Legislative Summary: Communications


Communication Facilities - Protection 
S. 1990 — Public Law 87-306, approved September 26, 1961 
Amends section 1362 of title 18 of the United States Code as a further protection of the internal security of the United States by providing penalties for malicious damage to certain communication facilities.

The amendment provides that whoever willfully or maliciously injuries or destroys any of the works, property, or material of any radio, telegraph, telephone or cable, line, station, or system, or other means of communication, operated or controlled by the United States, or used or intended to be used for military or civil defense functions of the United States whether constructed or in process of construction, or willfully or maliciously interferes in any way with the working or use of any such line, or system, or willfully or maliciously obstructs, hinders, or delays the transmission of any communication over any line, or system, will be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

In the case of any works, property, or material, not operated or controlled by the United States, however, this section does not apply to any lawful strike activity, or other lawful concerted activities for the purposes of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection which do not injure or destroy any line or system used or intended to be used for military or civil defense functions of the United States. 

Telecasting of Professional Sports Contests 
H.R. 9096 — Public Law 87-331, approved September 30, 1961 
Authorizes the member clubs of a professional football, baseball, basketball, or hockey league, to pool their separate rights in the sponsored telecasting of their games and to permit the league to sell the resulting package of pooled rights to a television network without violating the antitrust laws. It also provides that such package contracts cannot be used to impair college football gates receipts through network telecasts of professional football contests at times when college games are normally played.


Postal Rate Adjustment 
H.R. 7927 — Public Law 87-793, approved October 11, 1962 
Briefly, the bill provides for-

Postal rate adjustment. -   Estimated revenue increase of $603 million when fully effective in 1965. First-class letters increased from 4 to 5 cents an ounce, post cards from 3 to 4 cents, air mail from 7 to 8 cents an ounce, and airmail post cards from 5 to 6 cents - all effective January 7, 1963. Estimated revenue increase of $437.8 million from letters and post cards and $21.2 million from airmail in fiscal year 1963.

Second class increased 4 percent in each of three annual installments in the poundage rate for editorial content of publication, i.e., the current 2 ½ cent rate is increased to 2.8 cents in 1965. There are three annual increases, each approximating 10 percent in most of the poundage rates or advertising content, i.e., the current rate varying from 3 cents a pound mailing matter to the closest postal zone to 14 cents to the most distant postal zone, is increased to 4 and 14 cents. Three annual increases in minimum charge per copy, i.e., current one-half cent rate goes to 1 cent in 1965. Eliminated the free-in-county mailing and extended to all within-county mailings the existing 1 cent a pound and one-eighth cent minimum charge which now applies to certain categories of within-county mailings. At beginning of calendar year 1965, pound rate will rise to 1 1/4 cents and the minimum charge per piece to one-quarter cent. Raised by two-tenths cent per pound after 1964 rates on advertising content of publications mailed in zones 1 through 6. Estimated revenue increase of $26.6 million.

Controlled circulation publications increased from 12 to 12 ½ cents a pound for the first year and to 13 cents the second, and then to 13 ½ cents. Estimated revenue of $1 million.

Third-class single piece rate raised to 4 from 3 cents for first 2 ounces and from 1 ½ to 2 cents for each additional ounce; bulk rate increased in three annual installments from 2 1/2 cents minimum per piece and 10 and 16 cents a pound for books and circulars to 2 7/8 cents minimum per pound to 12 and 18 cents a pound. Retains present rates of postage on third-class matter mailed in bulk by qualified nonprofit organizations, i.e., 50 percent of regular rates. Continued in effect the current minimum per piece charge on bulk third-class mailings by nonprofit organizations. Estimated revenue increase of $97.2 million in fiscal year 1963.

Fourth-class postage rates on books, films, and similar educational materials increased from 9 cents for the first pound to 9 ½ cents during the first year and to 10 cents from then on; continues existing rate of 5 cents on each additional pound.

Communist Political Propaganda 
Reinstated the program of screening Communist political propaganda by the Treasury Department; such mail coming from foreign countries will be intercepted and delivered only upon request of the addressee within 60 days after notification. This does not apply to sealed letters, nor to matter addressed to Government agencies, libraries, colleges, universities, graduate schools, scientific or professional institutions for advanced studies; nor would it apply to material addressed for delivery in the United States pursuant to a reciprocal international agreement.

In signing the postal rate increase bill President Kennedy said:

I am delighted to approve H.R. 7927, which is a bill adjusting postal rates, reforming Federal white-collar statutory salary systems, and establishing a standard for adjusting annuities under the Civil Service Retirement Act.

The new postal rates will yield on an annual basis about $600 million of new postal revenues. This is consistent with the fiscal principles I have advocated and is an important step toward a self-sustaining postal system and toward a substantial reduction in the postal deficit.

Third- and Fourth- Class Mail 
H.R. 7559 — Public Law 87-484, approved June 15, 1962 
Under existing law medicines prescribed by a doctor and sent through the mail to the patient must be entered as first-class matter because of the written or typewritten directions; however, patent medicines may be sent as third- and fourth-class matter because their directions are printed and can qualify for entry into the mails at a rate less than first class.

This act removes this inequity by permitting prescription medicine to be sent at the same rate as the patent medicine.


Amateur Radio Operators 
S. 920 — Passed Senate October 16, 1963; pending in House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee 
Amends provisions of the Federal Communications Act of 1934 dealing with operators and station licenses to permit the FCC to authorize alien amateur radio operators to operate their amateur radio stations in the United States, its possessions, and Puerto Rico, provided there is in effect a bilateral agreement between the United States and the alien's government on a reciprocal basis.

The primary purpose of the bill is to help American citizens - not only tourists but also those who reside overseas, such as military personnel, diplomatic personnel, missionaries, Peace Corps workers, and others who may wish to pursue their amateur radio hobby while away from home. 

Communications Act - Petitions 
S. 1193 — Passed Senate September 25; pending in House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee 
Requires that petitions for intervention in hearings for a broadcasting license be filed with the Federal Communications Commission within 30 days after publication of the issues in the Federal Register.

Under existing law when an application has been designated for hearing, any party in interest who has not been notified of the hearing can acquire the status of a party to the proceeding by filing a petition for intervention showing the basis for his interest at any time prior to 10 days of the actual start of the hearing. This procedure interferes with the expeditious handling and disposition of hearing cases.

Equal Opportunity 
House Joint Resolution 247 — Passed Senate, amended October 2, 1963 
Suspends for the 1964 campaign the equal opportunity requirements of section 315 of the Communications Act of 1934 for nominees for the offices of President and Vice President.

This suspension is for 60 days immediately preceding November 3, 1964 - voting date for the national election. The provision of section 315(a) suspended by this legislation requires a licensee of a broadcast station who permits any legally qualified candidate for a public office to use the broadcasting station to afford equal opportunities to all other candidates for that office in the use of the broadcasting station. The censorship provision, however, remains intact.

This legislation also provides that the FCC must require broadcasting stations and networks to make such reports as may be necessary to enable the Commission to report to Congress not later than May 1, 1965, on the effect of this legislation on the 1964 presidential and vice presidential campaign, and on the role of broadcasting stations and net works in other political campaigns during 1964.

Mail Transportation 
H.R. 5179 — Public Law 88-239, approved December 23, 1963 
Authorizes the Postmaster General to negotiate and enter into agreements with motor vehicle passenger-carrying common carriers, without advertising for competitive bids and without bond, for transporting mail over established routes on which the carrier is permitted by law to carry passengers.

Non-Broadcast Operations 
S. 1005 — Passed Senate, September 25; pending in House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee 
Authorizes the Federal Communications Commission to grant special temporary authorizations for 60 days in those cases where an application for a special temporary authorization is filed pending filing an application for regular operation.

Postal Appropriations 
H.R. 5795 — Public Law 88-51, approved June 29, 1963 
Authorizes a 3 year suspension of restrictions on withdrawals of postal appropriations from the Treasury.

Under existing law the Postmaster General is required to certify that costs of fourth-class parcel post do not exceed revenues by more than 4 percent and, if this relationship does not exist, that he has petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to approve a rate adjustment which will bring costs and revenues within this 4 percent tolerance. If he does not make this certification to the Treasury Department, he may not make withdrawals from the Treasury of funds appropriated for the operation of the Post Office Department.

The Postmaster General stated that he cannot in good conscience petition for a rate increase on parcel post because Department studies show rate increases for parcel post would be self-defeating. Rate increases, according to Department calculations, would reduce volume and thus increase the gap between costs and revenues. Thus the Department required relief as provided by this bill if disruption of postal service was to be avoided.

Postal Stations 
H.R. 5778 — Public Law 88-219, approved December 21, 1963 
Grants new authority to the Postmaster General to establish stations, substations, or branches of post offices within 20 miles of the limits or boundaries of a city in which the main post office is located (present limitation is 10 miles).

Establishes stations, substations, or branches of post offices at airports regardless of the distance of the airport branch from the limits or boundaries of the city in which the main or parent post office is located.