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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  22 number of stations would make the possession of a license “commercially valuable.” This “privilege” would bring a monopoly. Nevertheless, Hoover argued that the licensing period of less than three months made property rights in the ether belong to the government. Therefore, the government could still control the airwaves in the public interest whenever it looked necessary. 57 To get away from the possible controversy of censorship and monopoly, Hoover framed his authority as controlling only “technical problems” of “wave lengths, power, apparatus and time of operation” leaving the big issues of regulation until the full development of radio technology would be achieved. He wanted to narrow the problems to the matter of controlling transmitting power and policing interference. 58 At one level, limitation of licensing was a necessary policy measure since the Commerce Department had to abandon the implementation of the original allocation plan made in the previous Conference. In February 1925, there were already 578 stations with 175 pending applications for new licenses. In addition to about 110 existing Class B stations, more than 21 additional Class B stations were under construction or planned. The worst congestion conditions were at Chicago and New York. Hoover stated in the press release that new entries could not be assured the allocation at Class B. Through radio talks and publicity campaigns, Hoover was sounding out the public opinion on his new policy. The “rule of public convenience and necessity” was suggested for technical discrimination to avoid the impression that the government would give privileges to certain private enterprises in the use of the public airwaves. Hoover maintained that the public interest principle would make the field of private enterprise enter that of public service. 59 Right after Hoover’s press release, the editorial of the New York Times issued on February 10, 1925 said, “New York City already has all the broadcasting stations it needs, and more” and supported the granting of power to Hoover to restrict licensing. Goldsmith of RCA was satisfied with the reaction and said to Judge S. B. Davis, Acting Secretary of Commerce, in a

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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number of stations would make the possession of a license “commercially valuable.” This
“privilege” would bring a monopoly. Nevertheless, Hoover argued that the licensing period of
less than three months made property rights in the ether belong to the government. Therefore, the
government could still control the airwaves in the public interest whenever it looked necessary.
57
To get away from the possible controversy of censorship and monopoly, Hoover framed
his authority as controlling only “technical problems” of “wave lengths, power, apparatus and
time of operation” leaving the big issues of regulation until the full development of radio
technology would be achieved. He wanted to narrow the problems to the matter of controlling
transmitting power and policing interference.
58
At one level, limitation of licensing was a
necessary policy measure since the Commerce Department had to abandon the implementation
of the original allocation plan made in the previous Conference.
In February 1925, there were already 578 stations with 175 pending applications for
new licenses. In addition to about 110 existing Class B stations, more than 21 additional Class B
stations were under construction or planned. The worst congestion conditions were at Chicago
and New York. Hoover stated in the press release that new entries could not be assured the
allocation at Class B. Through radio talks and publicity campaigns, Hoover was sounding out the
public opinion on his new policy. The “rule of public convenience and necessity” was suggested
for technical discrimination to avoid the impression that the government would give privileges to
certain private enterprises in the use of the public airwaves. Hoover maintained that the public
interest principle would make the field of private enterprise enter that of public service.
59
Right after Hoover’s press release, the editorial of the New York Times issued on
February 10, 1925 said, “New York City already has all the broadcasting stations it needs, and
more” and supported the granting of power to Hoover to restrict licensing. Goldsmith of RCA
was satisfied with the reaction and said to Judge S. B. Davis, Acting Secretary of Commerce, in a


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