B-56445, APRIL 25, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 734

B-56445: Apr 25, 1946

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Shirley Jones
(202) 512-8156
jonessa@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

WHILE DEVOTED PRIMARILY TO THE PRINCIPAL FIELDS OF ENTERTAINMENT AND DESIGNED TO APPEAL TO THOSE WHO ARE PROFESSIONALLY OR FINANCIALLY INTERESTED THEREIN. AS FOLLOWS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO SECTION 106 OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1946. WHICH PROVIDES A LIMITATION OF $50.00 FOR THE PURCHASE OF NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS WHERE NO SPECIFIC LIMITATIONS HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED. THE RADIO SECTION OF THE PUBLICATION IS PARTICULARLY USEFUL TO THE OPERATIONS OF THE COMMISSION BECAUSE IT PRESENTS A WIDE COVERAGE OF VARIOUS ACTIVITIES IN THE BROADCAST FIELD. PROGRAM CONTROL AND AUDIENCE REACTIONS WILL BE PARTICULARLY HELPFUL TO THE COMMISSIONERS FOR WHOM THE SUBSCRIPTIONS WILL BE PLACED.

B-56445, APRIL 25, 1946, 25 COMP. GEN. 734

STATUTORY LIMITATION OF NEWSPAPER AND PERIODICAL PURCHASES - STATUS OF "VARIETY" THE EXCEPTION OF TRADE "PERIODICALS" NECESSARY IN THE PERFORMANCE OF AN AGENCY'S AUTHORIZED FUNCTIONS FROM THE $50 LIMITATION IMPOSED BY SECTION 106 OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1946, ON THE AMOUNT OF THE AGENCY'S FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY SAID ACT WHICH MAY BE EXPENDED FOR NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PUBLICATION " VARIETY" WHICH, WHILE DEVOTED PRIMARILY TO THE PRINCIPAL FIELDS OF ENTERTAINMENT AND DESIGNED TO APPEAL TO THOSE WHO ARE PROFESSIONALLY OR FINANCIALLY INTERESTED THEREIN, CONTAINS NEWS AND INFORMATION OF A GENERAL AND CURRENT NATURE SUCH AS MAY BE FOUND IN THE ORDINARY NEWSPAPER.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE ACTING CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, APRIL 25, 1946:

THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERED YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 11, 1946, AS FOLLOWS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO SECTION 106 OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT OF 1946, PUBLIC LAW 49, 79TH CONGRESS, WHICH PROVIDES A LIMITATION OF $50.00 FOR THE PURCHASE OF NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS WHERE NO SPECIFIC LIMITATIONS HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED.

THE COMMISSION DESIRES TO ENTER SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR " VARIETY," A WEEKLY TRADE JOURNAL COVERING RADIO, SCREEN, MUSIC AND STAGE ACTIVITIES. THE RADIO SECTION OF THE PUBLICATION IS PARTICULARLY USEFUL TO THE OPERATIONS OF THE COMMISSION BECAUSE IT PRESENTS A WIDE COVERAGE OF VARIOUS ACTIVITIES IN THE BROADCAST FIELD. ITS REPORTS AND DISCUSSIONS OF ADVERTISING, PROGRAM PRACTICES, PROGRAM CONTROL AND AUDIENCE REACTIONS WILL BE PARTICULARLY HELPFUL TO THE COMMISSIONERS FOR WHOM THE SUBSCRIPTIONS WILL BE PLACED.

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE, YOUR OPINION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER IT WILL BE PERMISSIBLE FOR THE COMMISSION TO PURCHASE COPIES OF " VARIETY," UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 106; "THAT THIS LIMITATION SHALL NOT APPLY TO THE PURCHASE OF SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL, TRADE OR TRAFFIC PERIODICALS NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THE AUTHORIZED FUNCTIONS OF THE AGENCIES FOR WHICH FUNDS ARE HEREIN PROVIDED.'

FOR YOUR INFORMATION, THERE IS TRANSMITTED HEREWITH A COPY OF THE CURRENT ISSUE OF FEBRUARY 27, 1946. YOUR ATTENTION IS DIRECTED TO THE RADIO SECTION OF THIS ISSUE WHICH COVERS 14 PAGES OF EDITORIAL MATTER.

AN EXPRESSION OF YOUR OPINION AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.

THE REFERRED-TO SECTION 106 OF THE INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACT, 1946, APPROVED MAY 3, 1945, 59 STAT. 130, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

WHERE APPROPRIATIONS IN THIS ACT ARE EXPENDABLE FOR THE PURCHASE OF NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS AND NO SPECIFIC LIMITATION HAS BEEN PLACED THEREON, THE EXPENDITURES THEREFOR UNDER EACH SUCH APPROPRIATION MAY NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT OF $50. PROVIDED, THAT THIS LIMITATION SHALL NOT APPLY TO THE PURCHASE OF SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL, TRADE, OR TRAFFIC PERIODICALS NECESSARY IN CONNECTION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THE AUTHORIZED FUNCTIONS OF THE AGENCIES FOR WHICH THE FUNDS ARE HEREIN PROVIDED.

AS THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION CONTAINED IN THE SAID ACT OF MAY 3, 1945, PROVIDES SPECIFICALLY FOR NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS BUT CONTAINS NO LIMITATION UPON THE AMOUNT WHICH MAY BE EXPENDED THEREFOR, IT IS SUBJECT TO THE RESTRICTIONS IN SECTION 106, SUPRA.

STATUTORY PROVISIONS, SUBSTANTIALLY IDENTICAL TO THE TERMS OF SAID SECTION 106, WHICH HAVE BEEN CARRIED IN PRIOR INDEPENDENT OFFICES APPROPRIATION ACTS, HERETOFORE HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED IN SEVERAL DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE. SEE, INTER ALIA, DECISION OF APRIL 12, 1943, B-33450, TO THE CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION; 22 COMP. GEN. 338; ID. 146. IN THE DECISION IN 22 COMP. GEN. 338, IT WAS HELD THAT CERTAIN LEGAL PUBLICATIONS THERE CONSIDERED WERE NEWSPAPERS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE $50 LIMITATION INVOLVED, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THEY MAINLY WERE DEVOTED TO THE PUBLICATION OF LEGAL NOTICES, TRANSACTIONS AND RELATED NEWS ITEMS OF SPECIAL INTEREST TO THE LEGAL PROFESSION. AND, IN THE EARLIER DECISION, 22 COMP. GEN. 146, IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT THE WORDS "NEWSPAPERS" AND "PERIODICALS" IN THE LEGISLATION APPARENTLY WERE USED IN THEIR COMMONLY ACCEPTED MEANING AND IT WAS HELD--- IN THE LIGHT OF THE PLAIN TERMS OF THE SECTION AND ITS LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--- THAT THE EXPRESS EXCEPTION OF "SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL, TRADE, OR TRAFFIC PERIODICALS" FROM THE $50 LIMITATION ON THE PURCHASE OF "NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS" DID NOT EXTEND TO PUBLICATIONS COMMONLY REGARDED AS NEWSPAPERS EVEN THOUGH ADMINISTRATIVELY CONSIDERED NECESSARY FOR THE SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL, TRADE, OR TRAFFIC INFORMATION TO BE GLEANED THEREFROM. HENCE, THE PURCHASE OF THE PUBLICATION "VARIETY" MAY BE MADE WITHOUT REGARD TO SAID LIMITATION ONLY IN THE EVENT THAT IT IS NOT PROPERLY CATEGORIZED AS A NEWSPAPER.

IN THE PAST IT HAS BEEN NECESSARY FROM TIME TO TIME FOR THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE WORDS "PERIODICALS" AND "NEWSPAPERS" BECAUSE THE PROVISIONS OF CERTAIN OTHER STATUTES USING EITHER OR BOTH OF THE TERMS SO REQUIRED. 4 COMP. DEC. 694. 16 ID. 25; 22 ID. 319; 3 COMP. GEN. 977; 4 ID. 384. THE BASIS FOR THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE TWO CLASSES OF PUBLICATIONS ARTICULATED BY THOSE DECISIONS HAS BEEN MAINLY AS TO THEIR CONTENTS; THAT IS TO SAY, WHERE THE PUBLICATION DEALT MAINLY WITH A TECHNICAL OR SPECIALIZED SUBJECT WITHOUT REFERENCE TO GENERAL NEWS OR CURRENT EVENTS, IT WAS HELD TO BE A PERIODICAL, WHEREAS IN THOSE INSTANCES WHERE THE PUBLICATION WAS ONE WHICH SPECIALIZED IN ONE OR MORE SUBJECTS, IF IT WAS DEVOTED TO GENERAL NEWS OR CURRENT EVENTS IT WAS REGARDED AS A NEWSPAPER. TO THE SAME EFFECT ARE THE DECISIONS OF THE COURTS WHEREIN THEY HAVE BEEN REQUIRED TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS. IN THE CASE OF HANSCOM V. MEYER, 82 N.W. 114, IT WAS STATED THAT:

IT IS DIFFICULT, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, TO DETERMINE WITH CLEARNESS AND EXACTNESS WHERE THE LINES OF DEMARCATION SHOULD BE DRAWN BETWEEN A NEWSPAPER, IN A LEGAL AND COMMON ACCEPTATION OF THE TERM, AND THE NUMEROUS PUBLICATIONS DEVOTED TO SOME SPECIAL PURPOSE, AND WHICH CIRCULATE ONLY AMONG A CERTAIN CLASS OF THE PEOPLE, AND WHICH ARE NOT WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF STATUTES REQUIRING PUBLICATION OF LEGAL NOTICES IN SOME NEWSPAPER. THE DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSPAPERS COMMON TO ALL PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, OF GENERAL CIRCULATION AMONG THE PEOPLE, WITHOUT REGARD TO CLASS, VOCATION, OR CALLING, DEVOTED TO THE GATHERING AND DISSEMINATION OF NEWS OF CURRENT EVENTS OF INTEREST TO ALL, AND USUALLY ESPOUSING AND ADVOCATING PRINCIPLES OF SOME POLITICAL PARTY WITH PERSISTENCY, IF NOT AT ALL TIMES WITH CONSISTENCY, ARE, WITHOUT DOUBT, NEWSPAPERS, WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE. ON THE CONTRARY, MANY PUBLICATIONS, SUCH AS LITERARY, SCIENTIFIC, RELIGIOUS, MEDICAL, AND LEGAL JOURNALS, THAT ARE OBVIOUSLY FOR BUT ONE CLASS OF THE PEOPLE, AND THAT CLASS ALWAYS BUT SMALL PART OF THE ENTIRE PUBLIC, ARE NOT NEWSPAPERS, WITHIN THE LEGAL AND ORDINARY MEANING OF THE WORD; AND IT WOULD BE MANIFESTLY UNJUST, AS WELL AS AGAINST THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF THE LAW, TO RECOGNIZE SUCH PUBLICATIONS AS PROPER FOR THE ADVERTISEMENT OF LEGAL NOTICES,--- THE OBJECT IN ALL CASES BEING TO GIVE WIDE AND GENERAL PUBLICITY REGARDING THE SUBJECT OF WHICH NOTICE IS REQUIRED TO BE PUBLISHED. THE PAPER IN QUESTION PARTAKES, IN A DEGREE, OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF EACH OF THE TWO CLASSES MENTIONED. IF, HOWEVER, IT HAS THE DISTINGUISHING FEATURES REQUIRED TO MAKE IT A NEWSPAPER, AS ORDINARILY DEFINED, THE FACT THAT IT ALSO MAKES A SPECIALTY OF SOME PARTICULAR CLASS OF BUSINESS, AND CONVEYS INTELLIGENCE OF PARTICULAR INTEREST TO THOSE ENGAGED IN SUCH BUSINESS, WILL NOT DEPRIVE IT OF ITS GENERAL CLASSIFICATIONS AS A NEWSPAPER, WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE. * * * (ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

AND IN THE CASE OF IN RE LABOR JOURNAL, 213 P. 498, THE COURT STATED:

IT IS NOT EASY TO DETERMINE WITH PRECISION WHERE THE LINE OF DEMARCATION SHOULD BE DRAWN BETWEEN A NEWSPAPER IN THE LEGAL AND ORDINARY ACCEPTATION OF THE TERM AND THE NUMEROUS PERIODICALS DEVOTED TO SOME SPECIAL PURPOSE, CIRCULATING AMONG A PARTICULAR CLASS, AND WHICH ARE FOR THAT REASON DISQUALIFIED FROM ACCEPTING ADVERTISEMENTS REQUIRED BY SOME STATUTORY PROVISION TO BE PUBLISHED IN A NEWSPAPER OF GENERAL CIRCULATION. MANY PUBLICATIONS, SUCH AS LITERARY, SCIENTIFIC, RELIGIOUS, MEDICAL, OR LEGAL, WHICH ARE OBVIOUSLY AIMED TO REACH A PARTICULAR AND LIMITED CLASS OF PEOPLE, ARE NOT NEWSPAPERS WITHIN EITHER THE LEGAL OR ORDINARY MEANING OF THE WORD. BUT THE FACT THAT A NEWSPAPER IS DEVOTED TO THE INTEREST OF A PARTICULAR CLASS OF PERSONS, AS FOR INSTANCE, THOSE ENGAGED IN THE SAME BUSINESS OR CALLING, AND SPECIALIZES ON NEWS AND INTELLIGENCE PRIMARILY OF INTEREST TO THAT CLASS, WILL NOT EXCLUDE IT FROM CLASSIFICATION AS A NEWSPAPER OF GENERAL CIRCULATION, IF, IN ADDITION TO SUCH SPECIAL NEWS, IT ALSO PUBLISHES NEWS OF A GENERAL CHARACTER. * * * (ITALICS SUPPLIED.) SEE, ALSO, IN RE STERLING CLEANERS AND DYERS, 81 F.2D 596, AND THE ANNOTATION APPEARING IN 68 A.L.R. 538.

IT APPEARS FROM THE FOREGOING THAT, WHILE THE COURTS HAVE RECOGNIZED THE DIFFICULTY OF LAYING DOWN A RULE OF DISTINCTION BETWEEN NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS FOR APPLICATION IN ALL CASES, YET THERE IS UNANIMITY IN THE OPINION THAT WHERE THE PUBLICATION CONTAINS GENERAL AND CURRENT NEWS THE CIRCUMSTANCE THAT SUCH NEWS IS RESTRICTED TO A PARTICULAR SUBJECT MATTER OR IS OF THE NATURE THAT PERHAPS IS OF INTEREST ONLY TO A PORTION OF THE PUBLIC IN GENERAL DOES NOT SERVE TO REMOVE THE PUBLICATION FROM CLASSIFICATION AS A NEWSPAPER. SO FAR AS CONCERNS " VARIETY," THE PUBLICATION HERE INVOLVED, IT APPEARS TO BE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO NEWS AND INFORMATION CONCERNING THE PRINCIPAL FIELDS OF PRESENT-DAY ENTERTAINMENT--- MOTION PICTURES, MUSIC, THE STAGE, AND RADIO--- AND CONTAINS ADVERTISING, CRITICAL REVIEWS, BUSINESS REPORTS, ETC., RELATING THERETO WHICH, WHILE DESIGNED TO ESPECIALLY APPEAL TO, OR SERVE THE INTEREST OF, THOSE WHO ARE PROFESSIONALLY ENGAGED OR FINANCIALLY INTERESTED IN THOSE ACTIVITIES, NONETHELESS ARE, TO A CONSIDERABLE EXTENT, NEWS AND INFORMATION OF A GENERAL AND CURRENT NATURE SUCH AS MAY BE FOUND IN ANY NEWSPAPER. THEREFORE, AND APPLYING THE RATIONALE OF THE DECISIONS OF THE COURTS AND THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS ABOVE REFERRED TO, I AM CONSTRAINED TO HOLD THAT THE INSTANT PUBLICATION IS A NEWSPAPER WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LIMITATION CONTAINED IN SECTION 106, SUPRA, AND, SUCH BEING THE CASE, THAT IT MAY NOT BE PURCHASED WITHOUT REGARD THERETO.

Feb 26, 2021

Feb 25, 2021

Feb 24, 2021

Looking for more? Browse all our products here