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States with a nationwide competitive television service, depends in large part on antenna towers of considerable height. Increasing the height of the antenna tower is the most effective means available for improving the service being rendered by a broadcast station, and high towers are particularly important for providing adequate service by television stations operating in the ultrahigh frequency portion of the radio spectrum. Thus, in any particular case involving the construction of a radio antenna tower which would extend into the navigable airspace, the public interest involved in air navigation must be weighed against the public interest in having efficient coverage by radio and television stations. That is not to say that the Commission believes that television towers must, in all cases, be constructed on the site selected regardless of the effect on air navigation, but rather that adjustments may be made in particular cases by the aviation industry or the broadcasting industry which will result in the maximum benefit to the public. In this respect we wish to reemphasize that in the case of radio antenna towers, unlike many other structures or objects of natural growth extending into the navigable airspace over which there is no control, the public interest in adequate radio and television service is clearly involved, as well as private property rights. Moreover, the existing procedures are designed to take into account, and have taken into account, the interests of both the aviation and broadcasting industries.
In view of the fact that the present procedures and policies with respect to antenna towers have proven to be satisfactory, the Commission has doubts as to the necessity for enacting any new legislation to cope with this matter. Moreover, it is believed that any new legislation should await the findings of the Air Coordinating Committee's Industry-Government Committee, mentioned above, which is now making a comprehensive study of the antenna tower question. Included among the tasks which have been assigned to this committee is the job of recommending any appropriate actions including legislation, which it may find to be necessary.
However, while the Commission is of the opinion that any legislative action should await the findings of the Industry-Government Committee, we believe that certain comments concerning possible legislation are now in order. As indicated above, we believe that any policy for the handling of the antenna tower problem should take into full consideration, the interests of both the aviation and broadcasting industries. House Joint Resolution 138 would require the Commission before authorizing an antenna tower of over 1,000 feet, or renewing the license of a station using such a tower, to make a special finding that the tower was not a hazard to air navigation. It is not entirely clear whether the resolution would permit the Commission, in making that determination, to take into consideration all the public interest factors involved, both with respect to aviation and broadcasting or whether it would be restricted to considering the sole question of whether a hazard to air navigation existed. If the resolution would permit consideration of all the pertinent public interest factors, the resolution would apparently not effect a change in existing criteria or procedures. If, on the other hand, the resolution is intended to confine the Commission to determining whether an air hazard exists, it would appear to be unduly restrictive. In the first place since any structure, rising above the mean terrain is, to some degree at least, a hazard to air navigation the language would at least pave the way for court argument that any tower over 1,000 feet which increases the potential hazards to air navigation in any respect would have to be found to be a hazard even though such increased hazard could be minimized or totally eliminated by minor shifts in air routes. Thus, it might be argued that the escape clause under which towers over 1,000 feet could be approved if the Commission finds the tower is not a hazard “due to being shielded by existing structures, or for other reasons” might not permit consideration of the extent or scope of the added navigational hazard, as well as the fact of whether any additional hazard, whatsoever, exists. It is, moreover, not believed that it would serve the public interest to exclude from consideration the need for using a high tower to bring radio or television services to the public. The Commission should retain the authority to weigh the respective interests of both aviation and broadcasting and to consider both the extent and seriousness of the hazard which might result, and the alternatives that might be available to the broadcaster or the aviation interest.
On the basis of past experience, the Commission bas serious doubts that any absolute standard, such as 1,000 feet above ground, is appropriate for determining whether antenna towers are, or are not, a hazard to air navigation. It is the Commission's opinion that each antenna tower must be considered on its own merits, as is now the case under the procedures established by part 17 of the Commission's Rules. There are numerous variable factors which must be taken into account of which the height of the tower is only one. Thus, a 1,000-foot tower located far from any landing area and from any air routes may be a minimal air hazard while a 200-foot tower located near an important airport may be a serious menace. Similarly, a comparatively small tower erected on a high point of land could constitute a definite menace.
In summary, therefore, the Commission believes that the procedures now being followed by the Commission and the airspace subcommittees have been successful in protecting the public interest both in the aviation and the broadcasting fields. Moreover, it is our opinion that any legislative action should await the completion of the study of the antenna tower question now being conducted under the auspices of the Air Coordinating Committee. Finally, any legislation which may ultimately be enacted should recognize fully the public interest in both aviation and broadcasting.
THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE,
Washington, April 15, 1955. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN PRIEST: This is in response to your letter of January 29, 1955, requesting the comments of the Department on House Joint Resolution 138, which would forbid the Federal Communications Commission from granting a license for the construction of radio and television stations using antennas extending over 1,000 feet above the ground, or renewing a license for any station unless the Commission makes a special finding that the tower is not a hazard to air navigation.
Recent developments in the radio and television broadcasting industry which require the utilization of transmitting antennas extending 1,000 feet or more above the surrounding terrain have raised a problem of major concern to both the aviation industry, as well as agencies of the Government primarily concerned with these activities.
In recognition of this problem, the Air Coordinating Committee in its January 13, 1955, meeting recommended the establishment of a joint industry-Government committee to investigate the tall-tower problem and recommend appropriate action. The Air Coordinating Committee recommended as follows:
“The ACC establish a high level temporary Industry-Government Committee, representing all segments of industry and Government concerned with the talltower problem which would: (1) Identify, investigate, and study the issues (legal, safety, and economic) involved in the joint use of airspace by the aviation and broadcasting industries; (2) recommend appropriate action, including legislation, if such is necessary, which will establish the position of the Federal Government ar be beneficial to he continued growth of the industries concerned consistent with the primary requirements of our national economy and national defense.”
As a result of this recommendation an investigating committee was established consisting of Commissioner Robert E. Lee of the Federal Communications Commission, F. B. Lee, Administrator of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the Civil Aeronautics Board, representatives of the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, the United States Army, and important segments of the radio and television industry and the aviation industry.
In view of the fact that this problem is being studied by top-level industry and Government agency members in accordance with the recommendation of the Air Coordinating Committee, we believe that enactment, at this time, of this or similar legislation is inadvisable. It is contemplated that the committee may find that this problem also concerns the use of transmitting towers of less than 1,000 feet above the ground and tall towers which are used for purposes other than a transmitting antenna and, therefore, legislation such as proposed might prove to be inadequate and premature.
We believe that existing rules, regulations, and procedures of the Federal Communications Commission and the Civil Aeronautics Administration can be utilized, with a reasonable degree of satisfaction, until such time as a more acceptable method of handling this problem is found by the investigating committee. Furthermore, we believe that the legislation, at least for the moment, is too restrictive in that it does not permit the Federal Communications Commission to license a station unless the Commission makes a finding that a proposed tower “is not a hazard to air navigation.” Current procedures which we believe more adequately take into consideration the essential interests of all parties concerned, permit a tower to be constructed even though it is in fact a hazard so long as it is found to be an acceptable one.
For the above reasons we believe that enactment of the proposed legislation should be deferred until the problem has been thoroughly investigated to insure that the best possible solution has been found. The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there is no objection to the submission of this report to your committee. If we can be of any further assistance, please call upon us. Sincerely yours,
SINCLAIR WEEKS, Secretary of Commerce.
DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE,
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, February 6, 1956. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : Reference is made to your request to the Secretary of Defense for the views of the Department of Defense with respect to House Joint Resolution 138, 84th Congress, a resolution limiting the height of certain radio and television antenna towers. The Secretary of Defense has delegated to the Department of the Air Force the responsibility for expressing the views of the Department of Defense thereon.
The purpose of the resolution would be accomplished by directing the Federal Communications Commission not to grant a license for, or renew the license of, any radio or television station using an antenna tower over 1,000 feet above the ground, unless a special finding shall be made that due to shielding by existing obstructions or for other reasons such tower is not a hazard to air navigation.
As stated in Civil Air Policy, “the United States has a strong national interest in the airspace for at least three reasons: It is a highway for interstate commerce; it is a zone vital to the defense of the country; it is necessary to the postal service.” The continuous and foreseeable encroachment into the airspace by ever-increasing numbers of tall television towers must be viewed, therefore, not only as the precipitation of a conflict between the aviation and broadcasting industries but as a detriment to aviation safety which is of vital Federal concern in these three distinct areas.
Although the Communications Act of 1934 has been amended frequently, a .statutory void continues to exist insofar as criteria are concerned for the construction of towers which by their effect on the utilization of the navigable airspace have a direct bearing upon the public welfare. The Federal Communications Commission continues to be the sole Federal body enjoined by statute to adjudicate the construction of transmitting towers—not only on the basis of communicative and economic factors but also in light of their purely aeronautical effects.
A Joint Industry-Government Tall Structure Committee, established by the Air Coordinating Committee, has been conducting a study of the issues involved in the joint use of airspace by the aviation and broadcasting industries. This Committee is expected to recommend appropriate action, including such legislation as may be necessary, to insure the continued growth of the industries concerned, consistent with the requirements of national defense. The Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force are represented on the Joint Industry-Government Tall Structure Committee. This Committee has produced, in approximately 10 months of study, the skeleton framework for a new national aviation policy regarding tall antenna structures and a limiting height criteria. It is the understanding of the Department of Defense that the final recommendations of the Joint Industry-Government Tall Structure Committee will be ready for submission to the Air Coordinating Committee within the next 60 days.
In view of its participation in the Joint Industry-Government Committee study, the Department of Defense feels that it must in good faith refrain from comment on the problem of antenna structures above 1,000 feet in height until such time as the final recommendations of that Joint Committee have been approved by the Air Coordinating Committee.
This report has been coordinated within the Department of Defense in accordance with procedures established by the Secretary of Defense.
The Bureau of the Budget has advised that it has no objection to the submission of this report. Sincerely yours,
DUDLEY C. SHARP, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
BUREAU OF THE BUDGET,
Washington, D. C., April 5, 1955. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Forcign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : This is in reply to your letter of January 29, 1955, requesting the views of this office with respect to House Joint Resolution 138, limiting the height of certain radio and television antenna towers.
The Secretary of Commerce, in his report to your committee on this resolution, points out that a special committee, the Joint Industry-Government Tall Structure Committee, established pursuant to a recommendation of the Air Coordinating Committee, is currently studying the issues involved in joint use of airspace by the aviation and broadcasting industries. This Committee is expected to recommend appropriate action, including such legislation as may be necessary, which will establish the policy of the Federal Government and be beneficial to the continued growth of the industries concerned consistent with the requirements of our national economy and national defense.
This Office concurs with the views contained in the report of the Secretary of Commerce, and recommends that enactment of legislation bearing on this matter be deferred until the current study is completed. Sincerely yours,
CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD,
Washington, February 9, 1955. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. PRIEST: This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 29, 1955, in which you requested the Board's comments on House Joint Resolution 138, limiting the height of certain radio and television antenna towers.
The airspace problems created by tall towers are of serious concern to the Board. At a meeting of the Air Coordinating Committee on January 13, 1955, the Board and other participating agencies voted unanimously to establish a joint industry-Government committee to study the questions involved and to l'ecommend appropriate action, including legislation if such were found to be necessary. The Board is represented on this committee and the committee has been instructed to submit its report within 90 days.
Because the matters encompassed by House Joint Resolution 138 are presently under consideration as indicated above, the Board believes that it would be more useful to your committee to await the findings of this joint industryGovernment committee before submitting substantive comments on the joint resolution. If this meets with your approval, the Board will submit a further report on House joint resolution 138 promptly upon completion of the abovementioned study. Sincerely yours,
CHAN GURNEY, Acting Chairman. Mr. HARRIS. In order to make the task of the Federal Communications Commission easier, we have scheduled hearings on all these bills to enable the Commission to present views on them in a single hearing instead of requiring them to come back day after day on each proposal.
I am very glad to observe the Chairman of the Commission and other members of the Commission here this morning.
We have given you a rather large order this morning in the several bills presented and I think we are fortunate in having the Chairman of the Commission here to lead off on these highly important and technical provisions.
Mr. McConnaughey, we are very glad to welcome you and the other members of the Commission. We will give you the privilege of presenting the other members so that the record may show their pres
STATEMENTS OF HON. GEORGE C. McCONNAUGHEY, CHAIRMAN;
HON. JOHN C. DOERFER, COMMISSIONER; AND WARREN E. BAKER, GENERAL COUNSEL, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Mr. Chairman and members of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. I deem it a privilege to be able to present to you our views first on H. R. 6810
Mr. Harris. Would you like the privilege, Mr. Chairman, of presenting your colleagues who are with you, so that the record may show their presence?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Commissioner Webster, Commissioner Bartley, Commissioner Doerfer. I believe those are all of the members of the Commission that are here. There are members of the staff present.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much. I note that several members of your staff are here and we are very glad to welcome them here this morning.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I would like to make a statement concerning H. R. 6810. It is a proposal to amend section 315 (a) of the Communications Act of 1934, which concerns the vital field of political broadcasts. As you know, the section now provides that if the licensee of a radio broadcasting station permits a legally qualified candidate for a public office to use his station, he must afford all other legally qualified candidates for the same office equal opportunity to use his station. Moreover, a station licensee is prohibited from exercising any power of censorship over material which is broadcast pursuant to the section. The section does not, however, impose any obligation upon any licensee to permit his station to be used by any candidate. These provisions of section 315 have been in effect since the enactment of the Radio Act of 1927, despite numerous attempts to amend or eliminate them.
The present proposal would significantly alter the existing statute. It would exempt entirely from the provisions of section 315 (a) any appearance by a legally qualified candidate on the following types of programs: News, news interview, news documentary, panel discussion, debate, or similar type program, if the format and production of the program and the participants therein are determined by the broadcasting station, or by the network, if it is a network program.
The proposal is apparently intended to permit broadcasters to provide more complete coverage of the election campaigns of major party presidential candidates. Proponents of the legislation point out that in. 1952 there were 18 legally qualified candidates for the Presidency. This fact served to inhibit stations and networks from