Broadcasting (Apr - June 1960)

Record Details:

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FCC’s ‘U-2’ UNIT TAKES OFF Complaints & Compliance Div. awaits funds approval from Senate before completing setup John Harrington, top assistant to FCC Broadcast Bureau Chief Harold Cowgill, last week was appointed to head the new Complaints & Compliance Div. of that bureau (Broadcasting, May 23). A veteran of nearly 25 years of government service, Mr. Harrington assumed his new duties immediately. With the activation of the new investigative office, the old Compliance Branch of the Renewal & Transfer Div. was abolished and three professional staffers from that arm were transferred to Mr. Harrington’s division. They included Leroy Schaaff, veteran FCC investigator, Bill Hunter and Louis Bryant (see Week’s Headliners). Further staffing of the intelligence branch will be accomplished by transfer of personnel and hiring of new men, the commission said. Before the Senate is a request for $300,000 to finance the investigative operations with an eventual staff of 25, exclusive of clerical help, planned. Pending a congressional appropriation, the functions of the new division will be carried on with the assistance of a special task force of commission personnel, the agency said. This task force, headed by renewals chief Ed Brown, was organized in April to investigate complaints and information relating to station compliance with Sec. 317 (sponsor identification), especially payola. Its efforts have been concentrated in the Boston and New York areas (Broadcasting, May 16). No Censorship ■ FCC Chairman Frederick W. Ford reiterated last week that the new compliance branch would not be guilty of censorship nor would it dictate individual programming to stations. He said that much could be accomplished of benefit to the industry through issuance of citations to station violators of non-technical rules who, it was pointed out, in many instances probably were not even aware of their transgressions. He stressed that the commission is not interested in looking into the drawers, closets and secret files of stations. As outlined earlier before the Senate by Chairman Ford, the new office would have two chief functions: (1) immediate, thorough and effective on-the-spot investigations of complaints received by the FCC; (2) spot checks, through monitoring, of selected stations to make sure their programming matches representations made to the commission. Of the $300,000 requested from Congress, $210,000 is earmarked for personnel, $42,000 for travel and $48,000 for monitoring and “other objects.” Pending congressional action on the request for more money, the intelligence-surveillance arm will operate on a limited scope, “subject to budgetary limitations.” This Man Harrington ■ Mr. Harrington is a 1932 graduate of Holy Cross and received his LL.B. from Georgetown U. Law School in 1940. A 49year-old native of Massachusetts, he entered government service with the FCC’s Harrington Broadcaster's big brother FBI in 1936, although he was not an agent. He also has seen service with the Federal Security Agency and has had two separate stints with the Justice Dept. The chief investigator left Justice in 1946 for a two year tour of duty with the FCC. In 1948 he returned to Justice, where he was in the lands division, serving eight more years before going back to the commission in 1956. Soon thereafter, Mr. Harrington was assigned to the office of the chief of the Broadcast Bureau where he served until last week’s appointment. Magnuson drops a hint he may help Sen. Warren G. Magnuson (DWash.) last week hinted the Independent Offices Appropriations Subcommittee he heads may go along with the FCC’s request for more money to keep broadcast stations under surveillance for violations of laws and FCC rules and to compare performances with promises made at license renewal time. But, he said, the subcommittee report on the appropriations bill (HR 11776) will specify that the FCC is not to get into programming censorship. The bill for various government agencies already carries a House-approved FCC budget of $12,945,000 for fiscal 1961 including $2 million for a two-year study of uhf propagation in New York City. The FCC has asked the Senate for $300,000 more to set up a special group of investigators. Sen. Magnuson, who also is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over the FCC and other federal regulatory agencies, said his own sentiment is that the FCC should use the money it’s requesting to expand its existing Broadcast Bureau — not set up the proposed new Complaints and Compliance Division — for its investigative work. The FCC did not present the new investigative program in the Budget Bureau request to the House earlier this year and if the Senate were to approve the $300,000 or any other sum for that purpose the House would act on it for the first time by agreeing or disagreeing to the Senate amendment. The House in April cut $315,000 from the FCC’s budget request, allowing a total personnel increase of 31 instead of 62 requested. The new FCC request by coincidence would replace $300,000 of the $315,000 cut but for a different use. FCC Chairman Frederick W. Ford in testimony before the Senate appropriations group said 10 staffers already have been detailed to the proposed new unit (Broadcasting, May 30) and that it will go ahead regardless of whether or not it gets the appropriations. 70 (GOVERNMENT) BROADCASTING, June 6, 1960