THE DAVIS AMENDMENT

OVERVIEW OF THE CONTROVERSY

Interference plagued radio's developed all through the mid-1920s. The various bills pending in Congress before the passage of the Radio Act of 1927 contained language designed to reduce interference for the listener, particularly the listener who was located more than about 20 miles from the transmitter.

The Air Law Committee of the American Bar Association made an analysis of the provisions of the proposed legislation prior to the passage of the 1927 Act. In 1926, the Committee wrote:

..."neither the Dill bill nor the White bill deals adequately with the difficult problem of reducing interference, therby securing better reception of the better programs, and that both bills should therefore be amended 'so as to provide for closing up the superfluous stations..." (ABA Journal 12(12)(1926)).

The first requirement for equalization of service among the various geographical regions of the U.S. was included in section 9 of the Radio Act of 1927:

In considering applications for licenses and renewal of licenses, when and in so far as there is a demand for the same, the licensing authority shall make such a distribution of licenses, bands of frequencies or wave lengths, periods of time for operation, and of power among the different States and communities as to give fair, efficient and equitable radio service to each of the same (44 Stat. 1166 (1927))."

Though the FRC worked to reduce interference during that first year, reception remained difficult for many people, particularly in the South and West. As a result Congress decided to specifiy the meaning of their intent with the Davis Amendment.

The Davis Amendment, passed on March 28th, 1928, as part of the continuing authorization of the Federal Radio Commission called upon the Commission to establish equality of radio service to all of the regions of the United States. The Amendment was unpopular with members of the FRC and with engineers who felt that strict adherence to numerical parity created other more significant problems in the attempt to eliminate heterdyne interference.


THE DAVIS AMENDMENT - From the Dictionary of American Radio



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© by Fritz Messere 1996.