Communications: Unification and Regulation

February 15, 1930

Report Outline
American Communication Systems
Proposal for American Radio-Cable Merger
The Regulation of Communications
Proposal for Federal Commission on Communications
Public Policy and the Control of Communications

American Communication Systems

Many baffling problems confront the radio and wire communication services of the United States today and the government in its dealings with the companies rendering these services. Prominent among the problems at present commanding public attention are those raised by conflicts of radio patent rights and charges of attempted monopoly; the complicated questions involved in the distribution of licenses among applicants for wave lengths and the equalization of radio transmission and reception among the five regional zones into which the country has been divided by law; the question whether or not competition shall continue in the field of international communications; and the general problem of public regulation of communication services.

While all of these problems are much in the public mind, the last two have the greatest significance in that they involve questions of public policy which are pressing for prompt decision. First, shall American cable and radio companies be allowed to merge their international record-communication services? And, second, shall Congress create a new federal commission to regulate the communication of intelligence by telephone, telegraph, cable, and radio?

Both these questions have been subjected to prolonged investigation by the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce, of which Senator James Couzens, R., Michigan, is chairman. The committee's inquiry began last May after Senator Couzena had introduced a bill, April 18, 1929, “to provide for the regulation of the transmission of intelligence by wire or wireless.” Public hearings were held in May and June and were resumed in December, 1929. Since December 4 the committee has met frequently and has examined officials of the leading communicating and broadcasting companies upon all the problems mentioned above and many others. The hearings ended on February 8 and it is expected that the committee will report its recommendations on the Couzens bill to the Senate before the end of the month.

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Feb. 15, 1930  Communications: Unification and Regulation
Radio and Television
Regulation and Legal Issues