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Mr. HARRIS. There are some questions that some members of the committee have regarding the statement you just made. Would you want Commissioner Webster to answer those questions? Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. No, sir. You mean on newspapers ? Mr. HARRIS. On the statement that you have just made.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. Sir, the General Counsel could answer questions on the statement I just made.
Mr. HARRIS. In other words, if Commissioner Webster comes back and takes the witness chair, then any questions directed to him that he would like to refer to the General Counsel would be the procedure that you would want?
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. That is what we would appreciate, because Commissioner Webster is skilled as an engineer on these other bills, and the General Counsel on what I have testified to. Yes; that is what I would appreciate.
Mr. HARRIS. I wanted to get a clear understanding of the procedure when we come back.
Mr. MoCONNAUGHEY. Yes, sir.
Mr. HARRIS. In addition to that, Mr. Hinshaw, a member of this committee, called to my attention House Joint Resolutions 138 and 139 that he and I introduced last year. If Commissioner Webster could give us a report on the problem of the height of towers for these radio and television stations, we would be glad to have that. I know for a fact that he is capable and qualified to discuss that situation.
Mr. McCONNAUGHEY. He most assuredly is.
Mr. HARRIS. Since they were not included in the list of bills that were sent down to you, I wanted to make that announcement to you.
Commissioner, if you think that you would not be ready by tomorrow, we would try to give you another date. We don't want to be rushing you too much.
Mr. WEBSTER. I would prefer not to be rushed on the tower situation. Commissioner Lee has been working on that problem with other Government organizations, and so forth, and I would have to familiarize myself with a number of points in regard to it. If you could put it off, I would appreciate it very much. That is, either I can do it or Commissioner Lee.
Mr. HARRIS. We will try to arrange a satisfactory program.
(Whereupon, at 12:10 p. m., a recess was taken until Wednesday, February 1, 1956, at 10 a, m.)
COMMUNICATIONS ACT AMENDMENTS
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1956
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., in room 1302, New House Office Building, Hon. Oren Harris (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. HARRIS. The committee will come to order.
Yesterday at the conclusion of the hearings in connection with proposed amendments to the Federal Communications Act, the Chairman of the Commission had just concluded his statement in behalf of the Commission in reference to H. R. 6977, which I introduced, and H. R. 6968, introduced by our colleague, Mr. Beamer of Indiana. Mr. Beamer is a member of this committee.
The General Counsel, I believe, is here this morning to answer questions on behalf of the Commission which the committee might have on this subject. I believe that is right, is it not, Commissioner Webster?
STATEMENTS OF HON. EDWARD M. WEBSTER, COMMISSIONER, AND WARREN BAKER, GENERAL COUNSEL, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Mr. WEBSTER. That is right.
Mr. HARRIS. Suppose both of you come around.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Beamer, of this committee, has some questions he wants to ask and we are glad to recognize Mr. Beamer at this time.
Mr. BEAMER. Mr. Chairman, I thank you on behalf of myself and Mr. Heselton, and those of us who are interested in such legislation, in our being permitted to come before this committee. The committee is very gracious and we appreciate it, Mr. Heselton and I, and he joins me in thanking you.
Mr. HARIRs. We are glad to have both of you. Of course, you are members of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee and this is a part of the committee.
Mr. BEAMER. We are missing our own subcommittee this morning, too, to be here.
Mr. HARRIS. We are glad to have you.
Mr. BEAMER. Mr. General Counsel
Mr. HARRIS. I might say that your subcommittee has some of our members over there, too.
Mr. BEAMER. We will see how it works out.
I was going to ask the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission some questions that I do not want to ask the General Counsel, because I know the General Counsel is not familiar with some of it. I know from his background, and I know that he was not here. Some of the Commissioners remember when I first came to Congress in 1951. But I am going to ask this particular question, if the Commission has attempted to study the intent of the Congress not only in the legislation in connection with the McFarland Act, S. 650, I believe as stated by my good friend, but also going back through the years to determine what the Congress had intended to write into the Communications Act. And I refer specifically to this diversification idea, or shall we call it, the nondiscriminatory clause, as included in the bill which the chairman of our subcommittee and myself have introduced.
I ask that question, because I wonder if the General Counsel has some comments to make on the intent of the Congress, and in what way.
Mr. BAKER. Well, as you know, Congress' intent is expressed in terms of public interest.
The factors that the Commission has felt were included in public interest are many and varied. One of those has been expressed as diversification in control of mass communications.
Over the years that particular factor has been specifically considered many times; specifically approved by the courts, and as a matter of fact, in a number of more recent cases the Commission has been reversed where the courts did not consider that the Commission adequately considered that factor.
As a result, the Commission has considered what it thought Congress intended and so have the courts, with respect to those factors that are in the public interest.
Mr. BEAMER. The reason I asked the question is because I had some specific information that I wanted to present for the record, if the chairman will permit, later on, giving some excerpts from the debate on the floor of the House and statements in the committee back in 1952 when the McFarland bill was being considered by this full committee.
It seemed very evident at that time that the House members, and I think the committee was unanimous, had the feeling that there should not be discriminaiton against any group of people, whether they be people in the newspaper business or people who were interested in the medium of disseminating and gathering news, or whether they were interested in any phase of it or whatever their business might be, that that should not be a contributing factor. And I have considerable information on that point, and I am going to ask that it be submitted later on in the record. That is the reason that I feel this is important.
I wish that the General Counsel would help me on this point.
If I recall correctly, the conference committee was appointed to resolve the differences between the House version and the Senate version of the bill and I believe that particular clause was stricken in the conference committee; was it not?
Mr. BAKER. That is correct.
Mr. BEAMER. And the comments which the Federal Communications Commission has filed with this committee shows that the House version of the McFarland amendment contained language almost identical with that which is here proposed. It was stricken out in the conference committee and the report itself is quoted as to the reasons for striking these out.
I could read them if you care for me to do so, or if it is the desire of the members of the committee that I do so.
Mr. BAKER. It is on the first page of the comments which were filed.
Mr. BEAMER. The reason I say that it is difficult to ask these questions of you is because you were not here at the time this was considered.
If I recall correctly, the Federal Communications Commission, through its spokesman at that time, at that particular time, said that it was not necessary to have that in, because “We are not going to be guided by it anyhow." "We will not permit any such provisions." We will not permit ourselves to discriminate against anyone.”
Now, in other words, we thought we had the assurance from the Federal Communications Commission that there would be no discrimination.
And that is the reason I think that the conference committee—and I believe that the chairman of this subcommittee was a member of the conference committee and can probably answer the question better than I—at that time they felt since they had the assurance—it was only verbal assurance—that they would agree to have that particular provision stricken out with the understanding that there would be no discrimination exercised on the part of the Commission.
Mr. BAKER. I think that the Congressman has put his finger on one of the very pertinent problems this bill creates and that is:“What is discrimination ?" I think the testimony with respect to the McFarland amendment also reveals that the Federal Communications Commission did not believe they had in the past discriminated against newspaper interests.
I think the Commission felt that it was unnecessary. They did not believe they were discriminating against anyone, in the sense of being biased or prejudiced against a particular industry, but merely that, in accordance with the doctrine that the Congress had set forth, and as they were required to do, they had merely weighed that factor relating to ownership of other matters, or media, just as they were required to weigh other factors relating to the participants when they are deciding a comparative case.
Mr. BEAMER. I think that the General Counsel is correct.
I think that was the intent at that particular time and I still feel it is, and many of us feel that the Commission has had every desire not to discriminate; but now the question arises, how true were they to that promise?
I refer to the Broadcasting and Television Magazine issue of November 1954. Frankly, this is one article that prompted me to try to make some corrections which I think are necessary.
This article referred to pointed out—and I have not heard it refuted quite a large number of cases wehere there was discrimination.
Now I am wondering-I am not going to ask the General Counsel to comment on this himself, but we are wondering and we have in mind,