WASHINGTON (Jun. 19)
The Federal Communications Commission renewed this weekend the license of a California radio station which the agency agreed had carried anti-Semitic programs.
By a vote of five to one, the FCC said it could not act as a censor over such material carried by Station KTYM of Inglewood. The FCC noted that KTYM had offered the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith a chance to reply to the broadcasts. The ADL, which had filed a protest and a demand that the license not be renewed, had rejected the offer. Observers called the ruling a landmark in its recent rulings aimed at allowing broadcasters maximum freedom to decide what is broadcast.
The ADL had complained that three programs in October of 1964 and May of 1965 entitled “Richard Cotten’s Conservative Viewpoint” linked Jews to Communism and contained personal attacks on the ADL and its staff members. The FCC, in its ruling, held that the first broadcast contained an attack on the ADL and its general counsel, Arnold Forster.
The FCC said, in its ruling that the commissioners had “the strongest personal feelings against the views represented by the assailed broadcasts.” The Commission added, however, that its actions “must be governed by legal principles rather than the personal feelings of commissioners.” It said that the other broadcasts did not contain personal attacks on the ADL or its officials “but did contain statements that can be regarded as anti-Semitic and that will surely be highly offensive to many persons of the Jewish faith as well as to fair-minded people of other faiths.”
The FCC declared that whether the broadcasts were “proper, or were false and defamatory, or were anti-Semitic, or were in the public interest” was not a legal issue for the FCC to consider. It added that “the commission cannot put such matters in issue without becoming the censor of broadcasting which it is forbidden to do.” The dissenting commissioner, Kenneth A. Cox, called the decision “incredible.” He urged a hearing on the issue.