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Mr. HARRIS. Well, I think that is a very appropriate position to take. I think we understand perfectly well what you have in mind. But I did want to find out this since you are here. H. R. 10217 is identical with the provision that has been worked out in what is referred to as the Johnson-Knowland bill on the other side of the Capitol, and you are favorable to H. R. 10217 ?
Mr. SALANT. We think it is one step forward.
Mr. HARRIS. Now I do not know whether you are familiar with this amendment or not. There is a proposal over there already agreed to, as I understand it, that an amendment is to be offered to S. 636 in the nature of a substitute for the entire bill. Are you familiar with that?
Mr. SALANT. Yes, sir.
Mr. HARRIS. Now, in this newest proposal over there they would broaden the provisions to include major candidates for nomination, spokesmen for candidates, and nominees.
I just wondered if you had an opportunity to consider a provision of that kind.
Mr. SALANT. From your description I suspect that it is substantially similar to Mr. Priest's bill.
Mr. HARRIS. No. Mr. Priest's bill would go further and include all congressional candidates. This limits it to presidential and vice presidential nominees and candidates for nomination, and their spokesmen.
Mr. SALANT. That is right. I am familiar with that, and you will note that in the proposed redraft that I have attached to my statement I have included “spokesmen," and we are in favor of that.
Mr. HARRIS. That would answer the question.
Mr. SALANT. We are also in favor of including it as is done in that bill. It is an amendment to S. 636. Our proposal includes as this does the broadening to candidates for presidential nomination. We favor that.
Mr. HARRIS. Now, the first bill which I introduced would include everybody.
Mr. SALANT. That is right.
Mr. HARRIS. From the justice of the peace up or down, and I do not know which way you would say, to the Presidency. Now, the bill which we are considering here and contemplating to be amended would only refer to candidates for President and Vice President of the United States, and candidates for nomination for President and Vice President of the United States and their spokesmen. The bill that Mr. Priest proposed would refer to congressional candidates, as I understand.
Mr. SALANT. With one exception, sir, it does not change the law so far as candidates for nominations for congressional offices are concerned. It is just nominees, but not candidates for nomination.
Mr. HARRIS. You mean the Priest proposal?
Mr. HARRIS. As between the three proposals you, of course, would take the first one, and then, in other words, you want to get all you can get out of it.
Mr. SALANT. We prefer H. R. 6810 first, and second, the amendment that we have just submitted, and third the Priest bill, and fourth H. R. 10217.
Mr. HARRIS. I am going to hand you this draft bill that I have not introduced because we get so many bills introduced around here every
body wants to come back and testify on the same subject again. I am going to hand you a copy of this proposed revised language which is being considered over in the Senate side and I wish that you would take it and look it over and give to our committee clerk or to the staff here any memorandum or statement that you care to make on it.
Mr. SALANT. I appreciate that opportunity,
COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM, INC.,
New York, N. Y., April 26, 1956. Hon. OREN HARRIS, Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation and Communications, House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee,
New House Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. HARRIS : During my appearance before your subcommittee last. Thursday, April 19, you invited CBS to submit additional comments on a revised version of title III to S. 636. We appreciate the opportunity to do so.
The revised title III, which I understand has not yet been introduced, is, with. two exceptions which I shall note, identical to H. R. 10529, which was introduced by Congressman Priest on April 16, 1956. The two exceptions are (1) that the amendment to S. 636 does not include subsection (c) of the Priest bill,. relating to congressional elections, and (2) that the amendment to S. 636 includes in its section 315 (b) a provision relating to “any spokesman designated" by a legally qualified candidate for the office of President or Vice President.
In my statement which I submitted to your committee on April 19, I commented on both these matters. At pages 8 and 9 of my statement, I commented on subsection (c) of the Priest bill referring to congressional candidates. Similarly, at pages 9 and 10, I suggested that it would be desirable to include in subsection (b) an exemption for spokesmen duly designated as candidates for office of President or Vice President. I understand that this further exem is not designed to change existing law, which has been ruled by the courts not in any event to apply to spokesmen except where such spokesmen are themselves. candidates for public office.
Under existing law, where a spokesman for President is a Congressman, Senator, or Governor seeking reelection, it would be necessary to provide equal time for the local opponents of such a spokesman, even though he is speaking on behalf of, and is designated by, a presidential candidate. As I noted in my statement of April 19, this placed a severe and unfortunate restriction upon several series of debate and discussion programs relating to the national campaign which were broadcast by CBS in 1952. We understand that the proposed inclusion of spokesmen is designed only to remedy this situation and hence we think it represents a significant improvement.
Perhaps I can best sum up our position on the various proposals in this way: At the hearings on April 19, I listed the various bills and proposals in the order in which CBS prefers them. I would like to revise this order of preference so as to include the proposed amendment to S. 636 and the order then becomes as follows: Our first preference is for H. R. 6810. Our second preference is the compromise between H. R. 6810 and the Priest bill, a draft of which I submitted as an attachment to my statement on April 19. Our third preference is for the proposed amendment to S. 636. Our fourth preference is for H. R. 10529, the Priest bill. Our fifth preference is for H. R. 10217.
As I stated, however, at the April 19 hearing, while in the order just listed, each of the bills is a significant improvement over the other, all of them mark a: useful step forward from the existing law and hence, although we have varying: degrees of preference, we do not oppose any of them. Yours sincerely,
RICHARD S. SALANT. Mr. HARRIS. We were very glad to have you back before the comunittee. Thank you very much.
(Mr. Hale submitted the following letter for the record :)
BANGOR, MAINE, April 21, 1956. Hon. ROBERT HALE,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR BOB: I thought I should put something on paper on the subject of the "equal time” bills now pending so you would not have to depend wholly on our conversation of last week.
As I understand it, the bills which have been introduced and which are now before the committee are:
A. H. R. 6810, which appears to allow legally qualified candidates of all kinds to appear on news and panel programs and so on without subjecting the broadcaster to the equal-time provision of section 315.
B. H. R. 10529, which appears to accomplish the same purpose but only in the case of legally qualified candidates for the offices of President, Vice Presidents, Senators, and Congressmen.
C. H. R. 10217, similar to H. R. 10529, but still further limited to legally qualified candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency.
I gather that H. R. 6810 would relieve the broadcaster of equal-time provision of section 315 in the case of nominees and candidates for nomination * * * whereas the other two bills limit their effectiveness to persons who are nominees of major parties or whose candidacy is supported by petitions. H. R. 10529 also covers incumbents.
It is our belief that broadcast stations should be given the widest latitude in the development of social, economic and political subjects in order to carry out their primary purpose of serving the best public interest, convenience, or necessity.
Therefore, because H. R. 6810 will achieve this purpose best, we think it should be favored over the other two bills. Similarly, we think H. R. 10529 is preferable to H. R. 10217. I hope this opinion may be made part of the record of the committee. Respectfully yours,
MURRAY CARPENTER. Mr. HARRIS. I have a communication here from our colleague, Mrs. Church, together with a letter from WGN, requesting that it be included in the record and it will be included in the record at this point. (The documents referred to are as follows:)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. March 16, 1956. Hon. OREN HARRIS,
Chairman, Transportation and Communications Subcommittee, Committee
on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Wash
ington, D. C. DEAR MR. HARRIS: I am taking the liberty of sending you herewith letter received from Mr. Frank P. Schreiber, vice president, WGN, 441 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago 11, Ill., expressing his strong support of H. R. 6810.
In accordance with Mr. Schreiber's request, I would deeply appreciate it if you would include his letter in the record of the hearings on this bill, H. R. 6810. Thanking you for your courtesy and with best wishes, I am, Sincerely yours,
MARGUERITE STITT CHURCH.
CHICAGO, III., March 9, 1956. Hon. MARGUERITE STITT CHURCH, House of Representatives Office Building,
Washington, D. C. DEAR CONGRESSWOMAN CHURCH: H. R. 6810 is now being discussed in the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Communications. A companion measure in the Senate is S. 2306. This legislation will amend the Communications Act, section 315 (a), by giving stations and networks freedom of judgment in the presentation of candidates for public office on news, panel, and similar type programs.
WGN, Inc., licensee of standard broadcast station WGN and television stations WGN-TV, Chicago, Ill., hereby submits its comments in support of said amendment of section 315 (a) of the Communications Act.
WGN, Inc., believes that adoption of the amendment would be in the public interest. Section 315 (a) in its present form makes it extremely difficult for an independent station to maintain or enlarge its activities as a medium of enlightenment on current political candidates. For example, WGN, Inc., has telecast the program Senators Report for many years. The incumment Senators from Illinois and surrounding States receiving the WGN, Inc., signals participate on this radio and television program designed to inform the public of the positions taken by the speakers on topical matters. During a political campaign, section 315 (a) may be interpreted to require that equal time be given to each opposing candidate of the Senators appearing on that program. Instead of engendering knowledge, section 315 (a) in its present form may have the opposite effect in the case of programs like Senators Report. The election laws of the various States, from which the Senators come, allow for many individuals to become candidates, even though such individuals may subscribe to issues not in the public interest (and consequently receive the number of votes consistent with such positions). The forced presentation of such individuals, only because of their candidate status, takes valuable time away from the presentation of issues in the public interest; and if the number of candidates be too great, the program cannot be presented because of time limitations. Thus, the station may be forced to cancel programs of this type, rather than subject the public to programs containing matter not in the public interest.
Another program of long standing on radio station WGN is the Northwestern University Reviewing Stand. During political campaigns it is the desire of all concerned to present candidates for Governor, Senator, Congressman, and other important public offices on a round-table discussion to better inform the electorate the positions maintained by these various candidates. The electorate is interested in candidates for the primary election. Yet it is impossible to conduct a forum involving all candidates for the primary campaign for Governor of the State of Illinois, because of the number of candidates for that office in the primary. Experience indicates that there are only 2 or 3 candidates for the position of Governor of Illinois after the primary campaign; all others are eliminated in the primary. Yet under the present interpretation of section 315 (a), the nonpotential as well as the potential candidates must be given equal time on this forum program. Although some argument may be made for the position that all candidates in the primary have something to say, an inordinate amount of time would be required to present all these viewpoints, many of which cannot be classified as matters in the public interest.
The example set forth above of two programs is a mere indication of the many problems to be assumed by an independent station under the present interpretation of section 315 (a). Many other public service programs could be cited to indicate that the public interest is not served by programing now required under the present interpretation of section 315 (a). However, the proposed amendment of section 315 (a), as set forth in H. R. 6810 and S. 2306, carries out in part the original intent of Congress: to allow stations to assume the responsibilities placed upon them by other sections of the Communications Act, and to afford stations the opportunity to provide adequate and responsible news and discussion coverage of legally qualified political candidates.
Wherefore, WGN, Inc. respectfully requests Congress to adopt the amendment proposed. Respectfully submitted.
By FRANK P. SCHREIBER. Mr. HARRIS. I have a communication from the American Broadcasting Co., on the same subject which will be made a part of the record at this time.
(The document is as follows:)
COMMENTS OF THE AMERICAN BROADCASTING CO. ON H. R. 6810, A BILL TO AMEND
SECTION 315 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934
The American Broadcasting Co. is opposed to H. R. 6810 which would modify section 315 of the Communications Act to include provision that 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 section. 315.
As section 315 presently stands, a broadcaster is under no obligation to permit a legally qualified candidate for public office the use of his station. However, once he does permit such candidate the use of his facilities, he is required to “afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office * * *."
From the language of the statute, the intention of the legislators is clear; legally qualified candidates of all parties shall be given equal opportunity with respect to use of broadcasting facilities. As licensees accorded the right to a television channel or broadcasting frequency, the responsibilities which accompany these privileges are weighty and section 315 merely proscribes in particular the responsibilities of the broadcaster in the field of political broadcasts wherein political candidates appear.
While it is true that there may be certain disadvantages in the present section 315, the basic guaranty provided therein to all legally qualified candidates is, in our opinion, of maximum importance and outweighs any possible disadvantages.
With the ever-increasing role which television plays, it cannot be denied that any exposure of a candidate on television is advantageous to him. Even if the program were confined to discussion of a particular issue and did not permit direct campaigning, the fact that the public will be able to see the candidate in action expressing his views, even on a nonpolitical subject, provides a good opportunity for the public to become acquainted with him. This privilege should not be left to the broadcaster to dispense unregulated by law. The requirement of operating in the public interest is not sufficient. The candidate of a minority party needs the protection of a law which guarantees to him that his opposing candidate cannot be given this valuable exposure at no cost to him without the broadcaster according the minority candidate similar opportunity.
Section 315 does not extend to programs wherein candidates may be advocated or discussed, or election issues discussed by others appearing on their behalf. The major problems raised by section 315 and emphasized by those who advocate its amendment are the limitations imposed upon the broadcaster in scheduling debate and forum-type programs wherein candidates appear without cost to themselves. The advocates of H. R. 6810 point out that this type of programing is presently impossible since, under section 315, the broadcaster would become obligated to accord similar use of his facilities to every other candidate who came within the definition of “a legally qualified candidate” as more specifically defined by FCC rul's and regulations. It is to be pointed out, however, that this type of programing can still be scheduled without any burden of granting time to minority candidates if the speakers chosen are not the candidates themselves. In other words, we still can have the Lincoln-Douglas debate with Messrs. Hall and Butler as the debaters. Even if section 315 were amended as is presently proposed, it is difficult to conceive that the presidential candidates themselves would agree to participate in a Lincoln-Douglas type debate. The fact that presidential candidates are almost never in the same city at the same time is only one of the many obstacles which would make this type programing difficult to schedule.
Under section 315 as presently construed, each candidate for offiee knows that with respect to use of broadcasting facilities he will be accorded similar treatment as his opponent. While the political scene is as presently constituted with two major parties, it may seem of less importance that candidates of parties who represent fractional interests in our country be accorded the same opportunity as those representatives of the major parties. It is, however, impossible to foresee that this situation will always remain and the possibility of a third party is ever present. The broadcaster should not be put in a position where he makes the decision that the third-party candidate is of less importance than the candidates of the two other parties and therefore need not be given equal treatment.
It is our opinion that by working out problems as they arise on a case-to-case basis and by Commission interpretation, the minor disadvantages of section 315 can be remedied. The unusual situations, as for example the case of William R. Schneider who in 1952 protested to the Commission and was finally given two