In the Matter of AVAILABILITY OF NETWORK PROGRAMING TIME TO MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
40 F.C.C.2d 238
February 6, 1973 Released
Adopted December 20, 1972
BY THE COMMISSION: COMMISSIONERS JOHNSON AND HOOKS DISSENTING AND ISSUING STATEMENTS; COMMISSIONER H. REX LEE CONCURRING IN THE RESULT.
[*238] 1. We have before us a complaint filed on June 13, 1972 by fourteen members of Congress n1 against the three national television networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) for allegedly refusing to sell complainants one-half hour of prime network time to "inform the public about and seek the public's guidance with respect to contemplated Congressional action concerning American involvement in the Indochina War" and thereby "present a contrasting viewpoint to that of the Administration on the global crisis caused by the mining of Haiphong harbor and other recent acts to escalate and extend the war." Complainants stated that prior to the adjournment of Congress a number of authorization and appropriation bills or amendments thereto would be considered that would establish dates to end United States military activities in South Viet Nam or to remove American forces. Complainants alleged that the American people had heard little about these measures from members of Congress who require the guidance of the electorate in deciding how to vote on them, and that it was therefore necessary that the networks sell complainant members of Congress broadcast time to address the public on these issues.
n1 The Honorable Harold E. Hughes, Senator, Iowa; Alan Cranston, Senator, California; Fred E. Harris, Senator, Oklahoma; Philip A. Hart, Senator, Michigan; Vance Hartke, Senator, Indiana; Mike Gravel, Senator, Alaska; Daniel K. Inouye, Senator, Hawaii; Herman Badillo, Representative, New York; John Conyers, Jr., Representative, Michigan; Donald M. Fraser, Representative, Minnesota; Henry Helstoski, Representative, New Jersey; Abner J. Mikva, Representative, Illinois; Donald W. Riegle, Jr., Representative, Michigan; and John F. Seiberling, Representative, Ohio.
2. Complainants stated that Senator Harold E. Hughes, as spokesman for complainants, telephoned Dr. Frank Stanton, Vice-Chairman of the Board of CBS, on May 15, 1972, Mr. Iarricci of NBC on May 16, 1972, and Mr. James Shaw of ABC on May 16, 1972, to request the purchase of time. Their request was allegedly rejected by CBS on May 15, 1972 on the grounds that CBS had fulfilled its fairness doctrine obligations in presenting views contrasting with the President's and that CBS does not sell time to individuals for the presentation of [*239] views on controversial issues. n2 NBC allegedly never answered Senator Hughes' request, although it promised to do so by May 23, 1972, and ABC allegedly rejected the request on May 16, 1972 for reasons similar to those advanced by CBS.
n2 Complainants have attached a letter dated May 23, 1972, from CBS to Senator Hughes indicating that CBS rejected the Senator's request because CBS believed that (a) the sale of time to individuals for the discussion of controversial issues would be an inappropriate abdication of licensee journalistic discretion and would put a premium on the ability of particular spokesmen to buy time; and (b) CBS had fulfilled its fairness obligations in presenting views in opposition to the President's views on the administration's policy in Indochina, including the mining of Haiphong Harbor.
3. Petitioners' complaint requested the following relief: (1) that the Commission issue a declaratory ruling to the effect that the networks are required to sell or otherwise make available a reasonable amount of time to members of Congress who represent the views of a substantial number of the members, so that they may present information to, and seek the guidance of, the American electorate regarding prospective congressional action on matters of overriding national importance, unless the networks are prepared to demonstrate that a reasonable amount of time has been devoted to these purposes; (2) that the Commission order the networks to sell, or otherwise make available, a reasonable amount of time to complainants in this case for the purposes described in (1), since the networks have not and cannot show that they have made available to members of Congress a reasonable amount of time for discussion of pending anti-war congressional measures which are of national importance; (3) that the Commission expedite the processing of this complaint and request by requiring the respondent networks to file their responses to this pleading by June 19, 1972; by granting complainants leave to file a reply by June 20, 1972; and by ruling by June 21, 1972; and (4) in the alternative, that the Commission grant complainants interim relief by ordering the networks to sell or otherwise make available to complainants a reasonable amount of time for the purposes described above. The Commission denied complainants' request for expedited consideration and interim relief on June 16, 1972. See In the Matter of Availability of Network Programming Time to Members of the Congress, 35 F.C.C. 2d 531 (1972), motion for summary reversal or interim relief denied sub nom. Harold E. Hughes, et al., v. F.C.C., Case No. 72-1560, C.A., D.C., June 21, 1972. The merits of the complaint of course remained before us.
4. The petitioners offered three principal arguments in support of their complaint: (1) that the Constitutional doctrine of checks and balances requires that members of Congress have some access to the television medium; (2) that the First Amendment precludes the networks from denying to Congress, through its membership, some access to the airwaves; and (3) that the public interest standard of the Communications Act requires the networks to sell or otherwise make available some broadcast time to members of Congress. In support of the first of these positions, it is urged that the governmental powers of making and executing the laws were apportioned between the Congress and the presidency in order to protect the governed from a concentration of potentially tyrannical power. It is said that the separation of powers concept was not envisioned as self-executing, and that the balance between the branches of government was to be preserved, inter alia, by [*240] the requirement that each branch communicate its activities to an appropriate constituency or body. Thus, complainants argue, Article I, Section V, Clause 3, of the Constitution requires Congress to keep a "journal" of its proceedings by which the people can be informed of congressional activities, while Article II, Section III, of the Constitution, on the other hand, requires the President to give the Congress information on the state of the union from time to time. At no point does the Constitution explicitly refer to direct communications from the President to the people, complainants assert. Citing several of the Federalist papers, complainants further argue that the President's direct contact with the electorate was to be limited, but that the founders intended that the Congress should provide and receive information from the public in properly fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities. Complainants believe that network policies of never refusing a Presidential request for air time to address the public have given the President a great and improper advantage over the Congress in communicating with the American people. n3 Since television is the most powerful mass communication device known and the most important source of information for most people it should be politically neutral, complainants argue. Otherwise the balance of powers created by Articles I and II of the Constitution will be destroyed, with the advantage of access to the airways concentrated in the executive branch and denied to the Congress.
n3 This change from the situation allegedly contemplated by the Constitution is illustrated, complainants argue, by the State of the Union Address. What was originally a constitutional obligation of Presidential communication with Congress has become, through television, a vehicle for the President to communicate simultaneously and directly with the electorate, thus putting the Congress on the defensive in responding to Presidential initiative. The Congressional response, however, unlike the Presidential address, is not broadcast live, in prime time, simultaneously on all networks, but is instead covered in news broadcasts or on panel shows where members of Congress have no control over format, backdrop, time, etc.
5. With particular reference to the Indochina war issue, complainants assert that Congress has a role in checking Presidential excesses in committing troops and resources to that conflict, if such excesses exist, but that for the last several years, "... the American people have heard only half a debate on the Indochina war -- the President's view of the Executive's role in the conduct of the war," because the President has had significant access to the people through television to discuss the war while members of Congress have not had comparable opportunities. While complainants recognize that it is desirable that the President keep the public fully informed on the war issue, they maintain that this direct interaction between the President and the public has altered the relation between the branches of government and between the branches of government and the people. n4 While complainants recognize that members of Congress and spokesmen for the Democratic National Committee have presented views in opposition to the President's on the war, it is said that none of those appearances presented the viewpoint of members of Congress relating to the exercise of Presidential power or the issue of what, if anything, the Congress should do to check the exercise of such power. The appearances [*241] were partisan and therefore inadequate to preserve the integrity of Congress as an independent branch of government or to maintain the system of checks and balances. Moreover, in an era denoted by a bipartisan foreign policy, partisanship is an insufficient guarantee of the public's right to hear dissenting congressional views or to assure the functioning of the system of checks and balances. Complainants assert, therefore, that while there may have been debate on the merits of the President's war policies, there have been few or no affirmative presentations of congressional alternatives, and little or no time allowed for congressional appeals for public support of increased congressional control of the war.
n4 The complaint thus referred to pending major resolutions relating to the termination of all military activities in Vietnam by particular dates, asserting that the public had heard little about these particular measures from Members of Congress who require the guidance of the electorate in deciding how to vote on them.
6. Complainants also argue that the public interest standard of the Communications Act of 1934 requires that the networks make available the broadcast time requested. Complainants maintain that the public interest standard requires licensees to cover controversial issues, and to devote considerable time to coverage of political affairs because it contributes to an informed public. Complainants observe that the Commission, on this ground, has endorsed the network practice of affording time for Presidential addresses, see Committee for Fair Broadcasting, 25 F.C.C. 2d 283 (1970), and that this public interest is equally applicable to members of Congress, so that the Commission must consequently grant the relief requested.
7. In response, the networks argue that the declaratory ruling sought by complainants is not required by the alleged necessity of preserving the constitutional system of checks and balances. Respondents argue that complainants have failed to cite any authority in support of that argument. Moreover, NBC argues, the complainants have suggested an extraordinary remedy for the problem they perceive: the appropriation and use of privately owned broadcast facilities to remedy an alleged imbalance in the structure of government. CBS observes that nowhere in the Constitution is a duty imposed upon the press to maintain the balance of power between the governmental branches, nor is any power granted to the Federal government in the Constitution to compel private institutions to cooperate in correcting an alleged imbalance in such powers. NBC also argues that if the framers had intended to require the press to provide equal access to the branches of government, the Constitution would have so specified. Instead, it was intended that the press be free of all governmental control or interferences and not be required to turn over blocks of time or space to a branch of government for its particular use.
8. Complainants' reliance on the Constitutional requirement that Congress maintain a "journal" as evidence that the framers intended that members of Congress be able to communicate with their constituencies is said to be misplaced, because the journal fulfills a recording function and operates after the fact to provide information on Congressional actions, and not, as complainants suggest, to communicate an interchange of views between members of Congress and their constituencies prior to a vote on pending legislation. It is also maintained that contact between members of Congress and their constituencies was established through the election process and not through press communications. Complainants are also said to misconstrue the [*242] roles of the branches of government, since individual members of Congress have a need to communicate with their respective constituencies, but not necessarily with all the people on all national issues. Respondents observe in this connection that complainants represent only 14 of the 535 discrete constituencies represented in Congress, while the President, as one of the only two nationally elected officers, is responsible to, and must communicate with, the whole electorate.
9. The respondent networks do not explicitly answer complainants' public interest argument, but do address themselves to the public interest implications of the checks and balances argument. First, the networks disagree with complainants' initial premise that there has been any imbalance in use of the television medium between the President and members of Congress which could be said to alter the system of checks and balances. They also insist that their public interest obligations have been fulfilled in that access has been afforded to members of Congress, the public has not been left uninformed about the war or Congressional views thereon, there has been no violation of the Fairness Doctrine, and current Commission policy does not mandate the relief complainants seek. The networks argue that no showing has been made by complainants under the Fairness Doctrine or otherwise that there has been any imbalance in the actual appearance of members of Congress and the President, or that members of Congress have not been afforded access to address their constituencies. CBS claims that it regularly presents members of Congress in free time, on news and public affairs programs, that in 1971, for example, there were 687 appearances by members of Congress in CBS Television Network news and documentary broadcasts, and that in the 36 days between the President's announcement of the mining of Haiphong Harbor and the filing of the instant complaint, there was 19 appearances by members of Congress on regular CBS news programs to express views critical of the Administration, in addition to other appearances by members of Congress in special news programs, interview programs, etc. CBS correspondents also covered the introduction and discussion of Congressional bills to end the war or cut off war funds. NBC claims that complainants' assertion that the American people have heard only half a debate on the Indochina war -- i.e., the President's view of the Executive's role in the conduct of the war, or that members of Congress have been denied access, is insupportable.
10. NBC views the issues raised in this complaint, i.e., the propriety of the President's exercise of power in conducting the war and the consideration of pending Congressional action to limit the President's powers, as sub issues of the broader Vietnam War issue, an issue it has covered extensively. NBC states in its brief, and by exhibits reviewing its public affairs and special news programming, that it has afforded adequate coverage to members of Congress on the Indochina war issue. NBC also notes that to the extent members of Congress seek to communicate with their own constituencies, they do not require national exposure, and that NBC's owned and operated stations have afforded access to members of Congress in their service areas. NBC also states that it has no policy precluding the sale of time to members of Congress for the discussion of controversial issues, that in May, 1970 it [*243] sold such time to a group of Senators, including Senator Hughes, a complainant herein, that it considers such requests as one means of informing the public on significant issues, and that upon receipt of complainants' request to buy time, NBC informed complainants it would attempt to clear one hour of prime time (9:30 P.M. EDST) on May 23, 1972 for complainants' use. After the filing of this complaint, NBC offered 15 minutes of prime time (8:00 P.M. EDST) on June 26, 1972, which offer complainants allegedly rejected because of insufficient funds. NBC also states that a review of its public affairs programming for sample periods (April, May 1970, 1971 and 1972) shows between 41 and 70 appearances by members of Congress on the NBC television network in regularly scheduled public affairs or special news programs alone.
11. ABC construes the complaint as raising only one issue under existing law, i.e., whether the ABC television network has given adequate and fair opportunity for the public to be informed about the various facets of the Vietnam war, including the views of members of Congress about the war and the appropriate roles of the Congress and the President in attempting to end it. With respect to the complaint that members of Congress are denied access to the television medium comparable to that afforded the President ABC states that Congressional spokesmen appeared on ABC to discuss the Vietnam war 47 times since the beginning of the Nixon Administration. ABC outlined its record in affording access to members of Congress in its special news and public programming, showing that there were 50 appearances by members of Congress between January 1, 1971 and February 15, 1972 over the ABC television network.
12. Respondents further argue that complainants have no viable claim under the Fairness Doctrine, since the Fairness Doctrine is issue oriented and provides no right of access for particular individuals or groups except in the personal attack or political editorializing situations. Recognizing that the Fairness Doctrine is applicable to Presidential speeches dealing with controversial issues of public importance, they observe that the Commission and courts have refused to require that equal time or other right of response be granted to any particular group. Respondents assert that the scheduling of Presidential broadcast appearances is part of the journalistic process and depends upon the licensee's determination of the newsworthiness of the appearance. No other individual has powers similar to those of the President or makes decisions of comparable magnitude. Consequently, equal or comparable treatment of the views of other persons, even members of Congress is not compelled by journalistic considerations. Complainants' proposals would require that time be afforded without regard to the newsworthiness of the subject. To require such treatment would undermine the trustee role of the licensee and would substitute government control for the editorial independence of the television medium, according to ABC and NBC, a result inconsistent with the regulatory scheme adopted by Congress and expressed by the Commission in the Fairness Doctrine.
13. In reply, complainants state that the networks have distorted the nature of their claim. They say that this is not a Fairness Doctrine [*244] case, and that complainants are not seeking merely to present a "congressional point of view" or to obtain an automatic right of response to Presidential addresses, but rather a ruling that the networks have some obligation to allow some members to buy or otherwise obtain broadcast time to seek the guidance of the electorate on matters pending in Congress, pursuant to recognizable standards administered by licensees, and that a flat ban on the sale of time for such discussion of important national issues is unreasonable, unconstitutional and violative of the Communications Act of 1934. Since this complaint is not grounded in the Fairness Doctrine, complainants argue, the networks' showing that they have afforded the public access to contrasting views on the war is unresponsive and does not demonstrate that the public has been informed of the specific measures pending in Congress or that Congress has been able to secure public guidance on those issues. Similarly, the showing that particular members of Congress have made broadcast appearances fails to show that such appearances were related to the specific legislation complainants wish to discuss. Complainants reassert that the network practice of discriminating in favor of Presidential speech and against Congressional speech by consistently granting Presidential requests for time is violative of both the First Amendment and the public interest. Network responses that the President's role is unique among governmental officials and therefore warrants public access, and that members of Congress are permitted to make broadcast appearances by licensees, do not refute complainants' contention of unlawful discrimination in access to the media in favor of the President. The Congress is a coordinate branch of government, complainants argue, and has specific and unique powers as important as those of the President. Consequently, members of Congress have as great a need to communicate with the public on matters of national importance as does the President. Members of Congress are national officials, complainants assert, dealing with issues of national importance. The requested access is needed to inform the entire electorate of pending legislation and to seek guidance for the entire Congress.
14. To a considerable extent, the complaint before us in this proceeding raises questions already decided adversely to the complainants' position. Thus, we have previously decided that the First Amendment does not confer a right of access to broadcast facilities, n5 and that neither the public interest nor any Congressional enactment requires licensees to sell time to particular groups for the discussion of public controversial issues. In Committee for the Fair Broadcasting of Controversial Issues, 25 F.C.C. 2d 283, 294-296 (1970), n6 we rejected the contention that "the Commission should require networks to provide time to any substantial group of senators opposing the President's views on a controversial issue of national importance wherever the issue is one in [*245] which the Senate has a role to perform in seeking resolution of the issue, and the President has initiated debate via nationwide television." We refused to single out any group of senators as being entitled to time to respond, pointing out that "members of the House, Governors, and other public or private officials would be just as appropriate spokesmen." We are now engaged in a broad review of the Fairness Doctrine in an Inquiry instituted by a notice released on June 11, 1971, Docket No. 19260, 30 F.C.C. 2d 26. This Inquiry includes the question of access to the broadcast media for the discussion of public issues, and we would normally leave the questions presented by the present complaint for resolution in the wider ranging proceeding. However, in view of complainants' request for expedited action and the relatively narrow scope of their complaint, we will consider it separately.
n5 Democratic National Committee, 25 F.C.C. 2d 216 (1970), reversed sub. nom. Business Executives' Move for Vietnam Peace v. Federal Communications Commission, 450 F. 2d 642 (D.C. Cir. 1971), cert. granted and mandate stayed, 405 U.S. 953 (1972). In view of the fact that the issue of a First Amendment right of access is now pending before the Supreme Court, we will not reexamine that question here. See also, In the Matter of the Handling of Public Issues under the Fairness Doctrine & the Public Interest Standards of the Communications Act, 33 FCC 2d 800, 804 (1972).
n6 On another issue decided in this same opinion, the Commission was reversed in Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. F.C.C., 454 F. 2d 1018 (1971).
15. The basic question is whether complainants' new contentions take this case out of our general policy against requiring licensees to depart from ordinary Fairness Doctrine concepts by making time available to particular persons or groups. As our extensive summary of the pleadings makes clear, the primary new consideration put before us is the claim that the Constitutional separation of powers mandates special treatment of members of Congress seeking to communicate with the public on issues to be considered by Congress. Complainants do not contend here that the networks have failed to fulfill their responsibilities under the Fairness Doctrine, but that a right of access to broadcast facilities exists for members of Congress under the stated conditions, over and beyond the requirements of the Fairness Doctrine. We cannot agree. We see nothing in the arguments before us to warrant a change in our established policy. The concept of a separation of powers among the branches of the Federal government is deeply rooted in the Constitution and well understood. And there can be no dispute over the importance in this scheme of the legislative powers conferred upon the public's representatives assembled in Congress. But recognition of these basis facts of governmental life does not take us to the next step -- that either the Constitution or the public interest standard of the Communications Act mandates special access, enforced by the Commission, for Congressional groups. Our earlier decisions cited above make clear our view that the Act does not confer the claimed right, and the Constitution says nothing on this subject, save for the requirement that a journal be kept. We do not read that requirement as having the consequences complainants attach to it, and while we recognize that the Constitution would not be expected to take specific account of radio and television, we also see no necessary nexus between the execution of congressional functions and an allocation of nationwide television or radio time to members of Congress. It may well be that particular members believe that the use of network facilities is important, or even essential, to proper communication with the public. But the Constitution does not command such communication, and the Constitutional prerogatives and powers of Congress remain intact without it. We do not find warrant in anything put before us for such a novel reading of the Constitution. We note in this connection the language of the Court of Appeals in an opinion rejecting the claim of the Democratic National Committee to equal time to respond to Presidential addresses [*246] ( Democratic National Committee v. F.C.C., 460 F. 2d 891, 905 (D.C. Cir. 1972):
One of the problems faced by DNC is the coverage given the President by the media and it is obviously because of this wide exposure they seek our creation of a new corollary. We are not unsympathetic to the plight of the party out of the White House but sympathy cannot be allowed to deter the public from the maximum information it can obtain. One of the primary sources for public information concerning the nation and its welfare is from the Presidential broadcast. While political scientists and historians may argue about the institution of the Presidency and the obligations and role of the nation's chief executive officer it is clear that in this day and age it is obligatory for the President to inform the public on his program and its progress from time to time. By the very nature of his position the President is a focal point of national life. The people of this country look to him in his numerous roles for guidance, understanding, perspective and information. No matter who the man living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is he will be subject to greater coverage in the press and on the media than any other person in the free world. The President is obliged to keep the American people informed and as this obligation exists for the good of the nation this court can find no reason to abridge the right of the public to be informed by creating an automatic right to respond reposed in the opposition party. In matters which are non-political the President's status differs from that of other Americans and is of a superior nature.
16. Turning from the contention based upon the Constitution, to the more general area of the public interest, we cannot be insensitive to the ramifications of departing from our prior holdings to the extent urged here. We have been furnished no reasonable guide, and see none, for determining the makeup of the various Congressional groups to which the asserted right would accrue. In view of the number of Congressmen who could be expected to seek access, the divergences in views that could be expected on any particular issue because of partisan, political, philosophical, regional, or other differences and interests and because of the nature of the Congressional system, it is extremely doubtful that either licensees or the Commission could consistently implement any objective and impartial system of access. Nor do we believe that the ruling requested here could be logically limited to members of Congress seeking national access and denied to local representative leaders seeking local access to address their constituencies. See Complaint of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, released October 13, 1972, FCC 72-922. Our experience with the Fairness Doctrine indicates that it would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to draw a reasonable and logical line as to which particular persons or groups would have the right to access and which would not. Adoption of the rule requested here would go far toward making licensees act as common carriers, contrary to the congressional scheme. See Section 3(h) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 153(h).
17. The networks have presented extensive evidence indicating that members of Congress have been offered substantial access to the media to discuss the war and other important congressional matters. Complainants, therefore, have not supported their assertions that "... the American people have heard only half a debate on the Indochina war..." or that members of Congress are denied access to the television media. In this situation, and certainly in advance of completing our overall review in Docket 19260, we are not convinced that it would serve the public interest to attempt to create any category of group [*247] or individual access. Nor do we believe that the public interest standard requires the adoption of such rigid and inflexible rules to achieve the goal of an informed public. The history of the Fairness Doctrine dictates otherwise. As we said in our most recent discussion of the handling of political broadcasts under the Fairness Doctrine in Docket 19260, 36 F.C.C. 2d 40, (1972): "The genius of the Fairness Doctrine has been precisely the leeway and discretion it affords the licensee to discharge his obligation to contribute to an informed electorate... Thus, the arguments for flexibility, rather than mechanical rules,... remain persuasive." The adoption of complainants' proposals, contrary to our long recognized policy, in order to remedy an alleged frustration of congressional responsibility, would constitute a rigidifying step which Congress itself has not chosen to take. n7 Congress is certainly not without power to amend the Communications Act in order to create some formal right of congressional access if it considers such a step necessary to the fulfillment of its functions or preservation of its powers vis-a-vis the President. n8 However, no congressional action of any nature has been taken, and we are of the view that the action urged upon us would not serve the public interest. We believe it preferable to continue to rely upon the constraints of the Fairness Doctrine and the journalistic discretion of licensees to insure that the public is adequately informed on issues of national importance and the views of our elected officials on such issues.
n7 We note that the one recent congressignal proposal to require congressional access by amendment to the Communications Act, S.J. Res. 209. 91st Cong., 2d Sess., expired in the Senate Subcommittee on Communications upon adjournment of the 91st Congress.
n8 In one recent amendment to the Communications Act, Congress authorized the Commission to revoke a station's license or construction permit "for willful or repeated failure to allow reasonable access to or to permit purchase of reasonable amounts of time for the use of a broadcasting station by a legally qualified candidate for Federal Elective office on behalf of his candidacy." 86 Stat. 3, 47 U.S.C. 312(a)(7).
18. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, That the petition for a declaratory ruling filed June 13, 1972 by fourteen members of Congress is DENIED.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, BEN F. WAPLE, Secretary.
DISSENTING STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER BENJAMIN L. HOOKS
Although the circumstances are not entirely parallel, most of the reasons for my dissent are enunciated more fully in a comparison opinion relating to the request of the Black Congressional Caucus n1 for television time and I will not repeat them here. Moreover, I am aware that the Supreme Court will soon depose on the entire area of Congressional access n2 when it reviews the Commission's decision (decided previous to my appointment) in Democratic National Committee. n3
n1 See my opinion in the matter of Complaint of the Black Caucus of the United States House of Representatives, F.C.C. 2d (1973).
n2 Id., fn. 12.
n3 25 F.C.C. 2d (1970).
My point is simply that I believe that Congress should be afforded time to address the public on their views on urgent national issues, and I think that broadcasters, acting in the public interest, should [*248] make time available. As a matter of procedure, and to avoid an insurmountable burden on broadcasters, I believe that the appropriate choice of spokesmen should be left to Congress. Perhaps the majority and minority leaderships of the House and Senate could select spokesmen on a rotating basis or utilize some other equitable method of apportioning the privilege.
In this period when people are talking about its possible loss of effect, Congress should not have to plead or sue for media time to talk to its electorate. It's role is far too important in our American political system.