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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  3 Radio Commission (FRC) as part of its New Deal. While there were some who speculated that the President might disband the FRC entirely, the opposite was closer to the truth. Roosevelt actually wanted to safeguard the status quo of U.S. broadcasting, though he planned significant changes for other industries. Roosevelt appreciated the manner in which U.S. broadcasters favorably covered his 1932 presidential candidacy, as opposed to the print press that mostly supported Herbert Hoover. 1 To deal with the effects of the Depression, the White House created sweeping legislation to bring management, labor, and government groups together to solve the crisis. The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), based in part on the successful government-industrial mobilization during World War I, promised to create a series of codes through which minimum/maximum wages and work hours, prices, and business competition would be regulated to an unprecedented degree. The Act created the National Recovery Administration to coordinate the development of these codes with representatives from various constituencies of the industries to be regulated. In practice, however, labor representatives participated in less than 10 percent of the codes developed for industry, and consumer representation was almost non-existent. 2 By far, management groups dominated the development of industry codes, often to the exclusion of organized labor groups whether independent or part of the American Federation of Labor and/or the Congress of Industrial Organizations. This is especially evident in the inclusion of Section 7(a) within the NIRA legislative language. This part of the law gave employers the right to establish company-dominated unions in which management-labor cooperation would be the goal. Instead, labor co-optation became the rule in the vast majority of industries that would establish company unions. 3 The U.S. Labor Bureau later found that the vast majority of company unions were set up by management to protect management’s interests. All of these points can be seen in the history of how the U.S. broadcasting industry largely dominated the process of implementation of the NRA code-making process. From 1933 until the NIRA was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in May, 1935, the U.S. broadcasting industry was largely dominated by the radio networks owned and operated by the National

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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3
Radio Commission (FRC) as part of its New Deal. While there were some who speculated that the
President might disband the FRC entirely, the opposite was closer to the truth. Roosevelt actually
wanted to safeguard the status quo of U.S. broadcasting, though he planned significant changes for
other industries. Roosevelt appreciated the manner in which U.S. broadcasters favorably covered his
1932 presidential candidacy, as opposed to the print press that mostly supported Herbert Hoover.
1
To deal with the effects of the Depression, the White House created sweeping legislation to
bring management, labor, and government groups together to solve the crisis. The National Industrial
Recovery Act (NIRA), based in part on the successful government-industrial mobilization during
World War I, promised to create a series of codes through which minimum/maximum wages and work
hours, prices, and business competition would be regulated to an unprecedented degree. The Act
created the National Recovery Administration to coordinate the development of these codes with
representatives from various constituencies of the industries to be regulated.
In practice, however, labor representatives participated in less than 10 percent of the codes
developed for industry, and consumer representation was almost non-existent.
2
By far, management
groups dominated the development of industry codes, often to the exclusion of organized labor groups
whether independent or part of the American Federation of Labor and/or the Congress of Industrial
Organizations. This is especially evident in the inclusion of Section 7(a) within the NIRA legislative
language. This part of the law gave employers the right to establish company-dominated unions in
which management-labor cooperation would be the goal. Instead, labor co-optation became the rule in
the vast majority of industries that would establish company unions.
3
The U.S. Labor Bureau later
found that the vast majority of company unions were set up by management to protect management’s
interests.
All of these points can be seen in the history of how the U.S. broadcasting industry largely
dominated the process of implementation of the NRA code-making process. From 1933 until the
NIRA was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in May, 1935, the U.S. broadcasting
industry was largely dominated by the radio networks owned and operated by the National


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