Radio, Television and Society

By Charles A. Siepmann | Go to book overview
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V
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE LISTENER
d'Get what you want, or you will be forced to like what you get.' --BERNARD SHAW

OUR system of broadcasting is frequently described and justified. as being democratic. If this is the fact, the broadcaster is accountable to the public and the public should have the final voice in radio's operation. How far is this true in practice?

We have previously described the system as one of free, competitive enterprise within a framework of governmental regulation. But this is inadequate as a definition since it omits, except by implication, any reference to the public. We might better describe our system as involving a triangular relationship comprising the industry, the FCC, and the listening public.1 The public constitutes the base of the triangle.

That our system was intended by its authors to be democratic, in theory, at any rate, is borne out by some of the facts already reviewed. The air waves belong to the people. Broadcasters have only temporary and conditional access to them. The primary condition of such access has reference to public interest. Both the extent and the limitations of the FCC's powers like

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The advertiser, too, has acquired such power that he warrants inclusion among the 'forces' at work. But our system does not officially acknowledge his role. He is, or should be, like the 'expert,' of whom someone has said that he should be on tap but never on top.

-69-

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