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                Federal Communications Commission
                     Washington, D.C. 20554

                                               In reply refer to:
                                              EB-00-IH-0297 -KMS 

                          March 9, 2001

                                          Released: March 9, 2001

The Honorable Ron Wyden
United States Senate
516 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510-3703

The Honorable John B. Breaux
United States Senate
503 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510-1803

Dear Senators Wyden and Breaux:

This responds to your letter of September 12, 2000, in which you 
requested that the Commission conduct an investigation regarding 
the airing of a Republican National Committee advertisement 
allegedly containing a subliminal message. 

In your letter, you stated that you are troubled by the 
allegations that stations aired an advertisement which contained 
a subliminal messagežspecifically, that the advertisement 
``displayed the word `RATS' as it attacks Vice President Gore's 
prescription drug proposal''--and that you believed ``that it is 
in the best interests of both political parties, and all 
Americans, that the Federal Communications Commission conduct an 
immediate and impartial review of this matter.''  In support of 
your request, you cited to a 1974 public notice in which the 
Commission stated its belief that broadcasts using subliminal 
messages are contrary to the public interest.  In 1974, the 
Commission issued a public notice stating its belief that the `` 
use of subliminal perception is inconsistent with the obligations 
of a licensee'' and made it ``clear that broadcasts employing 
such techniques are contrary to the public interest.''  
Furthermore, the Commission stated that ``[w]hether effective or 
not, such broadcasts clearly are intended to be deceptive.''1

In response to your letter, the Enforcement Bureau sent inquiry 
letters to the licensees of 217 stations specifically alleged by 
you to have aired this ad.  In the inquiry letter, the 
Enforcement Bureau asked the licensees of the named stations 
whether they aired the advertisement.  If they aired the 
advertisement, the letter then asked the licensees to answer the 
following:  what dates did they broadcast the advertisement; how 
many times did it air; and whether the licensees or any of their 
officers, directors or employees knew it contained the word 
``RATS'' prior to any of the times they broadcast the 
advertisement.  Lastly, we asked the licensees that broadcast the 
advertisement even though they knew it contained the word 
``RATS'' to explain the facts and circumstances surrounding their 
decision to do so.  We received a response from all of the 
licensees to which we sent inquiry letters.

Of the 179 stations that responded that they had aired the 
advertisement, 162 indicated that, when they aired the 
advertisement, they were not aware that the advertisement 
contained the word ``RATS.''  Of those that aired the 
advertisement knowing the word ``RATS'' appeared in it, several 
stations stated that they did so because they were able to see 
the word and, therefore, they believed that it was not 
subliminal.  Some of these stations and other stations stated 
that they did so because they believed that they were prohibited 
from censoring the advertisement by Section 315 of the 
Communications Act because the advertisement contained a use--a 
positive, identifiable appearance by a candidate.

Based on our review of  the responses submitted by the  stations, 

we conclude that no further action is warranted.

                              FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

                              David H. Solomon
                              Chief, Enforcement Bureau

cc:  Stations

  1  Public Notice  Concerning the  Broadcast of  Information  By 
Means of ``Subliminal  Perception'' Techniques, 44  FCC 2d  1016, 
1017 (1974).