maintained that streaking had gotten more broadcasting attention that the problems of poor folks. And who was there to say him nay? The N.A.B. was the target of only one other organized protest, that staged by Houston feminist groups. Although the women’s demonstration was well-organized and boasted some clever placards \(“Stop stolidly ignored by the broadcasters. T’was a fair treat, if one has a turn for saturnine humor, to see the brush-cut delegates running the gantlet of female demonstrators and determinedly paying no mind to them or their signs. Head down, eyes front, hup. But the N.A.B. feels its own sense of swelling indignation and righteousness on the licensing question. In interview after interview, it became clear these folks have been bugged, man, maybe not personally, but they know of other broadcasters who have been bugged, y’understand, by all these kooks and that is not right. Actually, they’ve had the living bleep scared out of them. When a license is challenged, the FCC automatically suspends it. The FCC is not your basic streak of greased lightning in these procedures and you can have your license suspended for a year or more at a crack just because some ding-a-ling thinks you should promote the black janitor to anchorman. And that is a real problem. Because if you own a broadcasting facility, you may have $50,000 worth of radio communications equipment, but you can sell that station for $6 million. Because what you’re really selling is the FCC license. But if your license is .suspended, you are up Kickapoo Creek without a paddle. SEN. LLOYD Bentsen of Texas scratched the N.A.B. right where it itches. “How secure is your freedom under the First Amendment,” he inquired of the assembled balance sheets, “when you have the prospect of an ambiguous license renewal procedure hanging over your head like the Sword of Damocles? The future of TV and radio stations across this country is in question because of the present license renewal policy. … The uncertainty built into present procedures encourages mediocrity and blandness, and a marginal commitment on the part of the licensee. “And it affects the broadcaster not only at renewal time, but throughout the license time … A broadcaster who seeks to improve the quality of transmission and service must make long-term capital commitments. Since the cost of these investments cannot be amortized over a reasonable time period, the risk is unnecessarily high. [A depletion allowance for broadcasters?] The risk of arbitrary or capricious cancellation of this license places him in double jeopardy . I have introduced legislation in the Senate that would clear up the ambiguities and uncertainties of the renewal process by setting out, in plain language and well-defined terms, the authority of the FCC. Under this bill, renewal would be awarded to any applicant who is legally, financially and technically qualified. If his broadcast service during the preceding license period has reflected a good faith effort to serve the needs and interests of his area, and if he has not demonstrated a disregard for the law or for FCC regulations … And further, I propose to extend the present three-year licensing period to five years.” The broadcasters reacted like cats to catnip. Texas’ other senator distinguished himself by failing to appear at the convention at all. According to syndicated columnist Marianne Means, Sen. John Tower had been invited to fly to Houston with the President and to accompany him to his press conference there. Tower told the White House he was “too busy.” You will all recall that “Little John” got himself re-elected in 1972 largely on the ground that he was close to the President. Remember the TV ads with Nixon describing Tower as his “good friend and adviser?” Now that Nicholas Johnson has ended his “seven year itch,” as Wasilewski describes that gentleman’s tenure on the FCC, N.A.B.’s new champion trauma is pay-TV. During the four-day convention, Wasilewski appeared on an early-morning local talk show with a fellow from the FCC who calmly noted that if “in 10 years, we find there are 40 or 50 million Americans willing to pay to see television programs they can select on their own, without any commercial interruptions, then the entire structure of television as we know it today will be dramatically altered.” Wasilewski suddenly looked as though he’d had too many prunes for breakfast. THE N.A.B. seminar on “Meeting the Siphoning Threat” \(from should’ve been chaired by the Red Queen. Mondo bizarro. I’ve seen some 180’s in my time, but this was outstanding. These were the very same guys who, when discussing license challenges, dismissed demands for Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone 477-0746. Contributing Editors: Bill Brammer, Gary Cartwright, Joe Frantz, Larry Goodwyn, Bill Hamilton, Bill Helmer, Dave Hickey, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Larry L. King, Georgia Earnest Klipple, Larry Lee, Al Melinger, Robert L. Montgomery, Willie Morris, Bill Porterfield, James Presley, Buck Ramsey, John Rogers, Mary Beth Rogers, Roger Shattuck, Edwin Shrake, Dan Strawn, John-P. Sullivan, Tom Sutherland. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with her. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that she agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. BUSINESS STAFF Joe Espinosa Jr. C. R. Olofson The Observer is published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly from Austin, Texas. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Ac’t of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Single copy, 50c. One year, $8.00; two years, $14.00; three years, $19.00; plus, for Texas addresses, 5% sales tax. Foreign, except APO/FPO, 50c additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Change of Address: Please give old and new address, including zip codes, and allow two weeks. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. THE TEXAS OBSERVER One Texas Observer Publishing Co. 1974 Ronnie Du:4:er, Publisher A window to the South A journal of free voices EDITOR Kaye Northcott CO-EDITOR Molly !vim ASSOCIATE EDITOR John Ferguson EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger Vol. LXVI, No. 7 April 12, 1974 hicorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForumAdvocate.
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