WASHINGTON (Sep. 4)
The Federal Communications Commission today began an investigation as to whether Radio Station WJR, Detroit, from where Charles E. Coughlin’s broadcasts originate, acted in “the public interest, convenience and necessity” in barring from the air the Rev. Walton E. Cole, pastor of the First Unitarian Church at Toledo, Ohio. Rev. Cole had contracted for time to answer Coughlin’s veiled attacks on the Jews and he had intended to charge the “radio priest” with pro Nazi tendencies.
If the commission finds WJR failed to act “in the public interest,” it can refuse to renew the station’s licence. JAMES L. FLY, F.C.C. chairman sent a letter to Station WJR demanding to know why it had refused to allow Cole to go on the air although the broadcast had been arranged and the text passed as not libelous by the station’s althorney. He also sent a letter to Rev. Cole in which he said the F.C.C. could not compel WJR to allow him the freedom of the air but could and would take up the broader matter of “public interest.”
Slowie’s letter to Cole said:
“Except in cases involving the use of facilities of a broadcasting station by regularly qualified candidates for public office, the commission has no power to compel a station to permit a particular individual to use its facilities. Any right of redress which you may have by reason of a contractual relationship with station WJR pertaining to the use of its facilities cannot be adjudicated by this commission but is a matter for the courts.
“Inscfar as your complaint states WJR is acting as a vehicle for one-sided propaganda rather than for free disoussion of controversial subjects it will be investigated by this commission and the incident described considered as it may bear upon whether WJR is operating in the public interest.”