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No. 719 to accompany S. 2930, dated May 13, 1924, from the Committee on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries of the House; Report No. 404 to accompany H. R. 9108, dated February 27, 1926, from the committee on regulation of radio communications from the Committee on the Merchant Marine; and the Report No. 464 to accompany 9971, dated March 5, 1926, on regulation of radio communications from the Committee on Merchant Marine; and the minority report, accompanying these two latter reports, be made part of this record by reference thereto. You will find them very useful in considering whether the legislation here proposed shall be passed for, and on behalf of and in the interest of, the group that is pictured in these reports. They were prepared, not by us or under our instigation, but by a commission, and by representatives of the people, working in the interest of the American public and looking only to their protection.
The conclusions arrived at in these reports are most interesting, significant, and important, and are the results of most exhaustive examinations and investigations, honestly conducted and are now parts of the permanent records of both Houses of Congress.
Representative WEFALD. Will you pardon me? It was suggested here yesterday by Mr. Buck, I think, that the radio corporations were so powerful that they could make and unmake Congressmen and Senators, and Presidents, and almost anybody at will.
Mr. BURKAN. They certainly can.
Representative WEFALD. I wondered what would happen to the members of this committee if, after listening to these committee hearings, they should happen to vote against this bill, what would they do to him?
Representative Bloom. Are you meaning, what wouldn't they do to him?
Representative WEFALD. No; what would they do to him?
Mr. BURKAN. Congressman, I can only answer you in this way. If the broadcasters run true to form, and repeat their past performance, they are going to hook up the principal powerful stations so as to reach every congressional district in these United States and repeat the same distorted, twister, garbled and fabricated story that they told the radio audiences throughout this country on the night preceding the first of these hearings. They will present only their side of the issue in the very best light; they will picture themselves as philanthropists, operating their stations at a loss, without any intention of percuniary gain; that the programs broadcast are simply in the interest of the public, and for the recreation, entertainment, and amusement of the dear public; that if the bill is defeated they will have to suspend operations and deprive the shut-ins, the sick, and those in remote and inaccessible places, from the magnificent entertainments that they have been furnishing in
If your conscience dictates to you that you ought to oppose this bill because it is a vicious and paternalistic price-fixing measures, lacking in merit and iniquitous, because it is unconstitutional, because it is depriving a body of useful citizens of their property, without just compensation, for the private benefit of a powerful group,
they will go to your district and charge you with being in sympathy with
a monopoly and a supporter of a monopolistic combination organized to deprive the American people of free musical entertainment.
They will not tell the radio audiences of the charges made against them by the Federal Trade Commission—the accusations in the several reports that I have submitted to you here.
It is going to take men of courage and conviction to stand up and oppose
this measure. The only way to curb their tremendous power, is by Government control and operation of radio broadcasting.
In 1919 Secretary Daniels stated that he was in favor of Government ownership of radio, which he intended to urge upon Congress.
The ether within the limits of the United States is the inalienable possession of the American people, and the right to communicate through the ether belongs, and of right should belong, to the people.
The sooner you come to a realization of the fact that the radio is the most potent instrumentality for the speediest communication yet conceived, for the dissemination and transmission of learning, knowledge, education, recreation, amusement, and pleasure the better. Used for these benign purposes, it is a blessing; but in unscrupulous hands it is a most dangerous instrument for dark, sullen, and mischievous propaganda.
It reaches the innermost recesses of the homes, in remote and inaccessible places, and comes in closer contact with the individual than any instrument yet devised.
Possessing this power, it should not be left in the control of any individual or group of men to use it for their private ends and to promote their private enterprises.
Representative WEFALD. I want to read a card I received, and that shows that even the children of the country may put their minds on this thing. This is sent me from Springfield, Ill., and it reads:
Please vote for the law for the broadcasters, so that we can have lots of nice music. We want lots of good music, for we listen all the time, and don't like this old stuff. Please do this for the sake of the little boys and girls.
Mr. BURKAN. That is but part of a campaign of propaganda launched by the broadcasters to influence Congress on this bíll. You are going to get a good deal more along the same lines, and you must expect to hear similar pleas and receive communications of a similar character, prompted by the propaganda of the broadcasters. You will be besieged and overwhelmed by it while the bill is on the floor of the House and Senate up to the minute the bill is enacted or defeated.
It is going to take strong men to resist and oppose this instrument. The destiny of this Nation is indeed in peril if these men, for their own private, selfish purposes, are going to be allowed to use this powerful instrument of propaganda and publicity without restraint. And a dangerous day is coming if public opinion shall be allowed to be swayed and molded in the interest of a bill of this character by the means resorted to here.
It is unworthy of these men to utilize this powerful instrument in the manner they did, before you gentlemen had even a chance to examine or consider the bill, and before the bill had gotten to the floor of the House.
Don't you realize that they resorted to this instrument at this time for the purpose of oppressing, intimidating, and terrorizing you? As a protection to the people, Congress ought to enact a law, and it ought to be done quickly, that it shall be unlawful for these radio people, in their own interests, and in connection with their own measures, pending before the House and Senate, to utilize the microphone for propaganda and publicity purposes. It ought to be a crime to do such a thing. Otherwise, the interests of the country are entirely in jeopardy.
Representative WEFALD. Have you people sent out any propaganda?
Mr. BURKAN. We have sent out nothing. We did not utilize letters or telegrams with which to deluge Congress. We did not ask people of all sorts, even little children, to write letters to Congress; and none were written. We did not raise a slush fund of $50,000 to put this bill through.
I think this committee ought to appoint a subcommittee to investigate facts and circumstances surrounding the raising of this slush fund; to ascertain how much each broadcaster contributed; to what use it was to be put, and what expenditures were incurred; and the nature, character and extent of this activity in the collection of money to put this bill across.
Representative Bloom. Following what Mr. Wefald said, the representative got out that if we should vote against this bill that it would be practically voting to put some broadcasters out of business, and the listeners-in would not get any music, or any entertainment. Is that a fact?
Mr. BURKAN. Of course not; that is not a fact. They who are responsible for that asertion know that it is absolutely a falsehood. It is given out to excite and alarm the people and to induce them to telegraph or to write to Congressmen and Senators, and to beseech them to vote in favor of the bill. The paying by broadcasters for the material they are using, will no more put them out of business, than their obligation to pay for the materials used in erecting and building the structure from which they are broadcasting.
Representative Bloom. Whether this bill should pass or not, it wouldn't put any of the broadcasters out of business?
Mr. BURKAN. Absolutely not; none have been put out of business and none will be. The broadcasters want a small group to control all broadcasting and to dominate the air.
Now, as to putting broadcasters out of business. This so-called National Association of Broadcasters—we have not yet gotten into the record the names of the membership composing that associationthis association itself, at the Fourth National Radio Conference, voted for resolutions to restrict, reduce, and limit the number of radio broadcasting stations. The tendency is for a small group to control them all so as to have a complete monopoly of the air. Interconnecting stations—that is hookups of 15 or more stations broadcasting from one master program and superpower stations—are putting little stations out of business.
I call attention to the report of proceedings of the Fourth National Radio Conference and recommendations for regulation of radio. The conference was called by the Secretary of Commerce, in Wash
ington, November 9 to 11, 1925. The proceedings of that conference are part of the hearings on the radio control bill before the Committee on Interstate Commerce on S. 1 and S. 1754, January 8 and 9, 1926. On page 71 of that hearing is found the report of committee No. 4 on operating regulations:
6. The committee considered the question: Is it essential to limit the number of broadcasting stations in order to prevent further congestion?
The committee was unanimous in their views that the number of broadcasting stations should be limited, as there was ample evidence already at hand to show that serious congestion was taking place due to the large number of stations not having sufficient frequency separation or repeating frequencies to prevent interference. The committee felt that this was so much in evidence that little time need be spent on the question. They concluded the discussion by adopting the following resolution :
“ Resolved, That it is the sense of this conference that bands of frequencies now assigned to broadcasting are overcrowded, causing serious interference. Therefore, the committee recommends, in the interest of public service, that no new stations be licensed until through discontinuance the number of stations is reduced and until it shall be in the interest of public service to add new stations."
BASIS FOR BROADCASTING PRIVILEGE
7. The committee considered the question: If stations are to be limited in number, should the public interest as represented by service to the listeners be the basis for the broadcasting privilege?
The committee were unanimous in the opinion that, in the interest of public service, it was necessary to limit the number of broadcasting stations, and accordingly adopted the following resolution:
Resolved, That it is the view of this conference that public interest as represented by service to the listener shall be the basis for the broadcasting privilege.”
Representative WEFALD. Do you care if I read another letter into the record ?
Mr. BURKAN. I would be glad to have you read them.
Representative WEFALD. This is a letter sent from a community club in South Dakota. I think it is all right that the country know how this looks to the people. It reads as follows:
I understand you are one of the committee that is to consider regulations of broadcasting. We in this community do not feel that it is just that the broadcasting stations be compelled to pay a copyright on music which is sent from the station. The farmers through the country are receiving much entertainment as well as instruction, which is of immense value in their homes, It seems as if the farmer should have at least this much consideration. We trust you will use your influence to relieve the burdens from the stations so that we may continue to enjoy the programs which are furnished so willingly by the various artists in the cities.
This looks as though it is quite a serious matter.
Mr. BURKAN. It is a very serious matter and the most serious problem that is confronting Congress.
In connection with the radio control bill one of the Senators made mention of the fact that the Government grants to a broadcaster a franchise to operate a broadcasting station. The ether belongs to the American people, inalienably and forever. The moment a station is erected a good will or property right is established, varying from $100,000 to $500,000. A movement is on foot now to put the small broadcaster out of business so that little group can control the broadcasting field in America. It is claimed that a half dozen good stations in any community operating full time will give as much service in quantity, and a far better service in quality, than 18, each on one-third time. If the little group dominates the air, then the problem will be grave, indeed!
Assume for a minute that the right to use the mails of America were to be put in the hands of one group for the purpose of fostering and promoting legislation, what do you suppose that group could do? Don't you suppose they could undermine the Constitution? They could overthrow the Government. They could make, seat, and unseat men. And isn't it high time for Congress to do something to take away from these men an instrument that they are not competent to handle? The use of it in connection with the legislation proves it. Common fairness, if nothing else, would have impelled Mr. Harkness to have said to Mr. Buck:
Mr. Buck, Klugh is getting up a line of talk over the radio in favor of the Dill bill. Buck, if you like to present your side of the story, I will give you the same amount of time and the same facilities.
Representative WEFALD. The charge is also made in some of the letters we get that you discriminate between stations.
Mr. BURKAN. Now, that is an absolute falsehood, made out of whole cloth and absolutely untruthful. The rates for the stations are based upon its power, the nature, character, and extent of the area served, whether it serves a thickly-populated or sparsely-settled community, runs the station to simply advertise its own business, or furnishes its facilities to advertisers for fixed sums per hour.
The proceedings of the conference I refer to are of further interest, because they throw some light on the character and responsibility of some of the broadcasters.
The bill provides for the payment to composers of a fixed fee for each performance of their compositions; for the furnishing by the broadcaster of a monthly report to the composer on the number of times the number was broadcast, and a daily record of the broadcasting of the several songs constituting the program.
It appears that some of these broadcasters are engaged in a species of piracy among themselves—in rebroadcasting programs originating in stations with which they have no connection. Accordingly, committee No. 4 adopted resolutions condemning this practice, as follows:
4. The term “ rebroadcasting was considered as referring to the interception by a broadcasting station of the program transmitted by another station and rebroadcasting the program transmitted from the originating station. It was pointed out that the program feature will ultimately become the most expensive part of a broadcasting station, and that it would be unjust for any station to intercept and rebroadcast programs from originating stations without permission.
The subject of the inability to faithfully rebroadcast the program intercepted from the originating station was also discussed. The committee agreed that the practice of rebroadcasting programs should not be permitted except by and with the consent of the originating station. The following resolution bearing on the subject of rebroadcasting was adopted :
“Resolved, That this conference recommends that rebroadcasting of programs should be prohibited except with the permission of the originating station."