FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
11 F.C.C.2d 809
January 24, 1968
The Commission, by Commissioners Hyde, Chairman; Bartley, Lee, Cox, Loevinger, and Johnson, with Commissioners Cox and Johnson dissenting and issuing statements.
[*809] The Commission, by Commissioners Hyde, Chairman; Bartley, Lee, Cox, Loevinger, and Johnson, with Commissioners Cox and Johnson dissenting and issuing statements, approved the staff action in reviewing the February 1, 1968, renewal group of licenses.
DISSENTBY: COX; JOHNSON
DISSENTING STATEMENT OF Commissioner Kenneth a. Cox/
dissent to the renewal of the licenses of the following stations in the
February 1, 1968, renewal group (
Because they propose less than 5 percent news programming: KXEN, KATZ, KSTL, KPLR-TV, and KMBC-TV.
Because they propose less than 1 percent public affairs programming: KCHR, KCFI, KFTW, KFVS, KICK, KJCF, KLID, KLTI, KSIS, KWNT, KWVY, KFVS-TV, KGLO-TV, and KUHI-TV.
Because they propose less than 5 percent public affairs and "other" (religious, instructional and agricultural) programming: KDFN, KDRO, KICK, KFTW, KLID, KLWW, KMBZ, KWWL, KTRI, KXOK, KGLO-TV, and KUHI-TV.
(It will be noted that some stations are included on two grounds. Some have already been renewed under staff delegations -- but with the approval of the Commission -- and others will be so renewed when other collateral matters have been resolved.)
have stated my grounds for objecting to the renewal of station licenses on
these kinds of showings -- and without further inquiry -- in connection with
each of the last several renewal groups, and do not desire to repeat those
views here. Based on a very hurried
examination of this group of renewals, I note that the lowest percentage of
news programming in the whole list is proposed by KPLR-TV, one of four
commercial VHF stations serving
n1 Its AM affiliate, KFVS, which is the
only one of
n2 The same is true of KUHI-TV in
I am sure there are other glaring cases here -- one-station communities, or instances where the dominant station provides the least in these important, but less profitable, program areas. But as a matter of processing, I think all of these stations should have been queried as to their program proposals. Some of them may have valid explanations, but I doubt if all of them do. The majority's continuing acquiescence in this sort of thing does not serve the public interest -- in fact, I don't think it even serves the long-range best interests of the broadcasting industry.
1, 1968, is renewal day for all
we the Commissioners "note" that the staff has completed its
processing of the renewal applications, though doing little more than nod to
the sketchy memoranda as they pass our desks.
As is always the case, this processing has required the expenditure of
considerable resources -- time, talent, and money -- principally by those
outside the Commission; sadly, no one but members of
The airwaves are public property. A frequency assignment is not "owned" -- it is licensed from the public, like public lands. A broadcasting license is a trusteeship, equivalent to the position held by an elected official. His "election" occurs every 3 years, when the FCC hears from his local "constituency " whether they wish to continue him "in office" for another 3 years. Unfortunately, most listeners and viewers are never heard from -- indeed they probably are unaware of their rights. The televisions industry earns approximately a 100-percent return on depreciated tangible investment each year -- for delivering [*811] up listeners and viewers to advertisers' messages on its monopolistic facility. (Which means that, in addition to the public's $20 billion investment in receiving equipment it also pays the $3 billion a year in advertised product costs to provide the "free" radio and television service it receives.) In return for this profitable use of public property broadcasters owe the public who has elected them more than national spot advertising, "rip and read" wire service news, network entertainment shows, and old movies. For programming lies at the heart of all that is broadcasting and service to "the public interest."
The Commission's rules require licensees to submit extensive data about the kinds of programming they have and intend to broadcast over their frequencies. These submissions are "processed" in a physical sense. But scant attention is paid to their content.
of the broadcasts of
In the present case, for example, three of the 165 standard broadcast stations and two of the 29 television stations on which the staff has completed processing propose to devote less than 5 percent of their time to news in the weekly menu for the consumers of their programming; 10 of the radio broadcasters and two of the television broadcasters propose less than 1 percent public affairs programming. The Commission has solemnly found all to be serving the public interest, and is renewing their licenses.
For this Commission to sanction such cynical squandering of the valuable largess it dispenses is a shameful fraud on the public. As I emphasized on a similar occasion 1 year ago:
* * Millions of Americans are reassured in the belief that there is an FCC in
I retain my hope that the unrepresented American viewer may someday be told of his rights, and rise up and demand better service from his representatives, the seven men who man this Commission. Until that day I shall continue to dissent to this Commission's indifference to his interests, which our commission of office obligates us to safeguard.