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court's final judgment, if the only basis upon which the court can override is to find that there was no evidence—no substantial evidence—that the Commission was arbitrary or the Commission was capricious in its action.
I did not intend to say anything at this time. A lot more that could be said. The Commission itself, when it was here, or at least the General Counsel of the Commission, as I understood it, admitted that he did not know whether this was a unanimous opinion of the Commission. My recollection is that he stated that there might have been one dissent, and then later stated there may have been one person absent. Mr. Beamer has brought out the fact that since 1952, in April, there have been 12 cases. I think he is correct in his analysis of that. In ten of those cases, the newspaper applicant has been denied his application. In two instances—the Florida cases—he has been granted the applications.
I requested the Commission to furnish a brief of what had happened since 1952 because I think it has a bearing on whether we have an obligation to legislate. As I understand it, that has not been furnished. I asked the clerk about it a few minutes ago. Once it is furnished, I would like an opportunity to revise and extend in terms of what they have said.
To go back to what I said, I have no interest in anybody. My sole interest is, is this a fair proposition. I agree with the principle of diversification. I agree that there should be no monopoly. Monopoly was dragged in by the heels when I questioned about the McClatchy
Some intimation was made that somebody involved in that was convicted under one of our antitrust laws. Maybe so. I cannot find any reference to it in the January 1956 Commission decision in the Tampa case, a more recent case. But I do insist that there is a basic question of policy involved, and with all due respect to the Commission, I do not believe that this subcommittee, the full committee or the House should overlook the fact that they attempted to cure a situation they felt needed curing back in 1952, when the Commission, as I recall it, protested nothing need be done because it had a principle that it was following that did not involve any discrimination.
Now, as far as I can determine it, that is just a pious principle, and the sheer fact is that there is discrimination, and there will continue to be discrimination unless Congress sees fit to speak.
The Commission does not want Congress to speak. I think their reasons are obvious.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much. You may have the privilege to revise and extend your remarks. When we get into executive session, we will have the privilege of further discussion among ourselves.
Mr. HESELTON. Thank you.
Mr. HARRIS. We are very glad to welcome to this committee at this time the Honorable Paul M. Butler, chairman of the National Democratic Committee.
Mr. Butler, we are glad to have you here. We appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to come to this committee and indicate your interest in one of these bills proposed to amend the Federal Communications Act of 1934, H.R. 6810.
There has been a great deal of interest that has been manifested thus far in this proposal and you indicated your willingness and desire to come, and we were very glad that you did. So we are glad to have you with us at this time.
STATEMENT OF PAUL M. BUTLER, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC
NATIONAL COMMITTEE Mr. BUTLER. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the words of welcome, and the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee. I have prepared a statement of our views concerning this proposed bill, and I think perhaps in the interest of time, I proceed with it now.
Mr. HARRIS. You may proceed, sir.
Mr. BUTLER. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Paul M. Butler. I am chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I am appearing today to record, with certain reservations, the Democratic National Committee's support of H. R. 6810. This bill would exclude from the equal time provisions of section 315 (a) of the Communications Act appearances by legally qualified candidates on news, news interview, news documentary, panel discussion, debate or similar type radio and television programs, controlled by broadcasting stations or networks.
In theory, section 315 (a), as it stands, is supposed to provide fair and equal political discussion on the air, but in practice it has not worked out that way. If anything, it has tended to inhibit such discussion, for the equal time concept has been imposed so literally as to defeat itself.
Under existing legislation and FCC directives, the radio and television industry is permitted no discretion or flexibility in carrying out its obligation to insure equal time for political candidates. It not only must provide equal time for the candidates of the two major parties, but also for all other candidates, no matter how frivolous they may be. Thus, confronted with the demands of not 2 or 3 or even 4 candidates, but possibly as many as a dozen, the industry finds itself in an impossible position. Since it is impractical to put all of the candidates on the air, the end result is to put none on. This, of course, is against the public interest. We need an informed public, and we ought to encourage and help the radio and television industry to do its part.
If the proposed amendment is approved, I feel certain that, for most networks and most local television and radio stations, it will be an incentive for these broadcasters to expand their election year activity. I feel confident that most of the network programs affected by this legislation would objectively and honestly present the leading candidates and issues of the major parties. I am sure that we could expect added coverage on newscasts, more extensive broadcasting of campaign activity from the scattered origination points throughout the country, and, in general, a vastly greater and improved effort at informing the American voter of all phases of the 1956 campaigns.
This I would expect from the majority of the Nation's broadcasters.
But what of the minority-the sponsor of a network news program, or a discussion forum, "with an axe to grind", or the local station owner who sees in this amendment “an out” to load his regu
larly scheduled programs with guests from one party? Such instances could occur.
Mr. Richard Salant, vice president of the Columbia Broadcasting System, who appeared before this committee in support of the amendment stated that a powerful safeguard against such one-sidedness would be provided by the listeners and viewers who regard radio and television as part of their personal lives. Mr. Salant said that broadcasters could not long survive the public ill will, which such favoritism could justifiably create.
I agree that such justice would eventually result. But a campaign is short. Persons who would try to misuse this amendment, if approved, are shrewd. Their one-sidedness at first might go unnoticed. In fact, the furor of the public over such a stacking of programs might not mount to the point of remedial action until the end of the campaign. It could be too late. The election could be over, the privileged candidate elected, and the "blacked out" victim left wondering as to the advisability of having amended section 315 (a).
I realize such incidents, caused by unfair and unscrupulous persons, would be in the minority. But they could be extremely damaging if permitted to take place, say, in certain key marginal areas. I believe, if changes are to be made in section 315 (a) that provisions must also be included to make certain there is no abuse, in any area, of this proposed amendment.
Perhaps such safeguards could come from the industry itself, in a strongly.worded, dedicated code, with enforcement among its members, and others, guaranteed by such an organization as the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters.
Perhaps it would be still better to include in this amendment a guaranty of equal time for all candidates of the major political parties, who would appear on programs excepted from section 315 (a), under the provisions of H. R. 6810.
I am sure this can be done with reasonable protection for established minority parties and also for new parties which may emerge on the national scene. They, too, have a right to be seen and heard.
For the purpose of deciding which parties would be entitled to equal time, perhaps some system such as that mentioned in a June 13, 1955, editorial in the Washington Post, could be worked out. This proposal would insure equality to parties which had polled, say, 1 million votes each in the last presidential election, or that could muster 200,000 or 300,000 signatures on a petition. Still another test would be a minimum percentage of the last presidential vote.
As the Post editorial stated, in this way the public interest for parties with a national following could be met without placing frivolous candidates on a par with the Democrats and Republicans.
I am not personally committed to any specific formula, but I hope very much that one can be found to carry out the aims I have described.
I favor the enactment of H. R. 6810, with the amendments suggested.
As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, I am appearing here today to register, with some reservations, our support of this bill, H. R. 6810. There are two particulars in which the bill should be revised before passage.
No. 1 is that if we are to remove the restrictions as to equal time, so as to permit the networks and broadcasting stations to give to the major political parties of the country some free time in the campaigns,
particularly along the line suggested by Dr. Frank Stanton, the president of CBS, for a debate between the presidential nominees of the major political parties, that there ought to be some provision in the bill still to protect both or all, if there are more than two major political parties at any given time, being exempted from the provisions of section 315 (a). In other words, if the 2 major political parties of today are to be exempted, then we think that the networks and the broadcasting stations and television stations should not be free to discriminate as between the 2 and give either 1 of the 2 more time than it gives to the other. In other words, that the equality of representation and time on the networks or on a given station should be maintained.
I believe Mr. Salant, a vice president of CBS appeared before the committee last week, and indicated that this would be a sort of selfpolicing proposition, and that the networks themselves, and the broadcasting stations would suffer in public opinion if they were to give either party representatives more time than the other.
A campaign could very well be fought and concluded, and the election won by one party before the reaction would be felt by either a network or by a station which had given more free time under this amendment if it is enacted than to the other party. We think that some very simple phrase could be added to the bill as it now stands before this committee which would give precisely equal time to both of the major political parties in this kind of an arrangement.
The second amendment we would like to suggest is that we have two major political parties now, which on the basis of their vote for President of the United States are far and away above the other 16 parties which had presidential candidates in the campaign of 1952. I asked a very prominent Member of the Congress this morning--perhaps I should not disclose the identity of the gentleman-if he knew how many candidates for President there were in 1952. He did not know. When I told him that there were 18, he was amazed, as I was amazed some months ago when I found it out for the first time.
But in any event, there may come a time when a third political party may become of major proportions. I think rather than leave it to the networks or to the broadcasing stations themselves as to what are the major political parties, which would be exempted from this section 315 (a), by the passage of H. R. 6810, that we could very well suggest writing into this bill a provision such as was suggested in the Washington Post and Times Herald in its editorial of June 15, 1955, if I recall the date correctly, in which it suggested that a political party that had obtained a million votes in the last presidential election, or that could now produce petitions signed by anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 voters-people representing themselves to be voters—would be entitled to be considered a major political party for the benefits accruing under this proposed amendment.
I think a safer method of amendment would be to provide that a party to be considered as a major political party should have received at least a certain fixed minimum percentage of the total vote cast for President in the last presidential election.
If those amendments were to be made, our party certainly wants to be on record supporting the passage of this bill.
I think that would conclude my formal remarks.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you, Mr. Butler, for your very fine and clear statement on a very highly involved and technical as well as important subject.
Mr. Williams, do you have any questions? Mr. WILLIAMS. In regard to the last amendment that you suggested, which would require a party to establish itself on the basis of its record in the preceding election, that would have prevented the Thurmond-Wright ticket from having any radio time in 1948, and yet they received 39 electoral votes?
Mr. BUTLER. Not necessarily, Mr. Williams. If the percentage were fixed for a number of petitioners, too, rather than referring back to a percentage of people who voted for that party in the last Presidential election. I should have made that clear, which I don't believe I did.
My point would be that a party in 1956 could qualify as a major party if it had had a certain fixed percentage of the vote in 1952, or if now it presents petitions signed by a certain fixed percentage in the aggregate of the voters in the Presidential election of 1956.
I would leave to the discrimination of the committee and the Congress, certainly, as all of us citizens must, the determination as to what that percentage should be.
Mr. WILLIAMS. Is it your suggestion that in the event a party should so establish itself under the definition which you suggested for the bill, it would be in a position to demand equal time along with the Democratic and Republican parties?
Mr. BUTLER. Yes; it is certainly that. In other words, there is no position of security that either the Republican or Democratic Party should have when the power of these two parties and the strength and popular appeal of these two parties is, shall I say, challenged by an up and coming party.
I have in mind particularly two things in order to answer your question. One is the movement in the South which we in the Democratic Party have felt at various times, and also, I think the liberal movement in the State of New York, which has been a factor in some Presidential elections. I think that the safeguards should be thrown around this bill so that other parties which may at one time or another in the history of our country represent a substantial number of our fellow citizens and qualified voters be protected under the provisions of this new idea of Dr. Stanton.
Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. Butler, do you have any suggestions to make with regard to insuring that both sides of a controversial subject should
be presented, as well as candidates on opposing sides? Mr. BUTLER. You mean on both sides? Not on any given program. Just a simple provision or statement assuring equality of time to both of the major political parties. For instance, as we point out in this statement, a given panel discussion program might present a series of members of one party presenting their views, and never once take the representatives of the other party. Before public reaction would have time to set in, the convention would be over, and maybe in that particular Territory or State the effect of the coverage of that particular program would have been felt in the election and be decisive.
Mr. WILLIAMS. I was not thinking so much of the conventions or the candidates' positions with respect to issues, but on matters pending before Congress, such as the gas bill, which was passed yesterday.