« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the exactly correct legislative solutions. With the prenomination period upon us, and the political season begun, however, it seems to us imperative promtply to take some steps to relieve the situation. . Since I was last here, we got some reminder of how acute the problems arising out of section 315 really can be. We have had requests from one Lar (America First) Day, who campaigns in an Uncle Sam suit and who says that he is entitled to equal time to answer President Eisenhower because he, too, wants to be the Republican nominee for President. The FCC, incidentally—and fortunately for us-ruled that Daly had not established the bona fides of his candidacy, but I am not sure we have heard the last of Mr. Daly. We have also had demands for equal time from one Frank A. Barnes, of Illinois, about whom we have had no information other than that he, along with Senator Kefauver and Governor Stevenson, would like the Democratic nomination for President. We have had a demand from the Socialist Labor Party announcing that it will hold its convention next month and that it is entitled to time for the broadcast of the acceptance speech of its presidential nominee equal to whatever time we give to the acceptance speeches of the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.
So it seems to us even more clear today than it was when I was last here that some action must be taken to amend section 315. We think that there should be a comprehensive amendment, as we indicated in our support of H. R. 6810. But if the time is now too short to wait for the more basic reforms, at least some steps toward relief should be taken now.
H. R. 10217, to some degree, and H. R. 10529, to a greater degree, do represent steps in the right direction. I should like as briefly as possible to analyze what these two bills do and what they do not do, and to touch on some of these problems which are left open by them.
H. R. 10217 is a quite limited amendment to section 315. It leaves exactly as it is today the existing law governing the use of broadcast facilities by all legally qualified candidates for public offices except insofar as candidates for the offices of President or Vice President are concerned.
For such candidates H. R. 10217 would apply the equal-time requirements only if (1) they are the nominees of a party whose presidential candidate polled 4 percent of the vote at the preceding presidential election, or (2) if their candidacy is supported by petitions with signatures numbering at least 1 percent of that vote.
Thus H. R. 10217 takes one highly useful step forward : It relieves the broadcaster of the requirement to grant equal time to presidential and vice presidential candidates of fringe parties and you will recall that in 1952 there were 18 parties with candidates for the Presidency.
There seems to be some disagreement concerning the reach of H. R. 10217 on a very vital point—whether it applies not only to the nominees for the Presidency and Vice Presidency but also to candidates for the nomination.
In its comments on the bill the FCC took the position that H. R. 10217 does not apply to candidates for the nomination, We believe that this is a dubious construction. For H. R. 10217 expressly applies to “a legally qualified candidate for the office" of President or Vice President. The words "a legally qualified candidate for any office” are used in the existing section 315; those words have been consistently interpreted by the FCC to include not only nominees but also candidates for nomination. This was the FCC's holding in the Schneider case in 1952. While subsection (1) of section 315 (a) of H. R. 10217 clearly applies only to actual nominees, the subsection is in the disjunctive with subsection (2). And subsection (2) dealing with a petition supported candidacy (as distinguished from a “nominee"), can apply equally as well to a candidate for nomination as to an actual nominee.
In determining whether H. R. 10217 provides relief in the case of candidates for the presidential nomination, as well as in the case of actual nominees, we think it significant that Senator Lyndon Johnson, who introduced S. 3308, title III of which is identical to H. R. 10217, stated that, if enacted, title III would preclude the necessity of granting such requests as that of Lar Daly (Congressional Record, Mar. 12, 1956, p. 3999). Senator Johnson said: “I point out, Mr. President, that only this week the candidate of the America First Party, in the Midwest, asked the networks to grant time equal to the amount given to the President of the United States. I think this bill will cure such a defect." [Italic supplied.] As I have noted, the Lar Daly case came up as a demand for equal time by a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. When Senator Johnson stated that title III of S. 3308 would take care of that situation it seems clear that he must have assumed that it applied not only to nominees but also to candidates for nomination. Otherwise title III, and hence H. R. 10217, would not affect the Lar Daly request at all.
Particularly if, as we believe, H. R. 10217 does provide relief insofar as candidates for presidential and vice presidential nomination are concerned, the bill represents an improvement over the present section 315. We have, however, some fairly substantial reservations concerning H. R. 10217.
First, it will be recalled that H. R. 6810 would amend section 315 only in respect of particular types of programs-news, news interview, news documentary, panel discussion, or debate programs where the format and production of the program and the participants are determined by the broadcasting station. CBS continues to believe that that approach is the more desirable.
H. R. 10217 has no such limitation as to type of program; it exempts the broadcaster from the free-time requirements even where there is involved only a set speech by the candidate and even where it is a program whose production and format is wholly in his control. We believe that if equal-time requirements are to be preserved at all, it is more desirable that when time is given to candidates to use however they please, the equal-time requirements should apply to all competing candidates for the same office.
We believe, therefore, that H. R. 10217 should be limited to the types of programs specified in H. R. 6810.
Second, if H. R. 10217 does not apply to candidates for presidential and vice pr ential nomination, we think there is a serious gap. For it is the candidates for nomination that give broadcasters so much trouble; the number of unknown fringe candidates who would like the Republican or Democratic nomination for the Presidency is legion. We think that relief during the prenomination period is very important so that there is no open season for obscure individuals who have no general support whatever.
Even if H. R. 10217 does apply so as to provide some measure of relief for candidates for nomination, we do not believe that its approach is entirely sound. For the bill requires candidates for nomination in order to qualify for equal time, to submit petitions with a great number of signatures. I must confess that we at CBS would find it embarrassing to demand of President Eisenhower, Governor Stevenson, or Senator Kefauver that they present us with such petitions before we allow them to use our facilities. Yet, H. R. 10217 may well be interpreted to mean that if we waived the requirement of petition for such eminent public figures, we would then lose protection altogether and would be forced to allow every other candidate for the party's presidential nomination to get equal time without presenting petitions. For H. R. 10217 may be interpreted to forbid a broadcaster from demanding that some candidates present petitions when their opponents are not required to do so.
Thus we believe that while H. R. 10217 is a step forward, it presents some new problems and leaves untouched a number of old ones.
H. R. 10529, on the other hand, goes further in solving some-but not allof these problems.
H. R. 10529 proposes to leave section 315 (a) precisely as it is now, but would add new subsections (b) and (c). The new subsection (b) is in two parts: (1) and (2).
Subsection (b) (1) deals only with nominees for President and Vice President; insofar as these nominees are concerned, H. R. 10529 is substantially identical to H. R. 10217. Subsection (b) (2) however, represents an important improvement. It explicitly applies to candidates for the presidential and vice presidential nomination. First, it imposes equal-time requirements to candidates for the presidential or vice presidential nomination only if the nomination is by a major political party (that is, a party whose candidate for the office in the preceding presidential election was supported by at least 4 percent of the total popular votes). Second, subsection (b) (2) provides that the candidate for such nomination by a major political party is not entitled to the benefits of the equal-time requirements unless (a) he is the incumbent of any elective Federal or statewide elective office of any State or (b) has been nominated for President or Vice President at any prior convention of his party, or (c) is supported by petitions, including at least 200,000 valid signatures.
Thus, subsection (h) (2) of H. R. 10529 would not require broadcasters to give equal time to unknown and unsubstantial candidates for the Democratic or Republican presidential nomination. It is designed, we assume, to take care of the Dalys, the Schneiders, and the Barnes. CBS supports such an approach, although as I will note, we have some suggestions for still further improvement.
The new subsection (c) of H. R. 10529 also embodies an important advance beyond H. R. 10217. In contrast to H. R. 10217, subsection (c) of H. R. 10529 would provide some relief from the equal time requirements insofar as con
gressional candidates are concerned. The new subsection (c) proposed by H. R. 10529 in effect applies the equal time requirements only to major party nominees for congressional office as well as to candidates who may not be nominees of a major political party but who file petitions with a number of signatures equal to 1 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates for the office involved in the preceding general congressional election. Subsection (c), therefore, is an attempt to provide the broadcaster some relief from fringe party and unsubstantial candidates for congressional office.
It is to be noted that subsection (c) of H. R. 10529, however, unlike subsection (b), leaves the equal time requirements where they are now insofar as candidates for congressional nomination are concerned. The relief provided by subsection (c) of H. R. 10529 applies only to congressional nominees, and not to candidates for nomination. The precise reason for this distinction between subsection (b) and subsection (c) of H. R. 10529 is not immediately apparent to us, but I might say in all candor that so far as network broadcasting is concerned the matter is not of major significance. It may be of considerable importance, however, to individual stations, especially where there are important campaigns for nomination for a congressional office. For example, I recall that a few years back, there were 8 or 10 candidates in Florida for the Democratic nomination for the Senate; some of these candidates were clearly unsubstantial.
In any event, H. R. 10529, like H. R. 10217, applies its equal time requirements to set speeches and broadcasts wholly within the control of the candidate or his supporters. Thus, it departs from the more desirable approach of H. R. 6810, just as H. R. 10217 does.
Despite some of the difficulties and some of the gaps in them which I have noted, CBS believes that both H. R. 10217 and H. R. 10529 represent improvements over the existing law. Because H. R. 10529 goes further in providing relief, CBS prefers H. R. 10529.
As I have indicated, however, problems still remain under either bill. As noted, we would prefer that the exemptions be limited to the types of programs which were specified in H. R. 6810, although it may be well also to include acceptance speeches of major party nominees in the types of programs listed in H. R. 6810.
Further, we think that it would be desirable to include an exemption for spokesmen duly designated by a qualified candidate for the office of President. We think such an addition would be desirable on the basis of our experience in the 1952 campaign period when the CBS radio and television networks broadcast a series of debate and discussion programs dealing with the major campaign issues. Equal time was afforded in these series to the Republican and Democratic viewpoints, but we found that although often a logical spokesman for the Republican or Democratic point of view was a Congressman, Senator or governor, yet no Congressman (unless he was retiring) was eligible to participate in these series and one-third of the Senators and governors were also ineligible, because they were running for reelection. Since they were candidates in their own right, if we put them on a national program to discuss major national issues on behalf of the Republican and Democratic Parties, we would have been obliged to give equal time to the local opponents of these spokesmen. This would have effectively destroyed the series and could have involved an enormous quantity of network free time. Hence we were forced to avoid such spokesmen even though the Republican or Democratic Parties would have liked to have had them on and even though they were eminently qualified to discuss the particular issues involved.
We also believe that the provisions of subsection (b) (2) of H. R. 10529, defining who among presidential candidates for nomination are eligible under the equal-time requirements, are somewhat inflexible. Had these provisions been in effect in prior campaign years, we would have had to demand petitions with 200,000 signatures before General Eisenhower, Wendell Willkie, or Herbert Hoover (in 1928) could have qualified for a broadcast appearance as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. For none was an incumbent of any elective Federal or statewide elective office and none had been nominated for President at any prior convention. We think, the way to avoid embarrassing problems such as this is to allow the broadcaster some limited discretion in determining who is and who is not a substantial candidate for the presidential nomination of a major party. This can be done in terms of defining who can be presumed to be a substantial candidate by using the three tests specified in subsection (b) (2) of H. R. 10529, but allowing broadcasters to go beyond that so as to take care of such situations as those which were presented by Mr. Hoover in 1928, Mr. Willkie, and General Eisenhower.
In order to assist this subcommittee, we have prepared a redraft of an amendment to section 315. It embodies the suggestions which I have just made, and I would like permission to submit it for the record.
CBS urges that H. R. 10217 and H. R. 10529 be amended as suggested in this redraft. Failing that, CBS supports the enactment of H. R. 10529; and failing that, in turn, CBS believes that H. R. 10217 should be enacted, provided that at a later time a more comprehensive solution along the lines of our attached suggestions be considered.
Finally, I should state that if H. R. 10217, H. R. 10529, or our suggested revision is enacted in time for the present campaign, CBS proposes to offer free time, perhaps 2 hours, for the major party candidates for the Presidency to divide between them for some form of debate or discussion of the central issues during the campaign. We have already tentatively set aside class A nighttime periods for that purpose.
I hope that legislation will be enacted which permits us to make that use of those time periods.
REDRAFT OF AN AMENDMENT TO SECTION 315
SEC. 301. Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U. S. C. 315) is amended to read as follows:
“Sec. 315 (a) If any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station.
“(b) Subsection 315 (a) shall not apply to any use of a broadcasting station by any legally qualified candidate for the offices of President or Vice President of the United States, or to any spokesman duly designated by such candidate for the office of President, if such use is an acceptance speech by such candidate at a nominating convention or is on a news, news interview, news documentary, panel discussion or debate program where the format and production of the program and the participants therein are determined by the broadcasting station or the network in the case of a network program: Provided, That the licensee shall afford equal opportunity in the same use of such broadcasting station to every other candidate for the office of President, or Vice President, as the case may be
“(1) who, if a candidate for election as President or Vice President, is (i) the nominee of a political party whose candidate for such office in the preceding presidential election was supported by not fewer than 4 per centum of the total votes cast, or (ii) whose candidacy is supported by petitions filed under the laws of the several States which in the aggregate bear a number of signatures equal to at least 1 per centum of the total popular votes cast in the preceding election and which signatures are valid under the laws of the States in which they are filed; or
“(2) who is a substantial candidate for Presidential or Vice Presidential nomination by a political party whose candidate for such office in the preceding presidential election was supported by not fewer than 4 per centum of the total popular votes cast.
“(3) For the purposes of subsection (b) (2) of this Section 315, a candidate for Presidential or Vice Presidential nomination shall be presumed to be a 'substantial candidate' if
“(i) he is an incumbent of any elective Federal or statewide elective office; or
“(ii) he has been nominated for President or Vice President at any prior convention of his party; or
“(iii) his candidacy is supported by petitions filed under the laws of the several States which in the aggregate bear at least 200,000 signatures which are valid under the laws of the States in which they are
filed. "(c) Subsection 315 (a) shall not apply to the use of a broadcasting station by any legally qualified candidate for congressional office if such use is on a news, news interview, news documentary, panel discussion, or debate program where the format and production of the program and the participants therein are determined by the broadcasting station or the network in the case of a network program: Provided, That the licensee shall afford equal opportunity in the
same use of such broadcasting station to every other candidate for the same congressional office
“(1) who if a candidate for election to congressional office, is (i) the nominee of a political party whose candidate for the congressional office sought by the legally qualified candidate received in the preceding general congressional election not less than 4 per centum of the total votes cast for all candidates for that office in such election, or (ii) whose candidacy is supported by petitions filed under pplicable State law which in the aggregate bear a number of signatures, valid for the laws of the State, equal to at least 1 per centum of the total votes cast for all candidates for that office in the preceding general congressional election; or
“(2) who is a substantial candidate for nomination for the congressional office by a political party whose candidate for such office in the preceding Presidential election was supported by not less than 4 per centum of the total votes cast for all candidates for that office in such election.
“(3) For the purposes of subsection (b) (2) of this section 315, a candidate for the nomination for congressional office shall be presumed to be a *substantial candidate' if
“(i) he is an incumbent of any elective Federal or State elective office; or
' (ii) he has been nominated by his party as a candidate for the same office; or
“(iii) his candidacy is supported by petitions filed under applicable State law which in the aggregate bear a number of signatures, valid under the laws of the State, equal to at least 1 per centum of the total votes cast for all candidates for that oifice in the preceding general con
gressional election. For the purpose of this subsection, the term 'congressional candidate' means a candidate for election as a Senator or Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress of the United States.
“(d) No licensee shall have any power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provisions of subsection (a), subsection (b), or subsection (c). No obligation is hereby imposed upon any licensee to allow the use of its station by any such candidate.
“(e) The charges made for the use of any broadcasting station for any of the purposes set forth in this section shall not exceed the charges made for comparable use of such station for other purposes. "(f) The Commission shall
“(1) prescribe appropriate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section; and
“(2) determine, and upon request of any licensee notify such licensee concerning, the eligibility of any candidate to receive equal opportunity under subsection (b) or (c) in the use of any broadcasting station.” Mr. SALANT. I will state very briefly that our position is that while we prefer the approach of H. R. 6810, H. R. 10217 is a step forward and we support that as well. We would prefer between H. R. 10217 and H. R. 10529, H. R. 10529. Now, we have submitted a compromise between the three bills which is attached to this statement which I would like permission to enter into the record.
Mr. HARRIS. Which one is H. R. 10529?
Mr. SALANT. The bill submitted by Mr. Priest. We think that is the preferable one. It goes somewhat further and I think handles the problems arising under section 315 a little more comprehensively.
Mr. HARRIS. In order that the record may speak precisely what you have in mind, you prefer H. R. 6810 because it goes much further than any other proposal.
Mr. SALANT. In some respects, and not as far in others.
Mr. HARRIS. And if you cannot get all of what you want, you want to get as much of it as you can.
Mr. SALANT. That is exactly right and that is why I can sum up my position in 60 seconds.