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Mr. MACDONALD. Yes, sir. The present cost is roughly as I tried to indicate. You can't get an absolutely fixed figure, but the figure I was given was somewhere between $450, which is the lowest price quoted, up to $650 or $700 for this radio ship-to-shore communication.
Mr. HALE. I am very much interested in this legislation. Because I live on an island in Casco Bay outside of Portland, where we are dependent for our existence on a small steamer which goes back and forth, which we have to subsidize heavily as it is. And we would have to subsidize it quite a lot more if we provided this equipment. The steamer is never more than a half a mile from the shore. It is a landlocked journey. And our bay is full of islands served by steamers under very similar circumstances.
Mr. MACDONALD. Yes, I understand my distinguished colleague's interest, because my distinguished colleague is my summer Congressman, in York, Maine. I know of your interest in this problem.
I point out that in the bill, in section 383, is a provision which would cover such a situation as yours, which is not the type of boat that I am aiming this bill at.
Mr. HALE. You would think that it was not necessary to equip these small boats in such a manner?
Mr. MACDONALD. Well, if it is land-locked and it is a reputable man, who makes the trip 4 or 5 times a day and has done it for years, as I am sure I know the type very well, he could do it with his eyes closed, in the fog, and so forth, unless a real emergency arose that would be unforeseeable. And I don't really know. It would be up to the Commission to determine, after investigation, whether or not that would be necessary. And that is why I was about to read you this section of the act.
Mr. HALE. I am just as much in favor of safety of life at sea as anybody. But of course, you do have the practical approach.
Mr. MACDONALD. I quite agree. That is why this section is in here which states that the commissionmay exempt from the provisions of this part, any ship or class of ships, if it considers that the route or conditions of the voyage, or other circumstances, are such as to render a radio installation unreasonible, unnecessary, or ineffective, for the purposes of this Act. So I think that would cover your situation.
Mr. HALE. I just wanted to see how far your idea went.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Is it possible for this situation to be met by the laws of Massachusetts or Maine or the coastal States, as the case may be, by a licensing procedure ?
Mr. MACDONALD. Yes, sir, the State can control, as you know, and the Federal Government doesn't really come into the picture until, as you who voted on tidelands know, there was a big controversy concerning how far out the Federal Government controlled of the shoreline.
Mr. HARRIS. In Texas and some other places.
Mr. MACDONALD. I don't know about New England. I know in California and Texas they have a little different viewpoint-Louisiana, too. Usually it is 3 miles, and this bill actually goes to boats which would be under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard. And of course, there is not a conflict of interest, because in Massachusetts,
for a concrete example, the State operates the ferry that comes in to New Bedford and out to Martha's Vineyard. So there is a great interplay between the State and Federal authorities. But it seems to me that the Federal Government has the overall jurisdiction, and to set up certain standards, you then get into–I don't know how many coastal States there are, perhaps 16 or so, and there might be 16 different standards that might have to be met.
I think in the interest of clarity the Federal Government should do it. Whether or not the States could license, I am not quite clear.
Mr. DOLLIVER. It seems to me there was an area where State action might be effective in this field, where a license for carrying passengers on these summer excursions might be denied unless certain equipment were had on board the vessels. And you agree, as I understand it, that that procedure is possible, although you do not recommend it.
Mr. MACDONALD. Actually, I suppose, I guess I should refer that to the General Counsel of the FCC. I am not that expert as to where the Federal jurisdiction lies.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Just one other short question I would like to ask: What is the actual situation with respect to the reliability of a radiotelephone? I have had some observations and information with respect to intercontinental radiotelephone, which indicates that there is very often in stormy times a great deal of difficulty in getting communications, because of weather interferences. Now, do you have anything to say to the committee in that respect!
Mr. MACDONALD. I can just say to the committee, in my experience, that radio ship-to-shore communication, as I tried to indicate, is as simple and as trustworthy as the phone in your own house. As to intercontinental, I don't know. I have never used it at any great length. But for cruising purposes, and so forth, the ship-to-shore communication is very accurate, indeed.
Mr. DOLLIVER. Isn't it a fact that the communication processes of radiotelegraph are fairly simple, but radiotelephone is a considerably more complex operation from an engineering and scientific standpoint ?
Mr. MACDONALD. Once again I will have to plead ignorance.
Mr. DOLLIVER. I think that is of some importance in connection with this measure. Because do we not already have safeguards as far as radiotelegraph is concerned with respect to coatwise and oceangoing steamships?
Mr. MACDONALD. Yes, sir.
Mr. DOLLIVER. And this goes into the radiotelephonic field, as I understand you.
Mr. MACDONALD. Right.
Mr. ROGERS. I want to commend you on your presentation of a possible solution to a very difficult problem.
You speak of these people coming into the cities off the farms and just renting boats over the weekend. Couldn't Massachusetts through their legislature control that insofar as carrying passengers on boats? Couldn't they prohibit those people from making a public conveyance out of their boats unless they have met certain requirements?
Mr. MACDONALD. I should think they could.
Mr. ROGERS. Have they done that, or are they doing that to any extent?
Mr. MACDONALD. If they are doing it, the administration and inspection of it—if there is such a law on the books; and I don't believe there is-would be, as you can see, very difficult, especially taking the whole coast. Because every cove has two or three people that are spaced, as Mr. Hale well knows in his very district, Agunquit and York and York Harbor. There are any number of these people, some of them very reputable indeed and some of them not. There just is not any inspection or licenses to be given, as you do even driving an automobile. You can just get on a boat and take people out, and that is it. And that is actually what they do. As an old States righter myself, Mr. Rogers, I am sure the State could but so far hasn't.
Mr. ROGERS. I was wondering if there was any provision in maritime law that would control those people in the use of their boats as public conveyances.
Mr. HALE. The laws now require anybody who carries a passenger for hire on a boat to furnish life preservers up to the number of passengers that he carries, and so on, and the enforcement of that law is left to the Coast Guard. And while some people may evade the law successfully for a period, I think the enforcement is fairly good.
Mr. ROGERS. Thank you, sir. Mr. HARRIS. May I inquire, Mr. Macdonald, if your bill is identical with the one introduced by our colleague, Mr. O'Neill?
Mr. MACDONALD. Mr. O'Neill and I introduced jointly an earlier bill which was identical. We did that, I think, back in June, right after that Pilgrim Belle thing, which really got us started. And thereafter, I talked to the FCC people, and I changed my bill around a little bit, and whether Mr. O'Neill did or not, I don't know.
Mr. BROWNSTEIN (Irving Brownstein, Federal Communications Commission). H. R. 7789, which was introduced by Mr. O'Neill on August 1, is identical with H. R. 7536.
Mr. MACDONALD. Thank you for that information.
We appreciate having your statement in connection with this legislation.
Mr. MACDONALD. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Commissioner, we regret that we have detained you. I wonder if it would be too much of an imposition if you and Mr. Baker would come back tomorrow at 10 o'clock.
Mr. WEBSTER. I am always at your service when I am in town. I will be here at 10 o'clock.
Mr. HARRIS. Very well. We will resume then, in order that you may give the Commission's comments on the rest of these bills.
Is Mr. Salant here?
Mr. SALANT (Richard S. Salant, vice president, Columbia Broadcasting System, New York, N. Y.). Yes, sir.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Salant, could you be here tomorrow? I think if you would, we would be glad to have your testimony following the completion of the Commission's testimony.
Mr. SALANT. Thank you very much.
Mr. HARRIS. The committee will adjourn until tomorrow morning. And I think we had better make the time 10:15 a.m.
(Whereupon, at 12 o'clock noon, the subcommittee adjourned, to reconvene at 10:15 a. m., Thursday, February 2, 1956.)
COMMUNICATIONS ACT AMENDMENTS
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1956
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10:15 a. m., in room 1334, New House Office Building, Hon. Oren Harris (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. HARRIS. The committee will come to order.
When the committee adjourned yesterday I believe it was understood that Commissioner Webster was to return this morning to complete analysis and comments of the remaining bills scheduled for hearing, in order that we may have the views of the Commission.
Commissioner, we are glad to have you back again and we shall endeavor to expedite this proceeding a little bit more than we have in the last day or two. We know that you are a very busy man, too.
I believe you have the General Counsel here with you again who will, I am sure, assist you with any matters that you should like to refer to him.
STATEMENTS OF HON. EDWARD M. WEBSTER, COMMISSIONER; HON.
ROBERT E. LEE, COMMISSIONER; AND HAROLD G. COWGILL CHIEF, COMMON CARRIER BUREAU, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Mr. WEBSTER. Commissioner Lee is also here.
Mr. HARRIS. Yes; I just spoke with Commissioner Lee. We hope to get to him also.
Mr. WEBSTER. In connection with the other problems.
Mr. HARRIS. Yesterday when the committee adjourned we had just heard our colleague, a member of this committee, Mr. Macdonald, in behalf of his bill, H. R. 7536 and a companion bill of Mr. O'Neill, H. R. 7709. I believe you were to start this morning by giving the Commission's views on these proposals.
Mr. WEBSTER. Mr. Chairman, I have no prepared statement. The Commission filed its comments under date of July 29, 1955, addressed to Chairman Priest. I have a copy which I will hand to the reporter. I take for granted it will be inserted in the record.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Commissioner, is that number 22109? The reason I ask is that the copy I have here was adopted July 27, 1955.