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Letter to Broadcasters from Benjamin S. Rosenthal



Letter to Broadcasters from Benjamin S. Rosenthal


Letter to Broadcasters endorsing Public Interest Communications and their public service campaign to educate consumers regarding the energy crisis.


Energy and environment
Fairness doctrine (Broadcasting)


Rosenthal, Benjamin




Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives (New York, N.Y.)




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United States


Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington D.C. 20515

March 11, 1974

Dear Broadcaster:

The major oil companies are spending millions of advertising dollars to broadcast their views on "The Energy Crisis.” We are appealing to the nation’s broadcasters to exercise their responsibility under the "Fairness Doctrine" of the Federal Communications Act to assure that the public is fully and fairly exposed to all sides of the energy crisis controversy.

The Federal Communications Act requires that broadcasters present all divergent responsible viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance. Achieving this balance is especially crucial now, in light of the heavy volume of oil industry advertising which advocates a partisan position.

As energy industry advertising has turned from product promotion to political advocacy aimed at influencing public opinion, the citizen has not been afforded a fair opportunity to present the other side. We believe that adequate access for consumers, environmentalists, labor groups, and all concerned citizens is essential if the public is to make intelligent and well-informed decisions about the energy crisis and future energy policy. The ability of all segments of the national community to communicate their viewpoints on important public issues is fundamental to the workings of a democracy and is assured to all by the First Amendment. It is equally important that citizens have the right to communicate in the most effective format possible, the format that has been utilized so heavily by the oil industry: the short 30- or 60-second spot announcement broadcast during prime viewing time.

We endorse the efforts of groups like Public Interest Communications who are endeavoring to make media resources and materials available to groups holding divergent views of the energy situation. We urge your cooperation with their efforts and with the efforts of many other citizen groups seeking access on both a local and national level.

The Supreme Court has held that the "Fairness Doctrine" is designed to protect the paramount First Amendment rights of viewers and listeners to be exposed to all sides of important public controversies. By providing public service air time for the spot announcements produced by organizations like Public Interest Communications, you will not only be fulfilling your essential legal and constitutional obligation, but• you will also be proving that broadcasters can truly serve the public interest. You have a special opportunity, and a special responsibility, to provide access to the public air waves for citizens to participate in this crucial national debate. We hope you will respond favor ably to their petition for public service air time.

Joining the Members of Congress sending this letter are Public Interest Communications, Inc.; Media Access Project, Inc.; Environmental Policy Center; Environmental Action Foundation, and Consumer Federation of America.

Benjamin Rosenthal, M.C.

Other Members of Congress signing are:
Bella Abzug, M.C.
Brock Adams, M.C.
Herman Badillo, M.C.
George E. Brown, Jr., M.C.
Ronald V. Dellums, M.C.
Robert F. Drinan, M.C.
Don Edwards, M.C.
Michael Harrington, M.C.
Henry Helstoski, M.C.
Elizabeth Holtzman, M.C.
Edward I. Koch, M.C.
Joe Moakley, M.C.
Patricia Schroeder, M.C.
John Conyers, Jr., M.C.
James G. Abourezk, U.S.S.

Original Format

8.5 x 11 inches (216 x 279 mm)


Rosenthal, Benjamin, “Letter to Broadcasters from Benjamin S. Rosenthal ,” Queens College Archives and Special Collections, accessed August 16, 2018,