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Mr. DORN. I would think that possibly some warning might scare a community by saying that a hurricane was coming in that direction rather than in some other direction. I suppose that has happened. I do not know.
Mr. HINSHAW. Well, now, let us look at that for just a little bit, because the amateur radio people have been of great assistance in connection with hurricanes and not always is the information available to them accurately, but their intentions are good and if they should receive some bad information and pass it out over the air, I do not think that the “hams” should be condemned for it and made liable for it, or that the "hams” ought to be condemned for it and made liable for it by any fines or imprisonment or anything of that sort.
You are going to have to put up a better argument than I can think of so far to support that part of the bill.
Mr. HARRIS. Will the gentleman yield on that?
Mr. HARRIS. I think we can take the report of the agencies involved and resolve that point at the proper time.
I think the gentleman has raised a very important question here and certainly something that should be carefully considered.
Are there any further questions?
Mr. HALE. I just want to comment not on this bill but in connection with other legislation that we have been hearing.
I read in the newspaper this morning the story of a man who was indicted in Maryland for taking an unseaworthy vessel to sea and getting caught in hurricane Connie. One of the allegations in the indictment was the lack of a ship-to-shore telephone, which has a material bearing on the legislation introduced by
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Macdonald.
Mr. HARRIS. We have with us this morning Mr. Robert Heald, representing the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters.
Mr. Fellows, president of this association, advised the chairman a few days ago that they would not be able to attend the session last week and requested to be heard today.
We are glad to grant this request and we are glad to have you here on behalf of the Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters. We shall be glad to have you comment on any of these bills.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT L. HEALD, CHIEF ATTORNEY, NATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF RADIO & TELEVISION BROADCASTERS
Mr. HEALD. Thank you.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Heald, may I inquire, did you take the position that was held by Mr. Hardy?
Mr. HEALD. No, I took the position that was held by Mr. Wasilewski. Unfortunately, however, Mr. Wasilewski is in Denver and is unable to appear.
Mr. HARRIS. Well, I was just trying to get the personnel of your organization. We have in the past have had association with many members of the group. I recall that this committee had the entire group with us at hearings on a special resolution in the 82d Congress, I believe. Mr. Fellows was a member of the board at that time.
I wonder if you could tell us for our information if the same members are still active members of the board or if you have some new members.
Mr. HEALD. We have some new members of the board. The elections come up every 2 years.
Mr. HARRIS. I think it would be helpful for the record and for the members of this committee if you would give us the names of the board at this time, if you have that information.
Mr. HEALD. No, sir. I can give you the names of a lot of the members. The members of the board constitute 44 people. The members of the staff, of course, are a different matter.
Mr. HARRIS. Could you supply the names of the members of the board and their addresses, and then the members of the committee that you have set up as an interworking committee of the board, if that is right?
Mr. HEALD. No, we have a member of board of directors a governing body of the association, and then of course we have the officers of the association, and the staff of the association. We will be glad to submit a list for the committee's information.
Mr. HARRIS. I think it will be helpful.
(The information referred to is as follows:) BOARD OF DIRECTORS, 1955–56, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RADIO & TELEVISION
President-chairman, Harold E. Fellows, NARTB; secretary-treasurer, C. E. Arney, Jr., NARTB.
District 1: Herbert L. Krueger, WTAG, Worcester, Mass., 1957.
DIRECTORS AT LARGE Large stations
John M. Outler, WSB, Atlanta, Ga., 1957; John F. Patt, WJR, Detroit, Mich., 1956.
1 Indicates, in accordance with bylaws not eligible for reelection in 1956.
Cecil B. Hoskins, WWNC, Asheville, N. C., 1957; J. Frank Jarman, WDNC, Durham, N. C., 1956. Small stations
F. Ernest Lackey, WHOP, Hopkinsville, Ky., 1957; Lester L. Gould, KFMA, Davenport, Iowa, 1956. FM stations
Edward A Wheeler, WEAW, Evanston, Ill., 1957; H. Quenton Cox, KQFM, Portland, Oreg., 1956. Network
Don Durgin, ABC-Radio, New York, N. Y., 1957; Arthur Hull Hayes, CBSRadio, New York, N. Y., 1957 ; John B. Poor, MBS, New York, N. Y., 1957; Charles R. Denny, NBC-Radio, New York, N. Y., 1957.
Joseph E. Baudino, Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., Washington, D. C., 1956.
Ward L. Quaal, WLW-TV, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1957.
Ernest Lee Jahncke, Jr., ABC-TV, New York, N. Y., 1957; Merle S. Jones, CBS-TV, New York, N. Y., 1957 ; Frank M. Russell, NBC-TV, Washington, D. C., 1957.
DIRECTORY OF PERSONNEL
President, Harold E. Fellows; Howard H. Bell, assistant to the president, and State association coordinator; Florence Mitchell, administrative assistant.
Secretary-treasurer, C. E. Arney, Jr.; Ella Nelson, administrative assistant; Adeline Macloskie, assistant.
Vice president for radio, John F. Meagher; Thomas B. Coulter, assistant. Vice president for television, Thad H. Brown, Jr.; Dan W. Shields, assistant. Auditing, William L. Walker.
Employer-Employee Relations, Charles H. Tower, manager; James H. Hulbert, assistant manager; Harold Ross, labor economist; Leona Schalk, assistant.
Engineering, A. Prose Walker, manager; George L. Bartlett, assistant manager. Government relations, Vincent T. Wasilewski, manager. Legal, Robert L. Heald, chief attorney; Walter R. Powell, Jr., attorney. Organizational services, Frederick H. Garrigus, manager. Production, LaRue M. Courson, manager.
Publicity and Informational Services, Joseph M. Sitrick, manager; Wallace E. Hutton, promotional manager; Sally Kean, publications editor; Patricia Kielty, special project editor. Research, Richard M. Allerton, manager; Louise K. Aldrich, librarian.
Station relations, Jack Barton, manager; William Carlisle, field representative; Al King, field representative.
Television code affairs, Edward H. Bronson, director; Charles Cady, assistant.
Mr. HARRIS. You may proceed with your statement.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Robert L. Heald. I am chief attorney for the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters. As of February 1, 1956, the member
ship of this association included 1,261 standard-broadcast radio stations, 324 FM radio stations, 277 television stations, 4 radio networks and 3 television networks. I am appearing today to present the views of the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters in support of H. R. 4814, which was introduced by Congressman Miller of Maryland.
H. R. 4814 would add a new provision to section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934 to relieve a licensee of a broadcast station, his agent and employee, of civil liability in any court for any defamatory statement made by a legally qualified candidate for public office. An exception is made to this freedom from liability in the event the licenseeparticipates in such broadcast willfully, knowingly, and with intent to defame.
This is an amendment which the broadcasters of this Nation have long advocated and which is necessary if the congressional objective of section 315 is to be completely accomplished. As you know, section 315 of the Communications Act now prohibits licensees from censoring political broadcasts. The Federal Communications Commission, in the Port Huron case, has held that a broadcaster's censorship or rejection of a political speech in order to delete defamatory matter is a violation of section 135 and may result in the loss of his license. The Commission also stated that, in its opinion, section 315 relieves the licensee of a broadcast station from liability under State law for the broadcast of defamatory matter contained in political speeches. This decision was contrary to the rulings of many State courts which held that the fact that the defamatory remarks were made in a political broadcast was no defense to an action of defamation. For instance, the Supreme Court of Nebraska had held that the prohibition against censorship was concerned only with "words as to their political and partisan trend.” While the Nebraska case was decided in 1932, the principle enunciated there has, by no means, disappeared. In 1954, a New Hampshire lower court stated that:
This court, therefore, is of the opinion that, even if the censorship provision applied to the case at bar, it would prevent only the censorship of words as to their "political and partisan trend" and not the censorship of material which would subject the station to liability for libel or slander.
The same court specifically referred to the Federal Communications Commission's ruling in the Port Huron case, and stated that it was not bound by a ruling of an administrative agency with respect to the meaning of an act of Congress.
Since only the Supreme Court of the United States can finally determine whether section 315 of the Communications Act circumscribes the operation of State law with respect to defamation by radio, broadcasters are now on the horns of a dilemma. On one hand, they are subject to loss of their licenses if they do not permit the broadcast of defamatory matter in political broadcasts by legally qualified candidates; on the other hand, they may be subject to liability under State law if they do permit the broadcast of defamatory matter in political broadcasts. Legislation is the only practical means of removing this dilemma.
This association has always supported State legislation of this type and at the present time 36 States have adopted legislation that lessens the chance of a broadcaster being held liable for defamation which
under the Federal Communications Commission's rulings, he is powerless to keep off the air. Unfortunately, some of these statutes do not completely solve the broadcaster's problem. Moreover, State remedial action is slow and will never be effective until identical statutes are adopted by all 48 States. Federal legislation is the only practical remedy.
I have a statement on the other bill which I will be glad to go ahead with-whatever you like.
Mr. HARRIS. I think perhaps if you do not mind we would prefer to conclude any questions that committee members may have now on H. R. 4814 to complete the record on that particular subject.
Mr. HINSHAW. Mr. Chairman, I think that the evidence submitted on behalf of NARTB to the effect that State laws are adequate is important so far as their being held for damages is concerned.
But, of course, the State laws cannot affect the issuance of license or revocation of license in any way, as I understand it.
Mr. HEALD. That is correct, except that a conviction is considered by the Commission, conviction of any law.
Mr. HINSHAW. A conviction might be considered, but certainly in this particular type of case it would be hard to prove such conviction against a party; would it not?
Mr. HEALD. That is correct, sir.
Mr. HINSHAW. I am particularly interested in it as I know all of my colleagues are, because there are ways of getting around these cases of defamation, and I think that the Communist group has been most successful in their type of statements which are to the effect that if such-and-such a person is not such-and-such a dirty name, whatever it is, then what is he? They say they have not defamed anyone. They have just said if he is not a so-and-so what is he?
There are various ways of getting around it.
And I think that the broadcaster should have some kind of control. For instance, the broadcaster should have some control in selling time to a person who makes defamatory remarks concerning particularly a candidate for public office and should have the right, without suit, I think, of taking such a statement off the air at once in their own protection. He does not want his station to become known as a station which permits such things. And in the public mind, I think that the broadcasting station has a certain responsibility for permitting such statements to be made.
Of course they can get on the air, as they always do, and say that they are not responsible for any of the truck that might be put out on the air, because it is a political broadcast. Just the same there is a certain responsibility in the public mind for it.
Now, I do not believe that the amendment of this act would give the broadcasting station the right, without penalty, for shutting off the air or refusing the air to a person who would do a thing of that sort. Is that true?
Mr. HEALD. That is my understanding. It does not change the responsibility for censorship.
Mr. HINSHAW. It would not give the broadcaster that right.
Mr. HINSHAW. I think there is a very fine line to be drawn there somewhere, and I think that we ought to try to draw it, Mr. Chair