The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will debut a nationally syndicated television talk show next month and plans to build a multimillion-dollar broadcasting studio -- complete with satellite transmitters -- to help get its viewpoint on the air.
The chamber's half-hour weekly television program, called "It's Your Business," will go on the air Sept. 9. So far 74 television stations, reaching about 55 percent of the nation's homes, have agreed to carry the show.
Patterned after the major networks Sunday-noon question-and-answer programs, "It's Your Business" will feature a weekly panel discussion moderated by Karna Small, former anchor woman for WTTG-TV, Channel 5's Ten O'Clock News.
In the Washington area the Chamber of Commerce show will be broadcast on Channel 7 (WJLA) at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, following CBS's Face the Nation.
Chamber officials said yesterday the business group has budgeted $1.7 million for the first year's shows, which will be produced by Bob Mead, former television adviser to Gerald Ford when he was president.
In addition, the chamber is building new radio and television production facilities in what is now the courtyard of its national headquarters at 115 H St. N.W.
The Chamber of Commerce's broadcasting complex will be housed in a $2.5 million addition to the building and will be equipped with more than $1 million worth of radio and television gear. The chamber plans to install its own satellite transmission facilities so its broadcasts can be beamed directly to stations around the world.
Chamber President Richard L. Lesher, who will be a regular panelist on the program, said the show is the newest vehicle for spreading the organization's "pro-business, po-free enterprise" message.
When lobbying or litigation -- through a chamber-backed public interest law firm -- doesn't get the word across, Lesher said, the group will "take the case to the polls."
The syndicated panel show will be videotaped and distributed to TV stations under a barter arrangement that is used to distribute many TV game shows.
The chamber will pay for producing the show, will give it to stations free of charge and will get 2 1/2 minutes of commercials on each program. Participating stations will be able to sell another 3 1/2 minutes of commercials.
Chamber officials, who disclosed plans for the program yesterday, said they expect local business advertisers to sponsor the program. Nationally the chamber has signed up Anheuser-Busch, Amway Corp. and Loctite Corp. as sponsors.
The panels will feature Lesher and another business spokesperson and two representatives of what the chamber calls "the other side" debating a current business issue.
Guests for the first program, to be taped next Tuesday, on the causes of inflation will be columnist Pat Buchanan; Jerry Wurf, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Eugene McCarthy, the former Democratic senator.
Most participating stations will carry the program around noon on Sunday, a traditional public-affairs time slot. The chamber effort is aided by a Federal Communications Commission requirement that stations carry a certain amount of public affairs programming.
The weekly syndicated show represents a major expansion of the broadcasting outreach efforts of the Chamber of Commerce.
The weekly syndicated show represents a major expansion of the broadcasting outreach efforts of the Chamber of Commerce. The non-profit business group has for 20 years produced a half-hour radio show called "What's the Issue?" that's carried by about 300 stations. Many cable television systems carry a chamber-produced show called "Enterprise."