Radio Advertising and Radio Regulation

May 25, 1932

Report Outline
Radio Commission Investigation of Broadcast Advertising
The Problem of Restricting Broadcast Advertising
Government Control of Radio Broadcasting Abroad
Government Regulation of Radio in United States
Use of Radio Facilities for Educational Purposes
Special Focus

Radio Commission Investigation of Broadcast Advertising

A Growing volume of complaints from radio listeners against excessive advertising in radio programs led to adoption of a resolution by the Senate, January 12, 1932, directing the Federal Radio Commission (1) to make a survey of the extent to which the nation's radio facilities were being used for commercial advertising purposes, (2) to report on possible plans to bring about the reduction or limitation of such use, (3) and to submit information on the feasibility of government control and operation of radio broadcasting. An amendment to the resolution directed the Commission to report also on the recognition accorded education in the distribution of radio facilities and in the programs of commercial stations. The Commission promptly undertook an exhaustive inquiry the results of which are expected to be transmitted to the Senate before Congress adjourns.

The forthcoming report will furnish material from which it should be possible to derive a fairer estimate of the extent to which use of radio facilities by commercial advertisers has become an abuse. To date, little dependable information on the subject has been made available. It is a matter of common knowledge, however, that the practices pursued by many radio advertisers have aroused widespread dissatisfaction among radio listeners. This dissatisfaction in turn has given rise to serious discussion as to the advisability of closing the broadcasting field to private enterprise and initiating a system of government control similar to that practiced in Great Britain, where commercial advertising is barred from the air. The British system has also been held up as a model by those who feel that the educational potentialities of radio have not been adequately utilized in this country.

Radio advertising has been more thoroughly developed in the United States than in any other nation. Having become the basis by which virtually the whole broadcasting industry is financed, it is now so firmly entrenched that all efforts to set up a fundamentally different system would encounter stubborn resistance. Since the value of radio advertising depends, however, upon favorable public acceptance of the programs thus sponsored, a strong incentive is held out to advertisers and broadcasters to correct voluntarily the abuses of which the radio audience complains. Failure to do so may be expected to intensify pleas for their correction by governmental action.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 29, 1994  Talk Show Democracy
Feb. 19, 1938  Regulation of Radio Broadcasting
May 25, 1932  Radio Advertising and Radio Regulation
May 21, 1931  Radio Competition with Newspapers
Mar. 31, 1924  Radio Development and Monopoly
Radio and Television
Regulation and Legal Issues