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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  21 with wider geographical coverage aiming at larger audiences. The bottom line of all the arguments was that broadcasters saw the profitability of the broadcasting business. The incumbent broadcasters’ demand for more power and more operation time and new broadcasters’ wish to enter the field were because they knew that “it pays to advertise.” 53 Privatization of the Public Interest: Restricting licensing In the end of 1924, it turned out that broadcasting could be a highly profitable business—not through radio sales or other publicity purposes—by “indirect” advertising (such as sponsored programs). Then, there was a growing demand for licenses, particularly Class B. Along with the attempt to create more Class B channels, Hoover activated the effort to gain legal power to limit station licensing. 54 The talk of no more licenses brought more applicants in the expectation of the profitability of broadcasting. To justify the denial of licenses to qualified applicants, Hoover and the radio corporation had to rely on a new interpretation of the public character of the broadcasting medium as well as a technological approach. Hoover, in December 1924, sent a letter to Congressman Wallace H. White, requesting a short emergency bill to clarify the powers of the Department to limit the number of stations. Such administrative power was the extra-legal regulatory enforcement under the 1912 Radio Act. Hoover needed to legitimize the regulation and needed the criteria to discriminate some applicants from others. 56 Hoover knew that a limitation policy would raise the issue of governmental censorship as well as monopoly. In the letter to White, he emphasized that “any attempt to give preference among stations in the allotment of wavelengths on the basis of quality of programs raises the question of censorship, the implications of which I cannot at present accept.” The limit upon the

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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with wider geographical coverage aiming at larger audiences. The bottom line of all the
arguments was that broadcasters saw the profitability of the broadcasting business. The
incumbent broadcasters’ demand for more power and more operation time and new broadcasters’
wish to enter the field were because they knew that “it pays to advertise.”
53
Privatization of the Public Interest: Restricting licensing
In the end of 1924, it turned out that broadcasting could be a highly profitable
business—not through radio sales or other publicity purposes—by “indirect” advertising (such as
sponsored programs). Then, there was a growing demand for licenses, particularly Class B.
Along with the attempt to create more Class B channels, Hoover activated the effort to gain legal
power to limit station licensing.
54
The talk of no more licenses brought more applicants in the
expectation of the profitability of broadcasting. To justify the denial of licenses to qualified
applicants, Hoover and the radio corporation had to rely on a new interpretation of the public
character of the broadcasting medium as well as a technological approach.
Hoover, in December 1924, sent a letter to Congressman Wallace H. White, requesting a
short emergency bill to clarify the powers of the Department to limit the number of stations.
Such administrative power was the extra-legal regulatory enforcement under the 1912 Radio Act.
Hoover needed to legitimize the regulation and needed the criteria to discriminate some
applicants from others.
56
Hoover knew that a limitation policy would raise the issue of governmental censorship
as well as monopoly. In the letter to White, he emphasized that “any attempt to give preference
among stations in the allotment of wavelengths on the basis of quality of programs raises the
question of censorship, the implications of which I cannot at present accept.” The limit upon the


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