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act to persons connected with any medium primarily engaged in the gathering and dissemination of information.

The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and the Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice, in the reports they are making to your committee on these bills, are recommending against their enactment for the reasons set out herein.

The Bureau of the Budget concurs with the views contained in these reports and recommends against enactment of H. R. 6968 and H. R. 6977. Sincerely yours,

PERCY RAPPAPORT,

1

Assistant Director.

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[H. R. 7249, 84th Cong., 1st sess. ] A BILL To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to increase the penalty for transmitting

false distress signals by radio Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled: That section 325 of the Communications Act of 1934 is amended by redesignating subsections (b) and (c) as (c) and (d) respectively, and by inserting in lieu of subsection (a) thereof the following new subsections:

“(a) Any person who shall knowingly utter or transmit, or cause to be uttered or transmitted, any false or fraudulent signal of distress, or communication relating thereto, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

“(b) No broadcasting station shall rebroadcast the program or any part thereof of another broadcasting station without the express authority of the originating station.”

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION,

Washington, D. C., December 23, 1955.
Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST,
Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN PRIEST: This is in reply to your committee's request for
the Commission's comments concerning H. R. 7249, a bill to amend the Communi-
cations Act of 1934 to increase the penalty for transmitting false distress signals
by radio.

Enclosed are copies of the Commission's comments concerning this proposal. The Commission will be pleased to furnish any further comments or information which your committee may desire. The Bureau of the Budget has informed us that it has no objections to the submission of these comments to your committee. Sincerely yours,

ROSEL H. HYDE, Acting Chairman.

COMMENTS OF THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION ON H. R. 7249, A BILL

TO AMEND THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934 TO INCREASE THE PENALTY FOR
TRANSMITTING FALSE DISTRESS SIGNALS BY RADIO

H. R. 7249 would provide a specific sanction of a maximum fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, for transmitting false distress signals by radio, which is now prohibited by section 325 (a) of the Communications Act. Such sanction, as proposed, would make the offense for such transmission a ony.

The Communications Act of 1934, section 501, as originally enacted made all offenses against the act, including violations of section 325 (a), punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 2 years, or both. As such, this was a felony. Section 501 was amended in 1954 by legislation proposed by the Commission, Public Law 314. This amended section provides for a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 1 year, or both, for first offenders. This makes initial offenses, including violations of section 325 (a), a misdemeanor.

The Commission felt that initial offenses should be punished as misdemeanor because enforcement of section 501 was being made unnecessarily difficult by the

fact that United States attorneys were reluctant to prosecute and juries were reluctant to convict, as a felon, a person guilty of a first violation.

However, the crime involved here is one of the most reprehensible violations of the Communications Act. The commission of such a crime has a serious impact on the safety of life and property both on the sea and in the air. Because of this, the crime should be treated with such seriousness as is commensurate with its effect upon the safety of life and property. In view of this, the Commission has no objection to H. R. 6899.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT,

Washington, December 23, 1955. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Reference is made to the request of your committee for the views of the Treasury Department on H. R. 7249, to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to increase the penalty for transmitting false distress signals by radio.

The purpose of H. R. 7249 is to amend section 325 of the Communications Act of 1934 so as to increase to 10 years the maximum imprisonment penalty for the offense of knowingly uttering or transmitting, or causing to be uttered or transmitted any false or fraudulent signal of distress, or communication relating thereto. An effect of the bill if enacted would be to change the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The Coast Guard is empowered by statute to aid vessels in distress. All vessels traditionally render whatever assistance they can to distressed vessels. The need for prompt action on receipt of a distress call precludes verifying its authenticity before action is taken. A search may be made involving many planes and vessels. Such a search may cost the Government many thousands of dollars. If the distress call turns out to be a hoax the cost of the search is a complete loss to the Government. Moreover, the units committed to the operation may not be available for a bona fide distress case. It can be seen that the transmission of a false distress signal is an act having serious consequences.

The Treasury Department believes that it is desirable to increase the maximum imprisonment for the crime of transmitting a false distress signal in order to give judges the latitude they need in assessing adequate penalties. The Treasury Department favors the enactment of H. R. 7249.

The Department has been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection to the submission of this report to your committee. Very truly yours,

DAVID W. KENDALL, Acting Secretary of the Treasury.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,

BUREAU OF THE BUDGET,

Washington, D. C., December 16, 1955. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in reply to your letter of July 13, 1955, requesting the views of the Bureau of the Budget with respect to H. R. 7249, a bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to increase the penalty for transmitting false distress signals by radio.

H. R. 7249 would provide a specific sanction of a maximum fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, for transmitting false distress signals by radio, which is now prohibited by section 325 (a) of the Communications Act. Such sanction, as proposed, would make the offense for such transmission a felony.

While the Bureau of the Budget is in full accord with the objective of discouraging such crimes, the committee may wish to examine carefully the possibility that the bill might not further that objective.

The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission' in the report he is making to your committee states that the original penalty of $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 2 years, or both, was amended by legislation proposed by

the Commission to a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 1 year, or both, for first offenders. Enforcement was difficult because of a reluctance to prosecute and a reluctance by juries to convict first offenders under the more extreme penalty.

The maximum penalty proposed by H. R. 7249 appears greater than for comparable crimes and might again result in difficulties in the obtaining of convictions. Also under the present law, criminal prosecutions for first offenses may be instituted by information, while the proposed amendment would require that the Government proceed by indictment. Sincerely yours,

PERCY RAPPAPORT,

Assistant Director.

THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE,

Washington, February 1, 1956. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in reply to your request of July 13, 1955, for the views of this Department with respect to H. R. 7249, a bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to increase the penalty for transmitting false distress signals by radio.

H. R. 7249 would increase from 2 to 10 years the maximum prison term for transmitting false distress signals. The present maximum fine of $10,000 would be left unchanged. This Department recommends enactment of H. R. 7249 with an amendment.

It is believed that severe penalties should be imposed for transmitting false distress signals since such signals set in motion costly and often dangerous search and rescue operations, and cause great distress to the families of those erroneously believed to be in danger. The proposed increase in the maximum prison sentence would enable adequate penalties to be imposed in flagrant cases.

However, it is believed that transmission of certain other false radio signals would be comparable in nature to false distress signals and should be subject to the same penalties.

False warnings of impending weather conditions, enemy attack upon the United States, etc., would appear to fall within this category, causing public unrest and perhaps setting in motion dangerous and costly protective activities.

Under 18 United States Code 2074 counterfeiting of weather forecast falsely represented as issued by the Weather Bureau or other Federal agency is punishable by fine of not more than $500 and imprisonment for not more than 90 days. This provision does not appear to impose an adequate penalty in view of the possible consequences, and further applies only if the report is alleged to be official, regardless of the effect it may have.

We recommend therefore that on page 1, line 9, there be inserted after “distress” the words “or warning of public disaster, including but not limited to air raid, flood, tidal wave, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, avalanche, forest fire, or blizzard."

This Department recommends enactment of H. R. 7249 amended as set forth above.

We have been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that it would interpose no objection to the submission of this report to your committee. Sincerely yours,

SINCLAIR WEEKS, Secretary of Commerce.

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE,

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,

Washington, December 22, 1955. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,

House of Representatives. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Reference is made to your request for the comments of the Department of Defense on H. R. 7249, 84th Congress, a bill, to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to increase the penalty for transmitting false signals by radio. The Secretary of Defense has delegated to this Department

the responsibility for expressing the views of the Department of Defense on this proposed legislation.

H. R. 7249 would redesignate existing subsections “(b)” and “(c)” of Section 325 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 USC 325), as subsections “(c)” and “(d)” respectively, and would substitute new subsections “(a)" and "(b)” in lieu of existing subsection “(a)” of Section 325 of the Act. The proposed new subsection “(a)” would make any person who knowingly utters or transmits, or causes to be uttered or transmitted, any false or fraudulent distress signal, subject to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment not more than ten years, or both. The proposed subsection “(b)” would continue the existing bar against a rebroadcast of any part of a program of another broadcasting station, without the express authority of the originating station.

In the past, the military departments have incurred considerable expense and interference with scheduled operations through the diversion of ships and aircraft to answer false distress signals. Enactment of H. R. 7249 should be a strong deterrent to any such future hoax being perpetrated by transmission of false distress signals.

Accordingly, the Department of the Air Force, on behalf of the Department of Defense, strongly supports enactment of H. R. 7249.

The Department of Defense is unable to estimate the fiscal effects of the passage of this proposed legislation.

This report has been coordinated within the Department of Defense in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Secretary of Defense.

The Bureau of the Budget has advised that it has no objection to the submission of this report. Sincerely yours,

DUDLEY C. SHARP, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.

(H. R. 7536, 84th Cong., 1st sess. ]

A BILL To amend the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, so as to require that

certain vessels carrying passengers for hire be fitted with radiotelephone installations Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That title III of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the following new part:

"PART III-RADIO INSTALLATIONS ON VESSELS CARRYING PASSENGERS FOR HIRE

“Sec. 381. Except as provided in section 382, it shall be unlawful for any vessel of the United States, transporting any passenger or passengers for hire, to be navigated in the open sea or on any tidewater within the jurisdiction of the United States adjacent or contiguous to the open sea, unless such ship is equipped with an efficient radiotelephone installation in operating condition. "SEC. 382. The provisions of this part shall not apply to

(1) vessels which are equipped with a radio installation in accordance with the provisions of part II of title III of this Act, or in accordance with the radio requirements of the Safety Convention; and

“(2) vessels of the United States belonging to and operated by the Government, except a ship of the United States Maritime Administration, the Inland

and Coastwise Waterways Service, or the Panama Railroad Company. "SEC. 383. The Commission may exempt from the provisions of this part, any ship or class of ships, if it considers that the route or condition of the voyage, or other circumstances, are such as to render a radio installation unreasonable, unnecessary, or ineffective, for the purposes of this Act.

“Sec. 384. The Commission shall have authority for any ship subject to this part

(1) to specify operating and technical conditions and characteristics including frequencies, emissions, power, communication capability and range, of installations required by reason of this part;

“(2) to approve the details as to the location and manner of installation of the equipment required by this part or of equipment necessitated by reason of the purposes and requirements of this part;

“(3) to approve installations, apparatus and spare parts necessary to comply with the purposes and requirements of this part;

76974-564

(4) to prescribe such additional equipment as may be determined to be necessary to supplement that specified herein for the proper functioning of the radio installation installed in accordance with this part or for the proper

conduct of radio communication in time of emergency or distress. “SEC. 385. The Commission shall make such inspections as may be necessary to insure compliance with the requirements of this part.

“SEC. 386. The following forfeitures shall apply to this part in addition to penalties and forfeitures provided by title V of this Act:

“(a) Any vessel of the United States that is navigated in violation of the provisions of this part or of the rules and regulations o: the Commission made in pursuance thereof shall forefeit to the United States the sum of $500 recoverable by way of suit or libel. Each day during which such navigation occurs shall constitute a separate offense.

“(b) Every willful failure on the part of the master of a vessel of the United States to enforce or to comply with the provisions of t'iis part or the rules and regulations of the Commission made in pursuance thereof shall cause him to forfeit to the United States the sum of $100."

SEC. 2. Section 504 (b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, is amended by deleting “part II of ttile III and section 507”, and inserting in lieu thereof "parts II and III of title III and section 507".

SEC. 3. Section 3 (y) (2) is amended by deleting “part II of title III" and inserting in lieu thereof “parts II and III of title III".

SEC. 4. The amendments made herein shall take effect June 1, 1956.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT,

Washington, February 6, 1956. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Reference is made to the request of your committee for the views of the Treasury Department on H. R. 7536, to amend the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, so as to require that certain vessels carrying passengers for hire be fitted with radiotelephone installations.

The purpose of the bill is to require any vessel of the United States, with certain exceptions, transporting any passenger or passengers for hire, navigating in the open sea or on any tidewater within the jurisdiction of the United States adjacent or continguous to the open sea, to be equipped with an efficient radiotelephone installation in operating condition. The bill would authorize the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the radiotelephone equipment and its operation. The bill provides for penalties for failure to comply with its requirements.

The Treasury Department does not have primary administrative responsibility for regulation of radio equipment on vessels. However, the Department does, through the Coast Guard, have a deep interest in the improvement of maritime safety. It is considered that the requirements of the bill if enacted would result in greater maritime safety. The installation of radiotelephone equipment would permit more rapid handling of radio communications in the event of a distress incident at sea.

While the Bureau of the Budget has advised that there would be no objection to the submission of this report, it has further stated that it believes that a statutory provision limiting the coverage of the bill, similar to that in existing law, would be desirable in the interests of minimizing costs and expediting administration. Very truly yours,

DAVID W. KENDALL, Acting Secretary of the Treasury.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,

BUREAU OF BUDGET,

Washington, D. C., January 31, 1956. Hon. J. PERCY PRIEST, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in reply to your letter of July 25, 1955, requesting the views of this office with respect to H. R. 7536, a bill to amend the

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