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John L. Griffith and the Commercialization of College Football Broadcasts in the Depression Era
Unformatted Document Text:  O’Toole/John L. Griffith and the Commercialization of College Football Broadcasts in the Depression Era considered to be intrusive, offensive, and detrimental to the development of programming. 10 Wisconsin’s first radio director echoed that sentiment, noting that university broadcasters “do not care to have their programs sandwiched in between advertisements for dog-biscuits and hair tonic.” 11 University broadcasters might well have continued to air their own intercollegiate games except that the regulatory structure devised by the Commerce Department in the 1920s and maintained by the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) anointed a marketplace model as the only possible system of American broadcasting. The dominant commercial networks then struck deals with profit-minded athletic directors and conference commissioners who had the tacit blessing of cash-strapped administrators. This explanation builds upon McChesney’s history of media regulation in the United States which documented the existence of a vigorous reform movement that opposed a strictly commercial system of media and offered an alternative—non-profit or public radio. McChesney argues that the reformers were marginalized by the entrenched political and economic powerbrokers who styled a competitive, free-market media system as “the American Way.” 12 The radio industry used that term to distinguish the marketplace model as the Golden Mean between what it claimed were the two extremes represented by the socialistic British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Nazi government-controlled radio of Hitler’s Germany. For example, in 1933, one news commentator in Broadcasting magazine criticized the news dispatches emanating from Germany and proclaimed that under the “American system” of broadcasting “the federal government has not yet been given the power to censor radio programs or to maintain federal broadcasting stations on preferred channels, to force-feed the American public on propaganda of the administration in power.” 13 Three years later, FCC Chairman 5

Authors: O'Toole, Kathleen.
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O’Toole/John L. Griffith and the Commercialization of College Football Broadcasts in the 
Depression Era 
considered to be intrusive, offensive, and detrimental to the development of programming.
Wisconsin’s first radio director echoed that sentiment, noting that university broadcasters “do not 
care to have their programs sandwiched in between advertisements for dog-biscuits and hair 
tonic.”
 University broadcasters might well have continued to air their own intercollegiate 
games except that the regulatory structure devised by the Commerce Department in the 1920s 
and maintained by the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) and the Federal Communication 
Commission (FCC) anointed a marketplace model as the only possible system of American 
broadcasting. The dominant commercial networks then struck deals with profit-minded athletic 
directors and conference commissioners who had the tacit blessing of cash-strapped 
administrators. 
This explanation builds upon McChesney’s history of media regulation in the United 
States which documented the existence of a vigorous reform movement that opposed a strictly 
commercial system of media and offered an alternative—non-profit or public radio.  McChesney 
argues that the reformers were marginalized by the entrenched political and economic 
powerbrokers who styled a competitive, free-market media system as “the American Way.”
The radio industry used that term to distinguish the marketplace model as the Golden Mean 
between what it claimed were the two extremes represented by the socialistic British 
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Nazi government-controlled radio of Hitler’s Germany. 
For example, in 1933, one news commentator in Broadcasting magazine criticized the news 
dispatches emanating from Germany and proclaimed that under the “American system” of 
broadcasting “the federal government has not yet been given the power to censor radio programs 
or to maintain federal broadcasting stations on preferred channels, to force-feed the American 
public on propaganda of the administration in power.”
 Three years later, FCC Chairman 
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