) let them know you won’t contribute until they start covering independent voices as well as big business.

WHYY is having a reception “to honor Delaware’s 141st General Assembly” (ask them for money) on Thursday, June 5th at 4:00 PM or whenever the legislature ends that day’s session.  It’s in the Tatnall Building next to Leg Hall in Dover.  RSVP to Janis Lardner @ 302.888.1200.  Lets have a nice Green Delaware presence.

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or contact
Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731
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This page was last updated on  June 16, 2001.
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