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A Message to Delegate Readers from Vincent T. Waselewski
President of the National Association of Broadcasters

An organized and determined effort is being made to get Black organizations to try to defeat any Broadcast License Renewal legislation.

The organizers of this effort are misleading such organizations with charges that such bills would prevent minorities from challenging a station's license, that they would forever prevent minorities from owning radio and television stations and that they would relieve stations of their obligation to hire, train and promote minority people.

None of these allegations is true. If they were, the eight members of the Black Caucus who supported license renewal legislation in the previous Congress would have never done so.

The bill, which passed the House and the Senate, would not have deprived Blacks or anyone else from challenging an application for renewal; nor would it prevent any minority from acquiring a radio or TV station; neither would it affect their rights to file a competing application for a station; nor would it relieve stations of their obligations to hire Blacks and members of other minority groups, and being responsive to their needs.

Petition to deny, which invariably is the route taken by Black Groups, would not be affected by the legislation. The legislation affects only competing applications. Such applications have never been filed by Black or other minority groups, but rather by well-heeled groups of businessmen who are willing to risk half a million dollars in legal expenses on the chance they may wrest away a license worth twenty or thirty times those expenses. Such legislation would correct the effect of the court decisions which created the broadcast industry instability on which these business groups are preying.

It would require only that the Federal Communications Commission consider the job done by the licensee and grant that licensee credit if his performance has been substantially responsive to the needs and interests of the public. That is a fair resolution of the issue. If he has done a poor job, then receives no credit and takes his chances against a competing application on equal footing.

Statements have been made that a 5-year license term will shut out the minority groups. The bills that passed the House and the Senate, far from shutting out minority groups, require broadcasters to meet and deal with those in his community who may have comments or suggestions about the operation of the station. In truth, this merely cements into practice something that most broadcasters have been doing for years as a matter of good judgment. The broadcaster is licensed to serve the public and he is engaged in a constant dialogue to determine the needs and interests of the public. Station files will continue to be open to the public which is invited bi-monthly on the air by the station itself to come in and inspect them. Members of the public are also encouraged to contact the station with any question or complaints. This dialogue would not be inhibited by the bulls and in fact will probably be enhanced.

Further, noting in the proposed legislation will affect the FCC's on-going scrutiny of broadcasting stations. Broadcasters will still have to file annual program, financial and employment reports with the FCC and to promptly report any changes in ownership or program service. The Commission will monitor station operation throughout the broadcast term, not just at renewal time. Stations will also continue to be detailed, periodic on-site inspections by Commission personnel to insure compliance with all applicable rules. If any time during the license period the Commission finds fault with a station's performance, it has wide discretion to have it promptlyy corrected. It can send out a cautionary warning, impose a monetary fine, or in the extreme situation, institute license revocation proceedings.

The License Renewal bill passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate will not limit these FCC activities in any way. Nor will the minority groups find a less responsible broadcaster if his renewal is extended to five years. The bill represents a fair balance between the broadcasters' acknowledged public responsibility and the requirement for stability that is necessary to operate a station.

The National Association of Broadcasters, concerned with the scarcity of Black-owned radio stations and the absence of Black-owned TV stations, has tried and will continue to help Blacks toward ownership. As a matter of fact, NAB sponsored in minority seminar attended by more than 200 Blacks and persons of Hispanic descent. The subject was how to acquire financing. The President of NNPA and the President of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, as well as a representative of Ebony and Jet Magazines, who soon after purchased a station, were among those who attended that session. Not long after that, a group of Black-owned stations has doubled. The passage of the license renewal bill will help, not hinder this move up. And, without question, Black ownership in broadcasting will increase substantially in the next few years.

The broadcast industry has no more to do with the absence of Back-owned TV than the steel industry, the automobile industry, the airline industry, the railroad industry and many of these too are regulted by the government. And yet I don't know any of these industries that are trying as the NAB is, to help Blacks become involved in ownership. As far as employment in broadcasting is concerned, minority group employment, according to the last FCC report has risen to more than 11%.

The broadcasting industryy's record of employment of Blacks in positions from vice presidents of networks on down far exceeds that of any other branch of the press. One network has a Black on its board of directors, as does the National Association of Broadcasters.

Certainly the industry isn't perfect - no industry is - but through NAB's Community Relations Department, headed by a Black woman and our Employment Clearinghouse also headed by a Black, the broadcast industry is making great strides. The doors of NAB are always open, as they have been in the past, to the Black press as well as representatives of NNPA, National Urban League, the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Improved Benevolent Order of Elks of the World and others, hoping that we continue to work together and discuss our problems and disagreements for the mutual benefit of all.

We have invited Senator Edward W. Brooke to be a luncheon speaker at our annual convention in Las Vegas in April, and through our Community Relations Department, we are holding two workshops of interest to minorities. The first will be held on Tuesday, April 8, and will explore techniques of effectively incorporating minority personnel into the industry. The second, to be held on Wednesday, April 9, will deal with ownership of radio and television stations.

The NAB has extended invitations to a cross section of minority people, known to have an interest in these two areas, to attend the convention and to participate in its deliberations.


Transcription Notes:
the word "promptlyy" and "industryy" is not misspelled in the transcription, it is misspelled in the source material as well.

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