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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  15 The network company technician unions emerged as a counter-strategy. Network owners and managers fought vigorously to maintain a non-AFL affiliated work force as they battled to co-opt government regulation. These industry developments are closely related, if not causal. In the absence of countervailing governmental pressure, technical unionization would not have proceeded as it did. Another factor which profoundly shaped NBC’s response to outside unions was the constant threat of government interference through increased regulation of the U.S. communications industries. By early November 1933, it became clear that the Roosevelt administration intended to establish (for military and defense purposes) a new and expanded "centralized control of all U.S. communications systems, such as telephone, telegraph, and broadcasting, and unified operation of all government systems that involve the same." 15 NRA compliance was no doubt an important bargaining chip in this policy debate. As a prelude to the creation of the Communications Act of 1934, on November 13, 1933, the Roosevelt White House proposed the creation of "some form of centralized control of all communications and unified operation of government systems." The message from the Roosevelt administration to corporate America--the principal lessee of U.S. communications channels beside the military, by that time--seemed clear. Roosevelt, by then trying desperately through the NIRA and other federal programs to stimulate a national economic recovery, had to strike a delicate balance between the profit interests of the corporate monopolies in the U.S. communications industries and of those who argued for a politically and socially responsible U.S. broadcasting system. Because of the public visibility of the U.S. communication industries by that point and their vital role in the national defense, the Roosevelt administration could not tolerate labor actions or policies that might result in the wholesale shutdown of the U.S. communications industries. On the other hand, the U.S radio industry needed to adopt a prudent approach that would not alienate Roosevelt’s intentions to make the NRA a cornerstone of his economic recovery plans. Between November 15 and 27, key compromises were made in the radio codes. With organized labor strike threats on the rise, broadcasters had already voluntarily brought up salaries and reduced

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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15
The network company technician unions emerged as a counter-strategy. Network owners and
managers fought vigorously to maintain a non-AFL affiliated work force as they battled to co-opt
government regulation. These industry developments are closely related, if not causal. In the absence
of countervailing governmental pressure, technical unionization would not have proceeded as it did.
Another factor which profoundly shaped NBC’s response to outside unions was the constant
threat of government interference through increased regulation of the U.S. communications
industries. By early November 1933, it became clear that the Roosevelt administration intended to
establish (for military and defense purposes) a new and expanded "centralized control of all U.S.
communications systems, such as telephone, telegraph, and broadcasting, and unified operation of all
government systems that involve the same."
15
NRA compliance was no doubt an important
bargaining chip in this policy debate. As a prelude to the creation of the Communications Act of
1934, on November 13, 1933, the Roosevelt White House proposed the creation of "some form of
centralized control of all communications and unified operation of government systems." The
message from the Roosevelt administration to corporate America--the principal lessee of U.S.
communications channels beside the military, by that time--seemed clear. Roosevelt, by then trying
desperately through the NIRA and other federal programs to stimulate a national economic recovery,
had to strike a delicate balance between the profit interests of the corporate monopolies in the U.S.
communications industries and of those who argued for a politically and socially responsible U.S.
broadcasting system.
Because of the public visibility of the U.S. communication industries by that point and their
vital role in the national defense, the Roosevelt administration could not tolerate labor actions or
policies that might result in the wholesale shutdown of the U.S. communications industries. On the
other hand, the U.S radio industry needed to adopt a prudent approach that would not alienate
Roosevelt’s intentions to make the NRA a cornerstone of his economic recovery plans.
Between November 15 and 27, key compromises were made in the radio codes. With organized labor
strike threats on the rise, broadcasters had already voluntarily brought up salaries and reduced


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