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Frank StantonFrank Stanton
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Session:         Page of 755

Stanton:

Well, you've got an all-news situation now in cable, with Channel 1 here in New York City. That is not a new concept, either in television or cable. I went to the FCC informally, when I was still active--and that means back, I guess, in the early seventies. No, it was earlier than that, because Newton Minow was chairman, and that would have been in the Democratic period. Might have been the sixties.

I said: “Instead of having a UHF station and a VHF station”--we were allowed to have, I think at that time, five V's and seven U's. The temptation was to put the U's in the same market where we had the V's and build a competitive service. The FCC was eager to get UHF established and was willing to give group owners the right to have seven UHF stations. But the trouble was there weren't any receivers to receive it, and it was a cost, I think, to convert in the marketplace. People just weren't going to drop dead to buy a second receiver to get something that they were getting on their other channels.

So I went to see Minow one morning and said, “What if we decided to take our UHF stations and make them all news, twenty-four hours a day? Would the commission let us do that?” This was probably highly irregular, and Minow, if he lives to hear this, will probably deny that he ever participated. But it was an exploratory conversation between an interested broadcaster and a regulatory commissioner. And instead of having a full-dress hearing and presenting, I simply said: “Is this something that might have some interest for you and your fellow commissioners?”

He came back to me later and said: “No, it won't fly,” and I didn't press it. I don't know what I would have done if he had said: “Yes, go ahead.”



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