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vigorously prosecuting it, the stations are willing to ignore the fact until the 31st of March. But on the 1st day of April I become a candidate, and they refuse to put me on the air.
Mr. BAKER. Sir, I have not looked at the particular law in your State. If the laws specifically state that by a certain date a petition must be filed before you are a candidate, then it is a proper interpretation. In other words, if the mere announcement of the candidate without the filing of any paper would make you a candidate, then I would say the station has improperly interpreted the law.
Mr. HALE. Under the law in our State, you don't have to file your papers until 60 days before the primary election. You may file any time you like after the first of the year. My point is that I don't think stations have any fancy academic definitions of what a candidate is. They just make a rule of thumb and say "You can stay on the air until 60 or 90 days," or some other arbitrary period before the election.
Mr. BAKER. The only way I can answer that, Congressman, is that if
you have filed your papers on the 1st of January and it is legal in your State to do so, if you have radio time during January and your opponent files during that time, and asks for equal time, and he comes to the FCC, he would get an interpretation that he is entitled to it. On the day that the station decides they no longer will give free time, irrespective of whether you are a candidate or not at that time, you have no right to further free time. You must remember that the law permits the station to exclude all candidates and never give time if they so desire. There is no obligation under this particular provision of the statute to give time whether you are a candidate or not.
Mr. HALE. I think that as a practical matter the stations decide for themselves what chances they want to take.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Rogers.
Mr. ROGERS. Suppose the XYZ company has a paid program on the television station, and they decide that they want Mr. Hale to appear on a panel, and the company sponsors the program, what is the position of the television station if Mr. Williams is running for the same office and demands equal time. Is he entitled to an equal amount of time even though the XYZ corporation paid for the time that was provided for the panel of Mr. Hale?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. If they pay for the time?
Mr. Rogers. The corporation pays for the time and sponsors the program.
Mr. BAKER. I think they have to pay for the time. If the time has been paid for, whether it is the corporation or the individual, That is my understanding of it.
Mr. ROGERS. Let me say this. It arose in my own particular situation. I was accosted at the fairgrounds one day and asked to make some statements concerning some matters in Washington, and I gladly did it being an election year. The next day the opponent of mine asked for equal time, and was given it. However, this was a paid broadcast. It was being sponsored by some group of people there. I forget who
It was some company that was selling something. They were merely using me while going around the fairgrounds talking to people at random.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. As I understand it, if it is paid for by the corporation, if you want equal time, you have to pay for it. That is my understanding: ;
Mr. HARRIS. Would the gentleman yield there?
Mr. HARRIS. Isn't it a fact that there is a different cost for a political broadcast than a commercial broadcast?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. No; I don't think so. Here is the provision which covers this, which all you gentlemen have been sent copies of.
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.
I was wrong.
Mr. ROGERS. The broadcasting station there thought that it was all right. I had no objection to the man making the statement as far as I was personally concerned. They were a little disturbed about it because they didn't want to run into that in the future. However, to be completely safe, they said they would grant the time and they did grant the time:
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. At no cost.
Mr. ROGERS. That is the thing that disturbs me just a little bit. I can understand why if a station is going to give free time to one candidate I think they should give it to every other candidate in that race, but to make the station answer for what one of its clients did, just doesn't sound right.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is right.
Mr. ROGERS. I think if a man pays the bill, I think he ought to have the right to have anybody on that show that he wants to, and the other candidates ought to get themselves a sponsor, and not put it on the radio or television station.
That is all, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. HARRIS. I am not clear. I understood you to say, Mr. Chairman, a moment ago that a station would not be obligated to give the opposing candidate the time, but he would have to pay for it just like the case that Mr. Rogers spoke of.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Then I was wrong.
Mr. HARRIS. Then I understood you read a statement from your public notice of September 8, 1954, to the contrary.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is right, I was wrong in my original statement.
Mr. HARRIS. Very well.
I believe without objection we will have this statement on use of broadcast facilities by candidates for public office prepared by the Federal Communications Commission included in the record at this point.
In accordance with the mandate of section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, the Commission on September 2, 1954, revised its rules, relating to rates charged for political broadcasts coming within the provisions of section 315 (Docket No. 11092). We believe it is appropriate, at this time, as an aid to licensees in handling various questions which may arise under section 315 of the act to recapitulate in this document the provisions of the act and the Commission's rules adopted in implementation thereof, together with a brief summary of some of the more important questions which have been raised by interested parties in recent years with respect to the obligations of licensees under this section and the Commission's determinations thereon.
The information contained herein does not purport to be a discussion of every problem that may arise in the political broadcast field. It is rather a codification of the determinations of the Commission with respect to the problems which have been presented to it and which appear likely to be involved in future campaigns. The purpose of this report is the clarification of licensee responsibility and course of action when situations discussed herein are encountered. In this way, resort to the Commission may be obviated in many instances, and time—which is of such importance in political campaigns—will he conserved. We do not mean to preclude inquiries to the Commission when there is a bona fide doubt as to a licensee's obligations under section 315. But it is believed that the following discussion will, in many instances, remove the need for such inquiries and that licensees will be able to take the necessary prompt action in these cases involving election campaigns in accordance with the interpretations and positions set forth below.
It is to be emphasized that this discussion relates solely to obligations of broadcast licensees under section 315 of the Communications Act and is not intended to treat with the wholly separate question of the treatment by broadcast licensees in the public interest of political or other contraversial programs or discussions not falling within the specific provisions of that section. With respect to the responsibilities of broadcast stations for insuring fair and balanced presentation of programs not coming within section 315, but relating to important public issues of a controversial nature including political broadcasts, licensees are referred to the Commission's Report, “Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees” (Release No. 215, June 2, 1949) and the cases cited therein. In this respect it is particularly important that licensees recognize that the special obligations imposed upon them by the provisions of section 315 of the Communications Act with respect to certain types of political broadcasts do not in any way limit the applicability of general public interest concepts to political broadcasts not falling within the provisions of section 315 of the Communications Act. On the contrary, in view of the obvious importance of such programming to our system of representative government it is clear that these precepts, as set forth in the Report referred to above are of particular applicability to such programing.
We have adopted a question-and-answer format as an appropriate means of delineating the section 315 problems. Wherever possible' references to Commission decisions or rulings are made so that the researcher may, if he desires, profit by the more thorough or expansive statement of the Commission's position found in such decisions. Copies of rulings not otherwise available may be found in a “Political Broadcast” folder kept in the Commission's Public Reference Room.
1 A few of the questions taken up within have been presented to the Commission in. formally—that is, through telephone conversations or conferences with station repre. sentatives. They are set out in this Report because of the likelihood of their reoccurrence and the fact that no extended Commission discussion is necessary to dispose of them, the answer in each case is clear from the language of section 315.
I. The Statute. Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, provides 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: Provided, That such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provisions of this section. No obligation is hereby imposed upon any licensee to allow the use of its station by any such candidate.
“(b) 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.
“(c) The Commission shall prescribe appropriate rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section."
II. The Commission's rules and regulations with respect to political broadcasts. The Commission's rules and regulations with respect to political broadcasts coming within section 315 of the Communications Act are set forth in $$ 3.190 (AM), 3.290 (FM), 3.590 (Non-Commercial Educational FM), and 3.657 (TV), respectively. These provisions are identical (except for elimination of any discussion of charges in $ 3.590 relating to noncommercial educational FM stations) and read as follows:
“Broadcasts by candidates for public office(a) Definitions. A "legally qualified candidate” means any person who has publicly announced that he is a candidate for nomination by a convention of a political party or for nomination or election in a primary, special, or general election, municipal, county, State or National, and who meets the qualifications prescribed by the applicable laws to hold the office for which he is a candidate, so that he may be voted for by the electorate directly or by means of delegates or electors, and who
“(1) Has qualified for a place on the ballot or
“(2) Is eligible under the applicable law to be voted for by sticker, by writing in his name on the ballot, or other method, and
“(i) Has been duly nominated by a political party which is commonly known and egarded as such, or
“ (ii) Makes a substantial showing that he is a bona fide candidate
for nomination of office, as the case may be. “(b) General requirements. No station licensee is required to permit the use of its facilities by any legally qualified candidate for public office, but if any licensee shall permit any such candidate to use its facilities, it shall afford equal opportunities to all such other candidates for that office to use such facilities; provided, that such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast by any such candidate.
"(c) Rates and practices. (1) The rates, if any, charged all such candidates for the same office shall be uniform and shall not be rebated by any means direct or indirect. A candidate shall, in each case, be charged no more than the rate the station would charge if the candidate were a commercial advertiser whose advertising was directed to promoting its business within the same area as that encompassed by the particular office for which such person is a candidate. All discount privileges otherwise offered by a station to commercial advertisers shall be available upon equal terms to all candidates for public office.
“(2) In making time available to candidates for public office no licensee shall make any discrimination between candidates in charges, practices, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with the service rendered pursuant to this part, or make or give any preference to any candidate for public office or subject any such candidate to any prejudice or disadvantage; nor shall any licensee make any contract or other agreement which shall have the effect of permitting any legally qualified candidate for any public office to broadcast to the exclusion of other legally qualified candidates for the same public office.
" (d) Records; inspection. Every licensee shall keep and permit public inspection of a complete record of all requests for broadcast time made by or on behalf of candidates for public office, together with an appropriate notation showing the disposition made by the licensee of such requests, and the charges made, if any, if request is granted."
In addition, the attention of licensees is directed to the provisions of 88 3.189. (b), 3.289 (b) and 3.654 (b) which provide in identical language:
“(b) In the case of any political program or any program involving the discussion of public controversial issues for which any records, transcriptions, talent, scripts, or other material or services of any kind are furnished, either directly or indirectly, to a station as an inducement to the broadcasting of such program, an announcement shall be made both at the beginning and conclusion of such program on which such material or services are used that such records, transcriptions, talent, scripts, or other material or services have been furnished to such station in connection with the broadcasting of such program: provided, however, that only one such announcement need be made in the case of any such program of five minutes' duration or less, which announcement may be made either at the beginning or the conclusion of the program.”
III. Programs coming within section 315. In general, any use of broadcast facilities by a legally qualified candidate for public office, imposes an obligation on licensees to afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for the same office.
“A. Types of users.
“1. Q. Does section 315 apply to one speaking for or on behalf of the candidate, as contrasted with the candidate himself?
“A. No. The section applies only to legally qualified candidates. Candidate A has no legal right under section 315 to demand time where B, not a candidate, has spoken against A or in behalf of another candidate. (Felix v. Westinghouse Radio Stations, 182 F. 2d 1, cert. den. 333 U. S. 876.)
“2. Q. Where time has been afforded to a party for political talks by noncandidates, must a request for time by spokesmen for another party be honored under section 315?
“A. No. Section 315 affords a personal right to candidates only and is not concerned with parties, as such. Idem.
“3. Q. Do the provisions of section 315 require stations to afford equal opportunities in the use of their facilities in support of or in opposition to a public question to be voted upon in any election ?
“A. No. The language and legislative history of section 315 clearly limit the application of this section to legally qualified candidates for public office.
"B. What constitutes a 'use of broadcast facilities entitling opposing candidates to equal opportunities?
“4. Q. If a legally qualified candidate secures air time but does not discuss matters directly related to his candidacy, is this a use of facilities under section 315?
“A. Yes. Section 315 does not distinguish between the uses of broadcast time by a candidate, and the licensee not authorized to pass on requests for time by opposing candidates on the basis of the licensee's evaluation of whether the original use was or was not in aid of a candidacy. (WMCA, Inc. 7 R. R. 1132.)
“5. Q. Must a broadcaster give equal time to a candidate whose opponent has broadcast in some other capacity than as a candidate?
“A. Yes. For example, a weekly report of a Congressman to his constituents via radio or television is a broadcast by a legally qualified candidate for public office as soon as he becomes a candidate for reelection, and his opponent must be given equal opportunity for time on the air. Any 'use' of a station by a candidate, in whatever capacity, entitles his opponent to 'equal opportunities.' (Station KNGS, 7 R. R. 1130.)
“6. Q. If a candidate appears on a variety program for a very brief bow or statement, are his opponents entitled to 'equal opportunities' on the basis of this brief appearance?
"A. Yes. All appearances of a candidate, no matter how brief or perfunctory, are a 'use of a station's facilities within section 315.
“7. Q. If a candidate is accorded station time for a speech in connection with a ceremonial activity or other public service is an opposing candidate entitled to equal utilization of the station's facilities?
“A. Yes. Section 315 contains no exception with respect to broadcast by legally qualified candidates carried “in the public interest” or as a 'public service.' It follows that the station's broadcast of the candidate's speech was a 'use of the facilities of the station by a legally qualified candidate giving rise to an obligation by the station under section 315 to afford equal opportunity to other legally qualified candidates for the same office. (Letter to CBS (WBBM), dated October 31, 1952; letter to KFI, dated October 31, 1952.)
“8. Q. If a station arranges for a debate between the candidates of two parties, or presents the candidates of two parties in a press conference format or so-called forum program, is the station required to make equal time available to other candidates ?