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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  23 letter with the clipping of Times’ article attached: “This editorial is an accurate reflection, of my personal experience and of the listeners’ views. It is encouraging to see that Times understands, as do listeners, that the Department of Commerce has the interest of the listeners at heart.” 60 However, it stirred pending broadcasters and brought concerns and oppositions. The debate was set up as a choice between limitation of licensing and division of time among stations. RCA, GE, and Westinghouse focused on the publicity to persuade listeners and reduce concerns about local stations. Radio Broadcast was devoting much space to propagate the importance of limiting licenses for the protection of the existing Class B stations, particularly, “large corporate stations” in providing increased program choices to the listeners. 61 Radio Broadcast raised the question of whether “WEAF, WJZ, WNYC and WHN, which were quite popular and one of which was a municipal station on one’ own exclusive wavelengths, should be forced to share the wavelengths with unknown quality of new-comers: Would it interest the radio public?” The question was whether to oppose the licensing of new stations on the Class B bands. One licensee in Cincinnati argued, “First class stations should not be asked to divide time with third class ones.” The conflict was mainly from the expectation of profitability of broadcasting. The incumbent broadcasters attempted to secure their vested interests against new entries to the market. 62 The Fourth Conference in November 1925 decided that no new stations should be licensed until the number of existing stations was reduced. Hoover argued that increasing the number of stations by further dividing the time of the present stations (down to one or two days a week or one or two hours a day) could be “poorer public service” than operating full time of a limited number of “good stations.” The efficiency of capital investment in terms of quantity and quality in providing programs and station location were the rationale. Widening the broadcasting band was excluded from possible policy choices since the majority of receiving sets could not

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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23
letter with the clipping of Times’ article attached: “This editorial is an accurate reflection, of my
personal experience and of the listeners’ views. It is encouraging to see that Times understands,
as do listeners, that the Department of Commerce has the interest of the listeners at heart.”
60
However, it stirred pending broadcasters and brought concerns and oppositions. The
debate was set up as a choice between limitation of licensing and division of time among stations.
RCA, GE, and Westinghouse focused on the publicity to persuade listeners and reduce concerns
about local stations. Radio Broadcast was devoting much space to propagate the importance of
limiting licenses for the protection of the existing Class B stations, particularly, “large corporate
stations” in providing increased program choices to the listeners.
61
Radio Broadcast raised the question of whether “WEAF, WJZ, WNYC and WHN,
which were quite popular and one of which was a municipal station on one’ own exclusive
wavelengths, should be forced to share the wavelengths with unknown quality of new-comers:
Would it interest the radio public?” The question was whether to oppose the licensing of new
stations on the Class B bands. One licensee in Cincinnati argued, “First class stations should not
be asked to divide time with third class ones.” The conflict was mainly from the expectation of
profitability of broadcasting. The incumbent broadcasters attempted to secure their vested
interests against new entries to the market.
62
The Fourth Conference in November 1925 decided that no new stations should be
licensed until the number of existing stations was reduced. Hoover argued that increasing the
number of stations by further dividing the time of the present stations (down to one or two days a
week or one or two hours a day) could be “poorer public service” than operating full time of a
limited number of “good stations.” The efficiency of capital investment in terms of quantity and
quality in providing programs and station location were the rationale. Widening the broadcasting
band was excluded from possible policy choices since the majority of receiving sets could not


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