Radio Age, April, 1924, page 56:
Is Broadcasting Monopoly Possible?
IF THE American Telephone and Telegraph Company controls telegraph and telegraph wires throughout the United States, why cannot the company control rebroadcasting? All that is necessary, it seems, is to either refuse to permit the use of wires with which to transmit speech, song or music to the station desiring to rebroadcast.
There have been definite statements that the American Telephone and Telegraph Company seeks a broadcasting monopoly. The company has stations at New York, Washington and Providence, and these three stations were the only ones which broadcast President Coolidge's speech on Washington's birthday anniversary. Both broadcasters and broadcast listeners in the west and middle west complained loudly of this limitation of a national patriotic event.
One recourse for the independent broadcaster appears to be available. Through the use of equipment which will pick up broadcasts on one wave length and then retransmit it on another wave length it is expected that broadcasters at no distant day will be independent of the interests that control wires. More will be published on that subject later.
Newspapers all over the country printed the facts about the Coolidge speech incident. We reprint an article from the New York Times. Radio readers may judge for themselves of the justice of the complaints against the American Telephone and Telegraph Company and of the duality of their reply.
Following is the Times article:
"The complaint of Chicago radio listeners that they were barred from hearing President Coolidge's speech on Washington's birthday because the American Telephone and Telegraph Company quoted a $2,500 price, which they called a prohibitive fee, for furnishing that service, was answered yesterday by William E. Harkness in charge of the radio division of the telephone company. He explained that the price quoted to Chicago was fixed on a cost and not a profit basis.
Radio Station Makes Charge
" 'The whole story is this,' said Mr. Harkness. 'Several weeks ago the Chicago Rotary Club announced to all its members that on February 22, if they listened at receiving sets they could hear the speech of the President broadcast all over the world. They then came to us and asked if we could arrange it.
" 'We informed their representative, I believe it was Mr. Treadwell, that it would be a physical impossibility to make the necessary connections to enable President Coolidge's talk to be heard in every part of the world. We did explain, however, that we had already arranged to broadcast the President's speech over practically all the states east of the Mississippi through three broadcasting stations--those at Washington, New York and Providence. " 'Later they came back and said they wanted us to broadcast the President's speech also through Chicago. They asked us to quote them a price. Our figure was $2,500. That was a cost proposition, not a profitmaking rate.
" 'We did not 'demand' an excessive rate from any other city that desired to broadcast the President's talk. We received an inquiry from St. Paul, Minn. desiring to know whether we would make them a low figure for broadcasting President Coolidge's speech. We advised them the cost of linking St. Paul to the broadcasting circuit would be prohibitive. That's all there was to it.'
The Chicago complaint, which appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle, said in part:
" 'Chicago radio listeners were unable to hear President Coolidge's radio eulogy of George Washington last night because the American Telephone and Telegraph Company put a prohibitive charge on the use of a telephone wire between Chicago and Washington.
" 'This charge was made late last night over the air by the announcer of Station WJAZ, the Zenith-Edgewater Beach Hotel Broadcasting Station in Chicago.
" 'The cost of a ten-minute conversation between Washington and Chicago is about $14. As President Coolidge spoke for fourteen minutes, the cost would be a few dollars more. We were quite willing to pay a reasonable fee for this service.' "
"Discussing the cost Mr. Harkness said:
" 'We have to disrupt all our normal conditions and set up an entirely new service to broadcast. That can be done only when the normal service of the company is interrupted. We have to take certain circuits and disrupt them and set new circuits.
" 'Now to establish those circuits, special equipment has to be used. The installation must be done by special men. Special forces must be kept at all the repeating stations. In making the installations we have to wait until the lowest point of traffic of the day, which means after midnight. In turn that means that we have to pay our special men, who are high priced workers, for overtime.
" 'In undertaking to broadcast an important program we set up the circuits the day before. We must then take them out to make way for normal telephone service. When the time comes to broadcast we must put the circuits on again, and after the broadcasting is completed we must disrupt the special circuits.' "