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Nicholas Johnson: The Public's Defender on the Federal Communications Commission, 1966-1973

A paper presented to the

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

Radio-Television Journalism Division

August 1996


Max V. Grubb

B.S.C. Ohio University 1979

M.A. Kent State University 1994

Doctoral Student Ohio University

10309 Porter Lane

Athens, Ohio 45701

(614) 797-3700



Despised by broadcasters and hailed by consumer advocates, Nicholas Johnson's 1966-1973 tenure at the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) was described as the most controversial in the history of the commission in a 1995 book. This paper examined Johnson's term as FCC commissioner to answer the following questions: 1) what events led him to be so outspoken?, and 2) what was it that caused broadcasters and others to criticize Johnson more than any other commissioner?


Despised by broadcasters and hailed by consumer advocates, Nicholas Johnson's 1966-1973 tenure at the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) was described as the most controversial in the history of the commission in a 1995 book. Broadcasters turned purple with rage at the mention of his name.1 The trade magazine, Broadcasting, was vindictive in its coverage of Johnson, referring to him as the "teenybopper on the FCC."2 Even within the commission Johnson was criticized. FCC Chairman Dean Burch denounced Johnson as a "demagogue, irresponsible, . . . [and] disrespectful."3

Yet others from these groups praised him for his work. FCC Commissioner Kenneth Cox often sided with Johnson on major issues. He noted that maybe Johnson's tactics were more successful compared with his conventional play-by-the-rules approach. Albert H. Kramer, founder and former director of the public-interest Citizen's Communication Center, noted that Johnson tried to "bring the American system to bear on the processes of government."4 Lawrence Leamer of Harper's Magazine observed,

What makes these remarks particularly noteworthy is that Johnson was an unknown to broadcasting before his nomination and confirmation as commissioner in June 1966.

Johnson's appointment to the FCC did not alarm broadcasters. His reputation as Maritime Administrator, for the previous two years, was noteworthy for turning around "the barnacle-encrusted merchant marine."6 Yet, Broadcasting described him as "no crack-down artist."7 However, at the end of Johnson's first year as FCC commissioner broadcasters were critical of his stewardship. This disposition would not change for the duration of Johnson's term as FCC commissioner.

His tenure as FCC commissioner raises some questions. There was no trepidation concerning his appointment, and his first months on the commission were quiet, although this changed at some point. Johnson's remaining years on the FCC were contentious, attracting broadcasters' anger. Certainly other FCC commissioners had drawn the criticism of broadcasters, but Johnson's was notable. Thus, after a few months as an FCC commissioner, what events led him to be so outspoken? In addition, what was it that caused broadcasters and others to criticize Johnson more than any other commissioner?

This paper examined Johnson's term as FCC commissioner to answer these questions. The writer explored the subject through broadcasting trade magazines, mass media magazines, the New York Times, congressional hearings, and FCC decisions. Various indexes were used to find articles concerning Johnson as FCC commissioner.

Articles from the industry magazines were examined to study the broadcasters' perspective on Johnson's tenure. This was contrasted with news items found in the New York Times and mass media magazines, including Newsweek, Harper's Magazine, The New Republic, Saturday Review, and The Nation. Comparison of news coverage between the mass and trade media offered information and insight on different viewpoints of Johnson. In addition, these items provided information from the perspective of individuals who interacted with Johnson.

Government indexes were used to discover testimony that Johnson gave as FCC commissioner and before congressional committees. In addition, articles and books published by Johnson during this period were reviewed. Important to this study was an interview with Johnson as well as an examination of his Internet World Wide Web home page. The interview provided background information and insight to decisions made during his term on the FCC. His Internet home page was a gold mine of information offering an exhaustive bibliography of speeches, FCC decisions, published articles and books, and news items concerning him. This showed the Internet's potential as a resource for research.

The writer reviewed the articles written during Johnson's tenure, looking for events, themes, relationship dynamics, and news framing. His congressional testimony, speeches, and published articles were examined to determine his positions on issues, philosophy, and events of the period.

Catalyst for a Public Defender

Johnson was nominated by President Lyndon Johnson to a seven-year term as an FCC Commissioner in June 1966. At the time, he had been serving as federal Maritime Administrator, a presidential appointment made two years earlier. He had been born three months after the FCC was formed, on September 23, 1934, in Iowa City, Iowa. The son of a university speech professor, he earned a B.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1956, and then a law degree, with honors, from the University of Texas in 1958.8

Upon admission that year to the Texas bar Johnson served as law clerk for Judge John R. Brown of the United States Court of Appeals for the fifth circuit (south). A year later he became a clerk for United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. In 1960, Johnson became a law professor at the University of California, and three years later he joined the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington and Burling. At the age of twenty-nine, Johnson appointed him to be Maritime Administrator in February 1964.9

According to Broadcasting, Maritime Administrator Johnson was known as "an imaginative man, one bubbling over with ideas on improving efficiency and, according to one congressional committee staff member, enamored of scientific innovations." He was noted as being hard working, brilliant, and aggressive. However, Broadcasting observed that Johnson had antagonized both ship builders and unions as Maritime Administrator.10

He controlled an annual budget of $350 million and supervised over 2,500 employees.11 During this period, Johnson criticized the $600-million program of ship construction and operating subsidies and proposed and enacted new subsidy policies that guided allocations for ship building that increased greater shipping productivity. He also developed policies that eliminated rigidities in scheduled sailings and permitted subsidized ship lines to build ships abroad to save labor costs.

Despite the shippers' difficulty with Johnson, Broadcasting noted during his appointment that he was "an unknown quantity."12 Johnson even confessed to his complete ignorance about issues confronting the commission. "I'm not only bring [sic] a professionally open mind," he stated, "but one that is practically open to this job."13 However, broadcasters might have been distracted since they were delighted with the appointment of Rosel H. Hyde as FCC chairman.14

Both Hyde and Johnson were nominated to the FCC at the same time. Hyde was first named to the commission in 1946 and was highly regarded by the FCC's staff. A conservative, he was considered broadcasting's friend since he believed in little regulation of the industry.

Johnson's confirmation process was uneventful. He offered little as to his position on issues concerning the FCC. Senator Peter H. Dominick asked him about the role of the FCC in determining the content of broadcasting. "That is a most sophisticated and involved matter as you are well aware," Johnson responded, "I would be very hesitant, I think, to express my views at this time without having first had the benefit of hearing from all those who do have an interest in it."15 Senator Frank J. Laushe noted that Johnson had been the only Maritime Administrator to bring the merchant marine to a high level of efficiency. Based on this recommendation, Committee Chairman Senator John O. Pastore observed that people like Johnson were rare in government and needed on the FCC.16

As noted, Broadcasting reported that Johnson was an unknown quantity, but also "no crack-down artist."17 It did observe that he was the youngest FCC Commissioner, at thirty-two, ever appointed.18 The New York Times offered little on Johnson's appointment, focusing more on Hyde's nomination. It was noted that "the president believes that Mr. Hyde will provide a steadying hand at the F.C.C. wheel, while Mr. Johnson will furnish an excitingly youthful perspective."19

Johnson's appointment and first few months as FCC Commissioner generated little concern among broadcasters. In October, he attended the National Association of Broadcasters' fall conference in Minneapolis. He indicated that all he knew about broadcasting was learned while listening to radio at home in Iowa. Suggesting that his questions would provide some sense of what was going on in his mind, he asked about Cable TV, spectrum allocations, educational TV, and an "examination of what the broadcasters thought of their role in public service."20

Broadcasters provided candid answers to Johnson's inquiries. He even asked if there was something the FCC was doing that they wish would stop. In addition, he asked how the commission could better serve the public interest in its role as broadcast regulator. Broadcasters noted that they should not be badgered every three years with a license renewal. Many had been in business for a long time, fulfilling their public interest obligations, and they observed that the commission loads broadcasters down with paperwork.21

Johnson's closing remarks at the conference offered broadcasters optimism that his tenure would not trouble them. Broadcasting observed that Johnson said he

He noted that perhaps the commission could get together with broadcasters to develop a study to find out what the FCC was all about. He offered that this might better inform the FCC on how to efficiently use its resources and how broadcasters could better do their job with less FCC regulations. Broadcasters had reason for optimism at Johnson's first public appearance as an FCC Commissioner, but this would soon change.

The first few months of Johnson's term were relatively quiet, offering time to get acclimated to the job. However, an event occurred that served as the catalyst for Johnson's initiation as a public defender on the FCC. Johnson recalls that the proposed American Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) merger with International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) was his "baptism of fire in a lot of ways."23 ITT, a multinational conglomerate, had announced a proposed merger with ABC, one of the three major television networks in the U.S., in 1966. The merger would have to be approved by the FCC since ABC owned both radio and television stations.24

Both Commissioner Kenneth A. Cox and Johnson expressed concern over the proposed merger. Broadcasting noted that ITT's "massive response . . . to the questions of three FCC commissioners concerned about the company's proposed merger with ABC Inc., led . . . to more--and more detailed--questions from two of the commissioners."25 Cox and Johnson felt that ITT's initial answers to the FCC's questions were incomplete and unclear. Through a letter, they asked more questions to clarify some of the answers, and to seek more information from ITT. In addition, the letter posed a hypothetical question which focused on a major issue in the case. ITT was asked if its foreign possessions "would adversely affect ABC's news-and-public-affairs programming."26

FCC Commissioner Lee Loevinger was critical of Cox's and Johnson's letter, accusing them of adjudicating by press release. The letter was considered a public matter and thus placed in the commission's public file. What Loevinger was really objecting to was that the letter was made available to the press.27 Less than a month later in December 1966, the FCC approved the merger by a four to three vote. The majority based their decision on the premise that the merger would financially strengthen ABC. Johnson filed his first opinion, an eighty-five page dissent.28

Broadcasting noted that the majority had been ready to act for weeks on the case, but were waiting for a completed study of the antitrust aspects of the case. The FCC had decided to forego a laborious and time-consuming hearing. Instead, an oral hearing was conducted. Johnson noted that there was an absence of anyone representing the public at the hearing. However, the majority defended the hearing as " painstaking and thorough."29

In a recent interview, Johnson stated,

Johnson's strongly worded dissent criticized the majority decision. He stated that the majority's handling of this case "makes a mockery of the public responsibility of a regulatory commission that is perhaps unparalleled in the history of American administrative processes."31 He observed that from the outset the outcome was a foregone conclusion.32

Johnson indicated in a 1996 interview that it was the ITT/ABC merger that caused him to be more vocal on the FCC. He observed that he "started off, both for solid reasons of substance and also for appearances, of being quiet, not writing dissents, listening, trying to learn, trying to find out what's going on." But this case astonished and surprised him.

The FCC would again vote to approve the merger six months later, after the Justice department asked the commission to reopen the case. The vote again was four to three with the same line-up of commissioners. This time Johnson was the principle author of a "blistering 131-page joint dissent."33 Eventually the ITT/ABC merger was aborted by ITT on New Years day, 1968, while a Justice Department's appeal of the FCC decision was pending.34

As a result of the ITT/ABC merger case, Johnson assumed a "David-Goliath" role on the FCC. It was a role that would increasingly attract the anger of broadcasters and fellow commission members. In March 1967, Johnson criticized the FCC's performance in reviewing programming proposals of license-renewal applicants. He noted that the FCC created the appearance that it was using the public interest standard during license renewal, when it actually did not do so.35

His criticism of the FCC continued throughout his term on the commission, attracting fellow members' ire. FCC Commissioners offered rebuttal to his attacks, but it was FCC Chairman Dean Burch who denounced Johnson's pattern of criticism in 1972. In response to Johnson's thirty-two page opinion criticizing the commission's action on cable TV, Burch released a twenty page statement that Broadcasting characterized as "a rare unburdening of one public official's attitude toward another."36 Burch described Johnson and his work as irresponsible and disrespectful. He labeled Johnson's cable TV opinion the culmination of "an incessant barrage of vilification, willful misrepresentation, and left-handed slander" that the young commissioner had directed at colleagues.37

Broadcasters also continued to criticize Johnson during his tenure. In February 1967, Broadcasting described the junior member of the FCC as an angry young man. The magazine noted that Johnson was "rapidly becoming the shrill and frequent critic of the action of his elders."38 There were instances when broadcasters demanded that he disqualify himself from license-renewal cases. The Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) felt that he "implied a threat against broadcasters at renewal time."39 Johnson had remarked at a GAB function that although they may not agree with him then, they "had better agree once every three years."40

In a 1972 editorial, Broadcasting noted that the commission might lose Johnson if he ran for the Senate. While speculating about his replacement, the industry trade journal observed that if this event should occur, "it can only elevate the agency's standards of performance and responsibility."41 In the editorial it was noted that there was "neither room not disposition here to review the record of Mr. Johnson's destructive service."42

The mass media offered a different perspective on Johnson's service on the FCC. In 1967, Newsweek noted that Johnson was making waves at the commission. He and Cox had recently used the renewal of 206 radio station licenses to rebuke the FCC for failing to demand a "minimum of public service programming."43 The magazine noted that half of Johnson's twenty-two opinions so far were dissents. The article observed that he was clearly different from the lackluster Chairman Hyde and noted that critics of broadcasting were hoping that Johnson was being groomed to replace Hyde.44

Ironically, Business Week, with its business readership, indicated in August 1969 that the only cardinal sin that Johnson had committed, according to broadcasters, was to tell the public how to complain effectively to the FCC. The magazine compared the broadcast industry's encounter with Johnson to "General Motors going after Ralph Nader."45 Although not a mass media magazine, Advertising Age observed that "if diversity of viewpoint is important, the long-range danger at the FCC may be from lack of advocates like Nick Johnson."46

The New York Times in a March 1970 review of Johnson's book, How to Talk Back to Your Television Set, observed that his role on the commission was that of "public defender instead of industry apologist."47 Christopher Lydon in a New York Times article in December 1970 discussed Johnson's criticism of the Nixon administration's use of television. The news item observed that Johnson's attack cited numerous items familiar to readers, such as Vice President Spiro Agnew's attack on TV commentators. Johnson was noted as saying that no administration before had assaulted the broadcasters as Agnew did. Lydon reported that Johnson said, "The press bears a special opportunity and responsibility in this regard. . . . It must investigate and expose the charades and facades."48 The news article was not critical of Johnson.

Robert Lewis Shayon, in the Saturday Review in April 1969, noted that the main thrust of Johnson's work was directed at creating "a healthier level of competition in the communications industry, particularly broadcasting."49 In a December 1971 issue of The New Republic, he observed, "It is an anomaly bordering on absurdity that so public-spirited an FCC commissioner cannot be reappointed."50 Shayon wrote that even Johnson's critics did not deny that he has been right on the major issues.51

Johnson's career as FCC commissioner was controversial and adversarial. It was the ABC/ITT merger case that served as the catalyst for him to begin his crusade as the public defender on the FCC. It was a role that he would play for the duration of his seven-year term. However, historically other commissioners also had been critical of the broadcast industry. The question then is why Johnson was characterized as the most controversial and hated commissioner ever to serve on the FCC.

The Most Controversial Commissioner

In an April 1969 article in the Saturday Review, Shayon observed that the FCC had gone through activist phases before, noting that "rebel commissioners have come and gone" from the FCC.52 Commissioners James L. Fly (1939-1944), Clifford J. Durr (1941-1948), Newton N. Minow (1961-1963), and Emil W. Henry (1962-1966) were noteworthy for their activism on the commission.53 So what was it that set Johnson apart from these earlier activists? Why was he considered the most hated commissioner in the history of the FCC?

In a 1996 interview with Johnson, he offered some observations concerning his notoriety. He felt that a variety of things he did invoked the broadcasters' wrath. Johnson noted that they were troubled by the substance of what he was saying, the fact that he liked to deal in ideas, by his thinking out loud, by his public criticism of them, and by a person who was not one of them exercising authority over their industry.54

The substance of Johnson's criticism went to the heart of many issues at the FCC. He wrote numerous long dissents that were often used by the courts to overturn an FCC decision.55 Johnson's approach to sounding out ideas and thinking out loud was evident in his first public meeting with broadcasters. As mentioned earlier, he verbally wondered if stations needed to go through a licensing process, suggesting that the FCC and broadcasters should study the subject.56 However, it was his other ideas, such as the formation of community groups to monitor and get involve with local broadcasters, that probably angered them.57

As mentioned earlier in this paper, Johnson publicly criticized broadcasting. In addition, his education and background clearly indicated that he was not from the broadcasting industry. These would be enough to enrage broadcasters. However, another element was left out. What Johnson did was educate the public on their rights in the broadcasting system. He informed them that the broadcaster was using the public's property, and that they had a right to see that this was used responsibly. Johnson wrote in one article,

Johnson not only informed the public of its rights concerning the broadcasters' responsibilities to the communities they serve, but he set an example to the public through his criticism of both the broadcasters and the FCC. Moreover, he did not follow the traditional route of quietly issuing dissents; instead, he took his message to the public. He accomplished this through a capable and idealistic staff with his assistants coming from Ivy League law schools. The output from Johnson's office was phenomenal. Leamer observed that "Johnson spoke or wrote on practically every area that touched communications."59

While other commissioners spoke to various audiences, usually broadcasters, it was a combination of the message and the amount of speeches that Johnson gave that set him apart. During his term, Johnson spoke more than 100 times to various audiences covering such subjects as broadcasting's local service, the public interest and broadcasting, television and violence, and the new consumerism. He was a guest on such shows as "Dick Cavett", "Face the Nation", "The Mike Douglas Show", and "Donahue" and was the only FCC Commissioner ever to be featured on the cover of The Rolling Stone.60

In addition to his speeches and television appearances, Johnson published a tremendous amount of material while on the FCC. During his seven-year tenure at the FCC, he published over 350 articles in various publications such as McCalls, TV Guide, Playboy, Columbia Journalism Review, Saturday Review, the New York Times, The New Republic, the United States Law Week, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and the Chicago Tribune. The titles for the articles covered a wide range of issues such as "Media Concentration," "The Wasteland Revisited," "The New Consumerism," "Tune In: They're Your Air Waves," and "What Do We Do About Television." In addition he wrote a book, How to Talk Back to Your Television Set.61

In a December 1973 interview with FCC Commissioner Cox, Broadcasting observed,

Johnson taught the public about their rights concerning broadcasting, and he did it unconventionally by going to them through articles, speeches, and television appearances. It was this, combined with his ideas and the substance of his criticism, that enraged the broadcasters.


Johnson's sin was that he did not play by the traditional rules. Instead of quietly dissenting, he publicized his criticism of the FCC and the broadcasting industry. More important, he went to the public and informed them of their rights. He told them that the airwaves were public property, and that it was within their rights to see it used responsibly. He enlightened them by example through articles and speeches that broadcasters were accountable to the public. Yet it was his desire to educate and get the public involved in the regulatory process that enraged broadcasters.

In a April 1969 article, Commonweal noted,

Johnson moved outside the system and stirred things up. During his seven-year tenure he became famous and admired as an advocate of citizen action in government. However, to broadcasters he represented a threat to the status quo, an FCC looking after their interests.

Johnson's public criticism and lengthy dissents did influence the FCC. Ironically, in a December 1973 retrospect of his tenure, Broadcasting noted negatively that "fear of Johnson's dissents persuaded the commission on several occasions to modify positions they were considering. And in a number of instances when he did not persuade the commission to change course, the dissenting opinions he wrote figured in court reversals of commission actions."64 Disapproved of by broadcasters, Johnson's approach was effective in making the FCC more responsive to the public's interest.


1 Gerald V. Flannery, ed., Commissioners of The FCC: 1927-1994 (New York: University Press of America, Inc., 1995), 147.

2 "Teenybopper on the FCC," Broadcasting, March 13, 1967, 94.

3 "Burch lets fly at Johnson," Broadcasting, February 21, 1972, 27. 4 Leonard Zeindenberg, "Retrospective: Seven Years And Five Months: A Look Back at The Tenure of Nick Johnson," Broadcasting, December 10, 1973, 24.

5 Lawrence Leamer, "The Sunset Ride of a TV Reformer: Nicholas Johnson's Career as a Flower in The Petrified Forest," Harper's Magazine, December 1973, 22-32.

6 "Logic Not Emotion," Broadcasting, June 27, 1966, 32.

7 "The New FCC," Broadcasting, June 27, 1966, 122.

8 "Nicholas Johnson," Current Biography, 1968, 203.

9 Flannery, Commissioners of The FCC: 1927-1994, 147.

10 "Logic Not Emotion," 32.

11 Ibid.

12 "Now it's The Hyde Era at The FCC," Broadcasting, June 27, 1966, 29.

13 "Logic Not Emotion," 32.

14 Broadcasters were delighted because they saw Hyde's appointment as an indication that an era had ended. Newton Minnow and E. William Henry had been sharply critical of broadcasters, offering sweeping proposals for change. Known as the new frontier period, broadcasters felt that with Hyde at the helm the commission would calm down. ("Now it's the Hyde era at the FCC," Broadcasting, 29).

15 U. S. Congress, Senate Committee on Commerce Hearings on Sundry Nominations. 89th Congress, 2nd Session, serial 89-84, June 23, 81.

16 Ibid., 80.

17 "The New FCC," 122.

18 "Now it's The Hyde Era at The FCC," 29.

19 Jack Gould, "The President's Stand: On the FCC, Education," New York Times, July 3, 1966, II, 11:1.

20 "Nick Johnson Asks Questions: Commissioner Asks NAB Conference How FCC Can Best Do Its Job," Broadcasting, October 31, 1966, 53.

21 Ibid., 54.

22 Ibid.

23 Telephone interview, Nicholas Johnson, February 27, 1996.

24 The FCC does not regulate the television networks. However, all radio and television ownership changes must be approved by the FCC, to determine if they are in the public interest. All three television networks own radio and television stations. Thus, the FCC indirectly regulates the networks via station ownership. A change in network ownership would require FCC approval.

25 "ITT Asked to Bare More Information: Cox and Johnson Want Still More Data on Merger, Loevinger Assails 'Trial by Press Release," Broadcasting, November 28, 1966, 62.

26 Ibid. The commissioner's hypothetical question concerning news coverage was in response to ITT's Chairman Geneen observation that "there can be no legitimate fear that the merger will adversely affect ABC's news-and-public-affairs programming." The commissioners were concerned since ITT owned foreign telephone companies. Their hypothetical question conjectured that if ITT owned a telephone utility in a country ruled by a military dictatorship, the government could force it to kill any adverse news programming on ABC. (Ibid.)

27 Ibid.

28 "New Giant in Broadcasting ," Broadcasting, December 26, 1966, 21-22.

29 Ibid., 24.

30 Telephone interview, Nicholas Johnson.

31 "New Giant in Broadcasting," 21.

32 Ibid.

33 "For ABC, ITT: 30 Days to Sweat," Broadcasting, June 26, 1967, 29.

34 Nicholas Johnson, "The Media Barons and The Public Interest: An FCC Commissioner's Warning," The Atlantic Monthly, June 1968, 46.

35 "Johnson Wants to Uplift Programs," Broadcasting, March 13, 1967, 46.

36 "Burch lets fly at Johnson," 27.

37 Ibid.

38 "Angry Young Man," Broadcasting, February 6, 1967, 94.

39 Another Broadside Against Johnson," Broadcasting, October 13, 1969, 72.

40 Ibid. During this period, broadcast station licenses were renewed every three years.

41 "Cooling It," Broadcasting, March 13, 1972, 74.

42 Ibid.

43 "Making Waves," Newsweek, April 10, 1967, 87.

44 Ibid.

45 "Trying to Swat the FCC's Gadfly," Business Week, August 30, 1969.

46 "Nick Johnson's Book Shows Why FCC Commissioner Worries Broadcasters," Advertising Age, March 16, 1970, 122.

47 John Leonard, "Book of The Times," New York Times, March 5, 1970, 37.

48 Christopher Lydon, "Government by TV Charged by Johnson of F.C.C.," New York Times, December 14, 1970, 87. Johnson accused the Nixon administration of manipulating news events and the suppression of dissent.

49 Robert Lewis Shayon, "Nicholas Johnson vs. Broadcasting: FCC's Teenybopper Under Fire," Saturday Review, April 12, 1969, 82.

50 Robert Lewis Shayon, "Two Bites of the Apple," The New Republic, December 11, 1971, 33.

51 Ibid., 22.

52 Shayon, "Nicholas Johnson vs. Broadcasting: FCC's Teenybopper Under Fire," 82.

53 Fly inherited a weak FCC. He served as chairman from 1939-1944. During this period, he developed the commission into a strong agency that engaged the broadcasters in long and dirty battles. Durr served on the commission from 1941-1948. He was noted as fighting quietly and steadily for the people's interest. He helped to prevent advertising control of radio, advocated balanced presentation of issues on the air, and promoted the provision of radio service for the one-third of the U.S. that was outside the daytime service area. Newton Minow served as FCC chairman from 1961-1963. Minow's tenure was distinguished for its vigorous application of the law. He became famous for his 'vast wastelands' speech, when criticizing television programming before a gathering of broadcasters. Emil W. Henry served as FCC commissioner from 1962-1966. When Minow left the commission Henry was appointed chairman. He was instrumental in reducing the influence of the three networks on evening TV programs. Henry pointed out broadcasting's shortcomings, but he usually did it with tolerance and humor (Flannery, Commissioners of The FCC, 60, 66, 126 & 129).

54 Telephone interview, Nicholas Johnson.

55 Shayon, "Two Bites of the Apple," 22.

56 "Nick Johnson Asks Questions," Broadcasting, 53.

57 Nicholas Johnson, "What You Can Do to Improve TV," Harper's Magazine, February 1969, 18-20.

58 Ibid., 15.

59 Leamer, "The Sunset Ride of a TV Reformer," 26.

60 Nicholas Johnson, Nicholas Johnson Archive [on-line], February 23, 1996, Available: Http:// and Http:// [NJ Note: As those accessing this article from this site know, the current main home page URL is:]

61 Ibid.

62 Zeindenberg, "Retrospective: Seven Years and Five Months: A Look Back At The Tenure of Nick Johnson," 24.

63 "Rippling The Waves," Commonweal, April 4, 1969, 60.

64 Zeindenberg, "Retrospective: Seven Years and Five Months: A Look Back At The Tenure of Nick Johnson," 26.

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