« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Mr. HALE. I feel very grateful to Mr. Butler. I think his testimony has been most interesting and helpful.
Mr. BUTLER. Thank you, Mr. Hale.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Mr. Butler, I am greatly encouraged to have the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee come and say to a group of Republicans that you are in favor of the two-party system. That is very reassuring, and I heartily agree with you.
Mr. BUTLER. We particularly feel that way when we are on the outside trying to get in.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Mr. Butler, there is one particular provision of this bill which has been obliquely referred to, which troubles me very greatly, and which seems to me to open the door wide to preferential treatment on the part of a local broadcasting station. You have referred almost exclusively to national candidates. But this bill provides for any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office. Then it goes on to sayappearance by a legally qualified candidate on any news, news interview, news documentaryand so forthshall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection.
The thing I am pointing out is this. Here are a group of candidates, let us say, for Congress. Maybe there are a half dozen who under the terms of this bill would be legally qualified candidates. This would be especially true in a State where virtually one party is in control. Under the terms of this bill it seems to me and I want your comment on this—that a local broadcasting station could say, this is the man whom we think would be the best contribution to these public service programs, news interviews, news documentary, panel discussion, and pick out one man, and say that we will take him, or at most two, to the exclusion of the other people. This would put the individual chosen by that particular station clear out in front as far as his public appearances are concerned.
What is your comment on that situation?
Mr. BUTLER. That is exactly what I comment in my prepared testimony.
Mr. DOLLIVER. You did not read your statement.
Mr. BUTLER. No; I did not. That is the thing we are directing our attention to when we suggest that some provision be made here for equal time for the two major parties. In other words, say they pick out a Democrat and they give him the play on these news programs, and discussion programs and panel discussions, and news documentaries. Then they can promote the candidacy of one man. It seems to me that there should be some very simple language added here which would provide for the equal time for the two candidates of the major political parties.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Suppose there is a third candidate in there. For example, the Farmer-Labor Party, or some mythical party that we don't know about. Suppose he is in there. The radio or television station under this bill is under no obligation to use him on any interviews or anything of the kind and it leaves him out in the cold.
Mr. BUTLER. No, but I think Mr. Solant says they certainly would. Certainly if the political party is strong enough to have widespread public appeal, the reaction of the followers or supporters of that particular candidate will be great enough in time to get that station, if it is an individual station, to take care of him. But if they are the two major political parties, and they are given fairly equal time, I think there are not many districts in which a candidate of a third party would be involved.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Of course by the time the public opinion catches up with that station and the radio or television station is made conscious of the reaction, the election is over and the fellow is out.
The point I am trying to make and perhaps you don't agree with me—that this bill as it is written—perhaps you have some amendments to suggest in this respect-opens the door to preferential treatment not of Presidential candidates necessarily, but local candidates for a county office. Maybe there are a half dozen young lawyers that want to be prosecuting attorney. The television station under this bill can put one candidate on there, and use him on their news adcasters, on their panel discussions to the exclusion of every other candidate and give him lots of free time, and the others have to pay for it. I don't believe it is the right kind of legislation to protect the interests of the American people in that respect. Mr. BUTLER. I agree with you that it does open the door. I think
. the door should be closed by some appropriate amendment.
I would like to point out, if I may—and I think this is the fact, although I have not made any careful check—that the first section of 315 as it appears on page i, including the first line and the first word of the second line on page 2, is the exact language of the law as it now exists.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Yes.
Mr. BUTLER. The amendment being merely with reference to the appearance of this kind of candidate not being considered to be the use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of the foregoing language.
Mr. DOLLIVER. It is the amendment I am raising a question about. I merely call your attention to that to point up a situation which I think is inherent in this bill and needs some protection if the legislation is considered.
Mr. BUTLER. I would like to add this one thing. I am frank to say to you that there are many problems connected with opening this up beyond presidential candidates. I do hope some means may be found to support the bill in such form as to provide and permit the presidential campagin debate series in the fall campaign.
Mr. DOLLIVER. One other question that might point up another problem in connection with political campaigns. Do you think it would be of any advantage to the general information of the public in respect to political campaigns if the stations, television and radio, were authorized to charge a lower rate for political broadcasts than they do for commercial broadcasts?
Nr. BUTLER. I think it would be very helpful; yes.
Mr. BUTLER. Yes; I am inclined to think I would, provided, however, of course, that the networks would have a fair revenue for the facilities and the personnel that they have to provide in order to communicate to the public the views of a given candidate.
Mr. DOLIVER. Further, it should be without discrimination as among candidates.
Mr. BUTLER. Yes; certainly.
Mr. DOLIVER. That is, you should not give one candidate a better rate than another candidate.
Mr. BUTLER. There should be no preference to any candidate or any party.
Mr. FLYNT. Would you yield?
Mr. Flynt. Mr. Butler, I would like to say that I share the apprehension expressed by Mr. Dolliver when it absolutely opens the door to a network or a station or perhaps to the Federal Communications itself to supplant the law in that it will permit that particular Commission or network or station management to rule based on what they think the law ought to be, rather than what the law is. I know you share this apprehension with Mr. Dolliver and myself as lawyers. Whenever we have language in a statute which is so vague and ambiguous that it cannot be construed with reasonable certainty, then it is opening up the door to a government by men rather than a constitutional government of laws. I think that is what Mr. Dolliver and I both want to avoid.
Mr. BUTLER. You are referring to an evasive piece of ambiguity, such as referred to by my friend, Congressman Heselton of Massachusetts
Mr. DOLLIVER. I think that is all.
Mr. WILLIAMS. In 1948, in the State of Alabama, the regular Democratic organization of the State selected as its candidate for President the candidate of the States Rights Party. The candidates of the National Democratic Party, by State law, were not permitted on the ballot, and there was no provision for a writein. Under those circumstances, under your suggestion, the radio stations in the State of Alabama would be under no obligation whatsoever to carry any programs of the national Democratic candidates because they were not candidates in Alabama!
Mr. BUTLER. No, I would say that the Alabama stations certainly would not be controlled by local law. They would be controlled by Federal law and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.
Mr. WILLIAMS. How could the candidates be considered candidates when they were not even on the ballot, and there was no way to get them on the ballot?
Mr. BUTLER. I don't know how you would handle that situation. Frankly, this situation that developed in 1948 confused and confounded most of us Democrats in the country, Congressman. I don't know how you would do it. Certainly there would be no vis-a-vis restriction on the local stations for carrying it just because the Democratic party nationally had candidates and the Democratic Party of Alabama had some other candidates.
Mr. WILLIAMS. Under your suggested amendments, would it be incumbent upon these stations to give time to the candidates of the national Democratic Party when they could not even get on the ticket?
Mr. BUTLER. No individual station is required to carry the program of any network except by contract.
Mr. WILLIAMS. To give equal time to those candidates when they were not even on the ticket?
Mr. BUTLER. I would say that would be a matter for decision by the local stations.
Mr. WILLIAMS. I don't know that we will have a situation like that to arise again, of course.
Mr. BUTLER. These networks or stations will not give away a lot of free time. They are in business to make money. They will not give away a great amount of time. I don't think we have to worry too much about giving away too much free time to any candidate. I think this is principally directed to the presidential campaign. I think our effort should be, if we can possibly bring about the passage of this bill, to make it possible for all the voters in the country to let them see the major candidates, whether it is 2 or 3 or 4 parties, whatever would represent the major parties.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Hinshaw.
Mr. HINSHAW. I wonder if Mr. Butler would not agree with me that the language on page 2 which has been mentioned before, exempting:
Appearance by a legally qualified candidate on any news, news interview, news documentary, panel discussion, debate, or similar type program where the format and production of the program and the participants therein are determined by the broadcasting station, or by the network in the case of a network program, shall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection.
I understand the term "use” is referred to as free use of a broadcasting station. Mr. HARRIS. The section applies to free time. Mr. BUTLER. It goes back to the word "use” on page 1, in line 7. Mr. HINSHAW. I understand it is free time we are talking about. Mr. BUTLER. This contemplates free time.
Mr. HINSHAW. Would that sentence not give station or the network a very great opportunity to place candidates on news or news interviews or news documentaries, and so forth, to the exclusion of the other candidates, and allow them to be very partial in their selection of candidates to place on the station or the network?
Mr. BUTLER. Yes. That was the first point I made. I thought there should be some limitation or restriction so that there should be equal time either in news programs, news interviews, news documentaries, or panel discussions or debates or other such programs among the candidates of at least the two major parties, and any other major parties that might qualify.
Mr. HINSHAW. It seems so to me. I might state also that the first time I ran for this office, which was 18 years ago, I had a nominee against me, who was a radio cowboy from Texas. He used his hour that he had, advertising the Star Outfitting Co. or some such thing, in berating me. Of course, I am glad he mentioned my name and pronounced it correctly, but on the other hand, I didn't see where under the Federal Communications Act, or otherwise, I had any suit against him for using paid time by a merchandising company to excoriate me.
On the other hand, that can be done, as I understand, under the law. That is, the XYZ Department Store can hire time and use that time pretty much for the purpose of promoting or excoriating å candidate, if they want to.
Mr. BUTLER. It is bad business, though.
Mr. HINSHAW. It proved bad business in the case of the person who was opposing me. I don't know whether it would always prove so. On the other hand, that can be done, can it not?
Mr. BUTLER. Yes, it certainly can be. Of course, that was paid time. Mr. HINSHAW. That was paid time.
Mr. HARRIS. That was paid time, but under the law, when they do that, they have to give the opposing candidate free time, even though it was paid. If you had gone and asked for it, you could have gotten it.
Mr. BUTLER. I don't understand that.
Mr. HINSHAW. I don't understand that, and I don't think it was the case, because it was paid time, not for the purpose of excoriating me, but advertising products.
Mr. Rogers. If the gentleman will yield, we brought the matter up before the Commission when the Chairman was here and asked him the question, and he misstated the law, and counsel came forward and corrected it. It is contained in this pamphlet they gave us.
Mr. HINSHAW. I am glad that the matter is settled.
Mr. ROGERS. On the panel discussions where we will say the ABC Packing Co. has a program, and under a panel discussion they put Mr. Flynt and Mr. Hinshaw on that panel discussion. If they have opposition, and they are qualified candidates, the station, regardless of who paid for this time to sponsor this panel, has to give the opponents of these two gentlemen equal time on the air to talk about anything they want to.
Mr. BUTLER. Suppose I am selling automobiles, and I give this Texas cowboy the opportunity to talk against Mr. Hinshaw. Does Mr. Hinshaw have a right to come in and have 30 minutes ?
Mr. ROGERS. Here is a personal example. I was at the fairgrounds in my district, and was stopped and asked to comment. It was one of these programs where they were carrying the television stand around the fairgrounds. I didn't resist, it being an election year, and I made some remarks on there, and they asked me some questions. I gladly answered them and bid them goodbye, and they got somebody else. The next thing I knew, my opponent demanded the same amount of time or so I was told, and got it. Mr. Harris. I was going to ask 1 or 2 questions. I am sorry to
. keep you here so long.
Mr. BUTLER. That is all right. I find it very interesting and stimulating. I am learning some things.
Mr. HARRIS. ' I was going to ask you about this, too. In this Federal Communications Commission public notice that was put out on September 8, 1954, use of broadcast facilities by candidates for public office you have one—will you turn to page 3, question 28:
If a station broadcasts a program sponsored by a commercial advertiser which includes one or more qualified candidates as speakers or guests, what are its obligations with respect to affording equal opportunities to other candidates for the same office?
Answer: If candidates are permitted to appear without cost to themselves on programs sponsored by commercial advertisers, opposing candidates are entitled to receive comparable time also at no cost.