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Perlmutter Urges Fcc to Reconsider Granting Free Speech Protection to Kansas Station Airing Racist T

June 17, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Nathan Perlmutter, director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, has called on the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its decision which granted free speech protection to a Kansas radio station that broadcast threats of violence and death against Jews, Blacks and other minority groups.

“The FCC loftily asserted that broadcast speech is protected under the First Amendment, no matter how offensive,” Perlmutter declared during the ADL’s national commission meeting recently. “Fair enough, but is it offensive or is it a calculated warning of intention to murder to broadcast, ‘We’re gonna cleanse our land. We’re gonna do it with the sword. And we gonna do it with violence’.”

The FCC last April rejected petitions to deny the license renewal application of radio station KTTL-FM in Dodge City based upon program content. The FFC, in its decision–the text of which has not yet been released– cited the First Amendment and section 326 of the Communications Act which “prohibit it from censoring broadcast material.”


Instead, the FCC said it was confining its review of the case to the “basic qualifications of the licensee,” including the issue of tax liability judgements brought against the station. KTTL broadcast a series of racist and anti-Semitic programs in 1983.

According to Perlmutter, the KTTL broadcasts called on listeners to collect data such as addresses, phone numbers and car license plate numbers to pinpoint Jews, including leaders and to set up roadblocks to ambush them.

“The FCC, ” Perlmutter told the ADL gathering here, “found that these and other like statements did not spur violence or illegal activities …. What is it that makes a broadcasted four letter word taboo but threatened murder acceptable?”


Perlmutter also made public a letter he sent to FCC chairman Mark Fowler protesting the FCC decision. “Inflamatory calls to violence and murder directed to specific targets do not qualify for the constitutional protection of the First Amendment,” the letter stated.

“For the FCC to accord them the protection by inaction is to render meaningless the traditional FCC standard that broadcast licenses must operate so as to serve ‘the public interest’,” it added.

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