The sustained attack on the AT&T monopoly also effected the development of the radio network. This was because, although radio as a medium of mass communications depended on single point distribution, transmission masts, the creation of national radio networks relied on linking these central transmitters in the first instance by wires. In the United States, this once more involved AT&T. As we have seen, AT&T was one of the radio pioneers and had involved itself in running radio stations until 1926. But that same year a new opportunity opened up.
RCA had decided to aid the sale of receivers and studio equipment by providing a central supply of programme material. As with the record industry’s view that disks were essentially a sales promotion device useful in marketing record players, so the radio industry determined that programs should be given away (as it were) to encourage receiver sales. RCA therefore established the National Broadcasting Company to do this and set about linking its licensed stations and encouraging others to affiliate with this new service. It would, of course, take advertising although, until the late 1920s, it seems that commercials were only imperfectly perceived as a major potential source of revenue. From 1926 until the turn of the decade, Sarnoff, for example, presented NBC as a public service giving away programming to help sell sets and only using advertisements ‘to subsidise high-quality non-commercial fare’ (McChesney 1990:30). On the other hand, this high-mindedness did not stop William Paley, who came to radio primarily as an advertiser, from establishing a rival, the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1927. Clearly the logic of commercials suggested the creation of ever larger audiences, i.e. networks; the more people listening to a programme, the cheaper the cost of each household to the sponsors of that programme.
Following the measure of stability brought by the establishment of the FRC, this logic took hold. Networks, although the FRC legislation had not contemplated