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Communications Act of 1934

Communications Act of 1934 replaced the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission .

Before passage, there was an interesting debate in Congress. Senators Robert Wagner of New York and Henry Hatfield of West Virginia offered an amendment to the then proposed Communications Act. Educators wanted more of radio to be given to them; they had been termed a "special interest" by the Federal Radio Commission and their stations were forced to share frequencies. This amendment would have given 25% of all radio broadcasting facilities to non-profit institutions and organizations. It would also have allowed these educational stations to sell advertising in order to become self-sufficient. Senator C.C. Dill, a pro-industry spokesman opposed this amendment. It would have meant eliminating numerous commercial stations, but that is not what Dill publicly complained about. He expressed horror over the advertising. He said there was too much advertising already. Not all educators supported the advertising clause, so a compromise was struck. The issue was to be given to the new Federal Communications Commission to study and to hold hearings on and to report back to Congress. Hatfield and Wagner stuck to their guns, however, and proposed the bill anyway, the Hatfield-Wagner amendment died and the Communications Act was passed.

The Federal Communications Commission reported back, saying that commercial stations had ample time for educational and other public service programs. The Commission called for cooperation between commercial and educational interests and other non-profit groups. The educators lost, but the commercial broadcasters didn't exactly win, they had to put on public affairs programs.