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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  14 superpower policy was heavily promoted during 1924 and 1925. It brought much public concern that many small stations might end up being crowded out by the large and powerful stations. 34 New Classification of Superpower: Replacing Class B As the effects of the privileged Class B had faded out, the large corporations accelerated the plan of national broadcasting connected by a few superpower stations. The radio corporations sought the model of a national radio system from centralized nation-wide public utility services of the telephone, telegraph, and electric-lighting industries: Their national systems reduced costs and increased business efficiency, as well as provided better service to consumers. 35 It was the age of machine. Transportation, electricity, and communication technologies were competing to be bigger, faster, and farther-reaching. However, such plans for broadcasting carried social controversies over the necessity of local broadcasting service and locality, as well as the danger of monopoly and censorship. To avoid the intertwined socioeconomic factors, the large radio corporations attempted to frame the policy debate as only a technological choice between interconnection and superpower. Broadcast listeners’ responses to the administrative decision over radio technologies were counted as an important element in the debate. Thus, the industrial and administrative needs brought the publicity campaign to redirect listeners’ tastes and listening habit. In this process, the social qualitative properties of the public interest were completely left out of the debate. By the time of the Third Conference, RCA and GE, which already experimented with 5,000 watt-stations, were contemplating increasing power up to 50,000 watts—the so-called superpower. David Sarnoff, Vice President of RCA, was heavily pushing superpower broadcasting as a counter-measure to wireless telephone interconnection between local stations, monopolized by AT&T. He proposed that superpower stations would provide every home in the

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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14
superpower policy was heavily promoted during 1924 and 1925. It brought much public concern
that many small stations might end up being crowded out by the large and powerful stations.
34
New Classification of Superpower: Replacing Class B
As the effects of the privileged Class B had faded out, the large corporations accelerated
the plan of national broadcasting connected by a few superpower stations. The radio corporations
sought the model of a national radio system from centralized nation-wide public utility services
of the telephone, telegraph, and electric-lighting industries: Their national systems reduced costs
and increased business efficiency, as well as provided better service to consumers.
35
It was the
age of machine. Transportation, electricity, and communication technologies were competing to
be bigger, faster, and farther-reaching.
However, such plans for broadcasting carried social controversies over the necessity of
local broadcasting service and locality, as well as the danger of monopoly and censorship. To
avoid the intertwined socioeconomic factors, the large radio corporations attempted to frame the
policy debate as only a technological choice between interconnection and superpower. Broadcast
listeners’ responses to the administrative decision over radio technologies were counted as an
important element in the debate. Thus, the industrial and administrative needs brought the
publicity campaign to redirect listeners’ tastes and listening habit. In this process, the social
qualitative properties of the public interest were completely left out of the debate.
By the time of the Third Conference, RCA and GE, which already experimented with
5,000 watt-stations, were contemplating increasing power up to 50,000 watts—the so-called
superpower. David Sarnoff, Vice President of RCA, was heavily pushing superpower
broadcasting as a counter-measure to wireless telephone interconnection between local stations,
monopolized by AT&T. He proposed that superpower stations would provide every home in the


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