Dennis & Callahan criticized for "election postponed" joke

A. Joseph Ross
Thu Nov 6 22:49:08 EST 2008

On 6 Nov 2008 at 14:12, wrote:

> Wasn't there some suggestion that the Herald had written an
> unflattering article about Ted Kennedy and that he spearheaded the
> revocation?
The proceedings long preceded even Ted Kennedy's election to the 
Senate, if I'm not mistaken.  The Herald Traveler applied for a TV 
license approximately at the same time as WBZ and WNAC.  Actually, 
probably a little later because the channel 5 assignment was 
originally to Worcester.  I'm going from memory, but I believe the 
WHDH application got caught up in the four-year freeze on television 
licenses that ended around 1952.  It may also be that the Democratic-
controlled FCC in the late 1940s didn't want to give the license to 
the Republican-oriented Herald Traveler.  In any event, the Globe 
generally objected to its competitor having an AM and FM radio 
station and a TV station, when it had no broadcast properties in the 
city.  The Globe was, then as now, a liberal-oriented newspaper.

The ostensible reason for the licence being set aside was "ex parte 
contancts" between the Herald Traveler and the FCC while the license 
was pending.  Apparently the publisher of the Herald Traveler had 
lunch or dinner with the chairman of the FCC.  They say the license 
application wasn't discussed, but apparently more general issues such 
as newspapers owning broadcast properties was, if I'm remembering 
this correctly.

It's unclear how much impact political ties had in any of this, but I 
was the one who observed, some years ago, either in this forum or 
during an appearance on LTAR that the award of channel 5 to the 
Herald Traveler was under a Republican administration (Eisenhower) 
and its revocation and the new comparative licencing hearing were 
under Democratic administrations (Kennedy and Johnson).  After that 
it was in the courts, which were somewhat constrained legally in 
their ability to overturn an administrative agency.  In fact, I have 
since realized that the final award of channel 5 to Boston 
Broadcasters probably took place in 1969, early in the Nixon 
Administration, but at a time that the hearings had all been held, 
the groundwork had been laid, and party changes in the FCC may not 
have taken place yet.

Again, this was pure speculation on my part, but it certainly seems 
plausible to me.

A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                           617.367.0468
 92 State Street, Suite 700                   Fax 617.507.7856
Boston, MA 02109-2004           

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