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Now, do you feel that if they are in the public interest there is any way to approach it whereby those public service programs may be permitted, without the flight into further evils, as was quoted by our distinguished friend a moment ago (Mr. Doliver), that we know not of? Do you feel that there is a way that that could be done?
Mr. MCCONNAUGHEY. Mr. Chairman, I do not know, and I frankly have no suggestions. I wish there were some way that you could pick some of those fine programs, and they could be put on the air, but I do not know how.
Mr. HARRIS. Well, do you not feel that under certain limitations, that if there were appropriate restrictions, and under the high ethical standards that the industry promotes, that they should be given some leeway themselves toward running the industry in that regard !
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I do not think so.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. No, sir. I think it is not only the burden, but I think that if you put it up to the judgment of the individual as to what is fair and what is not fair, and then you come to interpreting that, that puts a station operator, or a network, in—I think--a very
-a difficult if not almost impossible position. That is what I am apprehensive of.
Mr. HARRIS. But you do feel that these programs are highly beneficial and in the public interest?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Many of them are that I have listened to. I have had that feeling, sir.
Some of them are not.
Mr. HARRIS. I suppose the best way that we can find out is from the public, when we take them off the air and then see if there is any clamor for them, or if there is any demand for them.
But, in your agency, you do not feel that there is any way to compromise this at all?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I know of none, sir.
Mr. HARRIS. If there could be some way to permit the desirable programs to continue without leaving the pitfalls, would you be for that?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Yes, fundamentally, if we could get away from the difficulties which I pointed out, and avoid the discriminations.
Mr. HARRIS. Including censorship and its liabilities?
Mr. Hale. Would you object, Mr. McConnaughey, to legislation of this character if it were confined to candidates for the presidency of the United States in presidential campaigns.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Confined to that alone?
Mr. Hale. In other words, suppose the President of the United States
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Pardon me, sir. I am sorry. I have not given that thought. I am not in a position to answer that question this morning, “Yes” or “No," because I have not given that thought. I
I would hesitate to say that I would favor that.
Mr. HALE. Let me put this case. Suppose the President of the United States, whoever he may be, the present incumbent, or someone
else, of any political party, a week or a month before the presidential election, wanted to make a broadcast to the country on some question of national importance—say a question of national defense, or a question of foreign policy.
Under the existing law be cannot have the free use of the radio or television facilities unless like facilities are accorded to some candidate of an obscure political party who is not going to get more than 50,000 or 100,000 votes in the whole United States.
Now, is not that a little tough?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I do not so read the law. I think if the incumbent President of the United States, whoever he may be, has a matter of great national importance, such as the defense or protection of the United States to present, and desires to go on the air, I do not conceive that that would require stations to give equal time to other candidates. That is my own personal opinion.
Mr. HALE. Well, if he is not a candidate. Whether he is a candidate or not?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I say, whether he is a candidate or not, if it is a matter of national defense, or protecting the defenses of this country, or any matter of great national interest.
Mr. HALE. Well, in the case of a presidential election, I take it that you would be willing to make that exception?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. No; I do not feel that way at all. It depends on what he is saying. Under your question to me, if he had something of great national importance concerning the defenses and protection of this country, now, to me, that would place an entirely different light on the whole question, regardless of who is President.
Mr. HALE. I am quite confident that under the existing law the stations would hesitate to give him free time for that purpose.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I do not know.
Mr. HALF. They will not give it to me; when I get within 3 months of a primary election, I'm not allowed to go on the air even to say that Congress yesterday passed such and such a bill.
Mr. MCCONNAUGHEY. That is right. Well, I will have to go back to my feeling—and I say I'm not in a position to answer your question about presidential candidates, without thinking it over—but my offhand opinion is that I do not think that they should be given ditferent treatment than other candidates. I think it should apply to all candidates.
Sometimes we have other parties and we could conceivably have several parties in this country that should have the right to be heardquite a few of them. We could have the Progressive Party, the Bull Moose Party, and you can go on, and on, and on.
I feel that we have something that is pretty sound and we ought to be awfully careful before we start changing it.
Mr. Hale. All I can say is that you make it very difficult for the actual incumbent in a public office, who is unfortunate enough to be a candidate to succeed himself.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Well, we certainly have no desire to do that, sir.
Mr. HALE. That is particularly true of the President of the United States.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I see some weaknesses. I admit to them. They are there. It is a very, very difficult problem.
Mr. HARRIS. Any further questions, Mr. Hale?
Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman, do you feel that this new proposed legislation could very easily result in giving the owner of the station the power to discriminate at his own will? ?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Yes, sir.
Mr. ROGERS. And would actually change the authority from the Commission that is set up to regulate this, to the individual who happened to own the station!
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is correct, sir.
Mr. WILLIAMS. Under this bill, a station in its discretion gives equal time, as I understand it, to what they may consider to be the major political candidates or parties, is that right?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. They must give equal time. They have no alternative but to give equal time. They can refuse time, sir, to anyone. They can refuse time to you, and if I am your opponent, they can then refuse time to me, but if they give you time, they must under the law give me an equal amount of time.
Mr. HARRIS. Conversely, if an issue is discussed on a certain program wherein one party is involved, and time is requested, they must give time to the other party on the same issue.
Mr. McCONAUGHEY. That is correct.
Mr. WILLIAMS. In that respect, you mentioned that this would result in a station using its own judgment, which might result in discrimination against certain parties. Would you clarify that just a bit more?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. It is on news, news interviews, and news documentaries. They can bring them in under the guise of news, and they would be exempted from the Federal Communications Act with reference to giving equal time to an opponent.
Mr. WILLIAMS. As I understand it, the present law requires that when a radio station or a network gives free time to the Republican candidate for President, it must also make the same amount of free time available to the Democratic candidate if he so requests ?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is right.
Mr. WILLIAMS. And also to the 16 or 18 minor candidates who might happen to be in the field ?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is correct, sir.
Mr. WILLIAMS. Under the proposed change or amendment to the law in H. R. 6810, does that still hold true ?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. No. They can have you on the air on a news or a news documentary program, and the other types of programs enumerated here, and then the station-I am the station ownersay,
"I will have you, but I am not going to have Congressman Harris, who is your opponent,” and he can't make me give him equal time if it is on a news or news documentary program. He cannot do that. It is up to me to decide whether it would be fair to give Congressman Harris time.
To me that is where the proposed amendment falls down completely, when I as a station owner am to decide what is fair and what is not
Mr. WILLIAMS. But if the station gives free time to a candidate for office, which I am sure they don't do very often, if they should give free time to the Democratic Party and free time to the Republican Party, they would also have to give free time to other parties who may have a candidate in the field; is that right?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is right.
Mr. WILLIAMS. That is what I am getting at. We had a situation in 1948, you may recall, where a minor party was in the field for the Presidency, and came very close to throwing it in the House of Representatives, and should that occasion arise again, and this bill were to be passed, the radio and television could keep that party—the States Rights Party—completely off the air.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is right. I could take my own State and the gentleman who was a Member of Congress, who was an independent, would be out. Yes, the Dixiecrat Party is a good example.
Mr. WILLIAMS. Let us correct that and make it the States Rights Party. That is all.
Mr. HARRIS. Following that through, then, if the Communist Party asked for free time, it must be given it?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. No, not the Communist Party, as I understand the law today; not under the Communist Control Act. I think under section 3 of that act, that would not be true. I believe I am correct in that.
Mr. HARRIS. Yes; that was included in the recent act of Congress. Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Yes; I believe so.
Mr. HARRIS. But there is a distinction between giving free time to political candidates, and continuing these programs of discussion of public issues by people who may or may not be candidates.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Yes.
Mr. HARRIS. And those are the type programs that you believe, as public-service programs, are in the best interest of the public?
Mr. McConnAUGHEY. I think many of them are, sir.
Mr. HARRIS. And those are the type of programs, if it is possible to reach without leaving ourselves wide open to these other phases of evils, so to speak, that the public should have.
Mr. McConnAUGHEY. I feel that. I think they are fine programs. We had the Town Meeting program in Columbus, Ohio, my hometown. I enjoy the programs. Some so-called public programs are
. not good, but that may be my liking or disliking. I think basically
, they perform a pretty good public service.
Mr. HARRIS. Any further questions, Mr. Beamer?
Mr. BEAMER. Mr. Chairman, with your permission I would like to ask for a definition, if I may. What is a candidate or when is a candidate a candidate? Suppose a person announces that he is going to be a candidate, is he a candidate when the primary or the convention chooses him as a candidate ?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. I don't think so. We have compiled a compilation of questions and answers for broadcasting people, and all the Members of Congress have been furnished with this. I would
like for our General Counsel, Mr. Warren Baker, to answer that question.
Mr. BAKER. The question of who is a legally qualified candidate is not defined in the act. The Commission by interpretation said that a man becomes a candidate when under the existing laws of his State he is a candidate. That may be under a particular statute which requires filing a specific petition with a certain number of names on it, or merely filing an application. In some States, however, it may not require any of those things. It may merely require a public announcement. Therefore, whether you are a candidate will have to depend upon the particular laws of the particular State. You have to make that determination in the light of those laws.
With respect to whether you are a candidate for general election or primary, the Commission has interpreted the two elections to be different. Therefore, you may become a candidate in the primary, a candidate for the nomination of your party, by the various procedures which are applicable in the various States. After you have gone through those procedures and there is a primary election, you may become a candidate in the general election. Those are the crucial dates, if you are interested.
Mr. BEAMER. That presents to me two other questions. It is all very possible that an individual could be permitted in certain areas and certain States to present his program, and in other States he would not be permitted to present the same program at the same time.
The second question, which I think is analogous, support someone else speaks in behalf of a candidate, and not the candidate himself, can that individual be ruled off the air?
Mr. BAKER. The provision in section 315 only applies to appearances or use by candidates. Therefore, if a spokesman appears on your behalf, the only obligations that are present under the law result from the general standards of fairness. I might say that is one of the areas in which the Commission has had the greatest problem in making sure that people are fair.
Mr. BEAMER. I wonder if that is not the crux of the thing? For instance, I may be a candidate, but I am not speaking, but I have plenty of people speaking for me. Shouldn't that be regulated, or should that be left as it is?
Mr. BAKER. I cannot speak for the Commission on that. I can see many problems.
Mr. BEAMER. I think the Commission is going to be called upon to answer that question pretty definitely some time.
Mr. HARRIS. Would you yield to Mr. Hale?
Mr. HALE. I would like to make this comment on the General Counsel's statement. As a practical matter, stations make their own definitions of what they please to call a candidate. In my particular State, we have a primary in June. The candidates are permitted to circulate primary papers, and do in fact start to circulate primary papers in January. But the particular stations that I have in mind just arbitrarily say that you don't become a candidate until the 1st of
a April. That is just a rule of thumb that is not based on anything. In spite of the fact that I have announced my candidacy, and am