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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  7 frequencies. The rationale was that setting up a hierarchy based on qualitative standards would only stifle technical progress. They argued that broadcasting was “wholly a technical question” that should be solved through “the use of quantitative criteria” to provide “the greatest good to the greatest number.” The discrimination could injure the scientific discoveries of the radio art, and technical progress itself would best dictate its own governing rules. The role of regulators should be limited to narrowly defined technical considerations to control “all radio transmitting stations” under “the same general law” without discriminating against any particular class of stations. 14 RCA had a clear purpose to identify its commercial activities with public service in consideration of popular conception and public utility application. It wanted to change the definition of toll broadcasting to “signifying radio broadcasting by a public service company for tolls,” instead of “where a charge is made for the use of the transmitting stations” as described in the Temporary Report. 15 Between December 1922 and January 1923, Westinghouse accelerated publicity campaigns to create public support of the idea of the limited number of national broadcasting stations. Through its four radio stations located in major cities, Westinghouse executives and engineers broadcast a seven-lecture series, which included vice president H. P. Davis’s speech. Davis promoted the view that the solution for interference would be to restrict the number of stations and suggested a two-tier system, which consisted of 25 high power stations in metropolitan cities with supplementation of 30 or 40 local stations at low power. Westinghouse criticized the “inefficient . . . miscellaneous bunch of broadcasters” causing chaotic conditions and wanted to eliminate them. It emphasized financial strength to nurture good programs and the technological superiority of its research laboratories to provide the best possible solution for the interference problem. It urged the public as an active corrector of the situation to write letters to

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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frequencies. The rationale was that setting up a hierarchy based on qualitative standards would
only stifle technical progress. They argued that broadcasting was “wholly a technical question”
that should be solved through “the use of quantitative criteria” to provide “the greatest good to
the greatest number.” The discrimination could injure the scientific discoveries of the radio art,
and technical progress itself would best dictate its own governing rules. The role of regulators
should be limited to narrowly defined technical considerations to control “all radio transmitting
stations” under “the same general law” without discriminating against any particular class of
stations.
14
RCA had a clear purpose to identify its commercial activities with public service in
consideration of popular conception and public utility application. It wanted to change the
definition of toll broadcasting to “signifying radio broadcasting by a public service company for
tolls,” instead of “where a charge is made for the use of the transmitting stations” as described in
the Temporary Report.
15
Between December 1922 and January 1923, Westinghouse accelerated publicity
campaigns to create public support of the idea of the limited number of national broadcasting
stations. Through its four radio stations located in major cities, Westinghouse executives and
engineers broadcast a seven-lecture series, which included vice president H. P. Davis’s speech.
Davis promoted the view that the solution for interference would be to restrict the number of
stations and suggested a two-tier system, which consisted of 25 high power stations in
metropolitan cities with supplementation of 30 or 40 local stations at low power. Westinghouse
criticized the “inefficient . . . miscellaneous bunch of broadcasters” causing chaotic conditions
and wanted to eliminate them. It emphasized financial strength to nurture good programs and the
technological superiority of its research laboratories to provide the best possible solution for the
interference problem. It urged the public as an active corrector of the situation to write letters to


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