From Our Own Correspondent
Numerous and persistent attempts to " gag " Father Coughlin, the radio priest, and by some means to drive him off the air have taken definite form in a campaign now being waged by the National Association of Broadcasters.
The Association, explaining its action, states that under its own code regulating controversial broadcasts the purchase of radio time by " controversialists " is prohibited.
This interpretation is applied to Fr. Coughlin, "Judge " Rutherford, and the Rev. Walton Cole, a Unitarian minister who has been criticising Fr. Coughlin on mid-western statione. Inasmuch as Fr. Coughlin has the most to lose by any such prohibition, since his broadcasts are nation wide, the prohibition is generally taken to apply specifically to him.
There is, however, consolation for the followers of Fr. Coughlin in the fact that very many of the stations which carried his programmes last year are not members of the National Association of Broadcasters, and hence the prohibition would not be applied by them.
However, the action of the Association is taken by the Catholic Press as an obvious attempt to gag the radio priest. Strenuous objection has been made, even by Catholic papers which have criticised Fr. Coughlin and never print his addresses. These papers, along with those friendly to the Detroit priest, regard the gag attempt as a direct attack on freedom of the air, and are fighting it as such.
OPEN SECRET It has long been an open secret that several large radio stations refused to sell time to Fr. Coughlin because of pressure put on the station owners by those who disagreed with Fr. Cougnlin.
It appears likely now that the gag attempt will have just the opposite result desired; it will win for Fr. Coughlin the support of many Catholics who had no use for what he said or the way be said it.
In accordance with the new ruling, one part of which provides that equal amounts of free time should be allotted to controversialists on both sides of an issue, the Non-Partisan Committee for Peace Through Revision of the Neutrality Law has requested free time from radio stations carrying Fr. Ccughlin's broadcasts. The time is asked t enable the group to put Mgr. John A. Ryan. of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, on the air immediately after Fr. Coughlin, an that Mgr. Ryan may give the opposite side of Fr. Coughlin's arguments against the proposed Neutrality Law revisions.