NET Special: Public Television Hearings; 2
BELLS The following program is from NET, the public television network. I think little by little, I see a tremendous change both in commercial and even in public television of more of what's good about the nature of man and what you can do to encourage him
to lift up his eyes a little bit towards the heaven, whether instead of keep looking down would always to the more sorted things of life. And I think it's the most dynamic and impressive phenomenon of this century, this idea that you can see and hear at the same time, and we're not at the end of the road, we're not at the end of the road. It's a whole new vista ahead of us. NET Special Projects presents Senate hearings, the future of public broadcasting. In our Washington studio, correspondent Dick McCutchen. That was a vision of the future of broadcasting by Democratic Senator John Pastore of Rhode Island, as you'll see in the next hour his optimism is not universally shared. This morning Pastore opened the second end as it developed the last day of hearings by his subcommittee on communications on the immediate future of non-commercial or public broadcasting.
The question is approval of a Senate bill which would extend for five years a program for federal matching grants for public broadcasting facilities and appropriate $20 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a non-profit organization formed to stimulate the growth of public broadcasting. The question of who will pay for a permanent, significant system of public broadcasting has been unanswered since it began. In authorizing the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with an attendant appropriation of $5 million, the federal government made its first tentative move toward financing the programming efforts of public broadcasting. For fiscal year 1970, the Johnson administration recommended an appropriation of $20 million, the Nixon administration yesterday recommended that this be cut to $10 million. The message of witness after witness yesterday was that public broadcasting
cannot at this stage in its evolution survive that cut, that it would place in serious question the credibility of federal commitment to public broadcasting. Today's first witness was Governor Marvin Mandel of Maryland, successor to Vice President Spiro Agnew, in outlining his state's construction of a public broadcasting system to start operation this fall, Mandel underscored this need for faith in federal aid if other types of assistance are to be expected. These states cannot do it alone. For Maryland and for many other states beginning similar projects and dependent on continued federal support, a withdrawal of the federal commitment would, in my opinion, be detrimental to the total concept of public television. And I might add that I think that we are prepared to build six additional transmitting facilities, we would be in serious jeopardy to build those facilities if federal support is withdrawn.
I don't think that we could go ahead with that entire project. Certainly the future of the entire program will be seriously endangered during its most critical period if the provisions of the Public Broadcasting Act are not extended by this Congress. As we know, generous citizens and corporations have often been the major contributors to the growth of public television facilities. Since 1962, the federal government has taken an increasing important role. But a look at the history of the growth of public television reveals that the major problem facing the industry has been not a financing. Traditional forms of financial support have, except in certain isolated instances, been unequal to the task of funding public broadcasting. If this public broadcasting is to be a reality, not only for Maryland, but for all the states, it is imperative that Senate Bill 1242 receive the affirmative approval of this committee and final passage by the Congress.
Mr. Chairman, on behalf of all the citizens of Maryland, I urge you to act favorably on the pending bill. Other types of aid to public broadcasting in the past have been foundation grants, which comprise the largest single source of support, state and municipal aid and public contributions. Although suspicion remains strong in many quarters, that commercial broadcasting has no interest in a viable public broadcasting system, commercial broadcasting has given aid, if not comfort, in the form of equipment, consultation and in a few cases money. The Columbia Broadcasting System, for example, donated $1 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting before that group could find office space. And today's second witness, Dr. Frank Stanton, was the president, is the president of CBS. Dr. Stanton, you have a tremendous background and experience in the field of high finance and economic questions on a large scale. Have you any suggestions to offer to this committee how we can get better and more public or private participation with reference to this meeting?
As you have heard and as you already know, their problem is money. Whether the federal government puts it up, whether the foundations put it up, or whether private interest like yours put it up. I'm wondering if there is in some way that we can stimulate this private giving, because after all, there is a tremendous public interest in this and a great public benefit in it. I was wondering if you've ever thought about this. I've thought a lot about it because in my own community, I have tried to help the local channel from time to time in its campaigns. I think I said on one other occasion before you that I was terribly disappointed in the lack of public support in the way of contributions that educational television has received. This has been spotty. There are some communities where the stations have been more successful than in others.
It seems to me it requires a combination of forces in the private sector. It requires a participation on the part of community leaders. But how to motivate them, I'm at a loss to suggest. I suppose that at some point down the line, if the educational station did not survive, there would be a large human cry from the public to get it back. But sometimes we have to go through the loss of a service before we realize how important that service is. How to get that across to the people. I'm not wise enough or expert enough at this time to give you an answer that will raise the kind of money that's required. I do think that there is a slightly, perhaps I shouldn't even say slightly, but I do think that there is an increasing interest on the part of the public in the support of public television. It's taken longer than we hoped. But I think it will be on an ascending curve.
I guess we are all impatient when we have such a wonderful instrument at our disposal to put it to its fullest use as promptly as possible. I don't see anything short of government support at this time to get it fully operational. Addressing his testimony to one of the two senators conducting today's hearings, Republican Senator Norris Cotton of New Hampshire, Stanton elaborated on one of the problems of public broadcasting, the lack of money to adequately promote its programs. Now this brought cotton around to the kind of retraction that's all too rare in Washington. Yesterday morning cotton opened the proceedings with what could hardly be termed a testimonial to public broadcasting. Today he articulated some second thoughts. I was a little critical yesterday and more so that I should have been about my feeling that, well I said in the committee here yesterday,
that I had been disappointed that it seems that every time that I turned on the educational television station, why I was listening to a dissertation on antiques and how to detect which ones are really genuine, which aren't or farming in India or something that might interest a certain group, but didn't seem to me to attract listening public. I know the job we have filling 18 hours a day, if you will, and I know the job that must face the managers of a local independent educational station when he has to fill 10-12 hours a day. This is a tremendous job and sometimes you reach for anything to get it on the air simply because you've got to keep something moving on the end of the tube to hold the audience or to try to hold the audience.
But these are the growing up stages on educational television. Once you get the kind of service that's contemplated by the Carnegie Commission report on the Public Broadcasting Act, you will have materials that won't be dull and you will have materials that will hold the interest and I think satisfy the situation that you're describing. And none of us should be unduly critical if that has to be resorted to some by public television when if I understand your statement correctly and I say this facetiously, even CBS sometimes reaches for something that isn't the best to fill up time. When you look at the record of books, when you look at the record of Broadway, you can plead the fifth. I said that was facetious.
Yeah, I accepted on that basis because I almost said it a little while ago myself. We don't have a corner on all the creativity and it's awfully difficult to come up with something new and bright and entertaining hour after hour. And I just wanted state that I would like to have unsaid the words that I said yesterday. I think they were unjustified and I'm convinced of that and I wish perhaps that I'm the only United States senator that sometimes speaks without thought. Just one other seriously, even with all the pressure that we're under in the chairman of this subcommittee and I both serve on appropriations and we know that many, many directions, most essential directions that we're pressed for money and how difficult it is to hold down the budget. Even so, with the progress of public television and the rather critical time that is passing through now, you would say that
would you be of the opinion that we should try to put back the 20 million in place of the 10 million that has been recommended recently? I would certainly recommend that you go to the 20 million dollar figure. The National Association of Educational Broadcasters is the Professional Association of Public Broadcasting, its membership consists of institutions and individuals. Following Dr. Stanton to the stand was William Harley, the Association President. And in outlining some of the needs of public broadcasting, Harley pointed out as just a few examples that 47% of all public broadcasting stations have less potential coverage than their commercial counterparts. That 51% of all public broadcasting stations have no color facilities that 89% cannot originate live color programming.
But he also supplied some vivid reminders that public broadcasting is not all television. That there is a place there is a need for non-commercial radio, which goes about its task effectively but largely unheralded. What are some of these things which, based on the record of performance so far, illustrate what could be done even more effectively with proper support? Or to put it another way, Mr. Chairman, what are some of the things we could do which we will not be able to do if we do not get adequate funding for programs and facilities needed for their distribution? Many of the problems of our society are due to the inability of large numbers of our people, particularly the urban and rural poor, to share in the broad cultural and educational spectrum of American life. Educational broadcasters can reach out to the people and furnish the means for affecting communication with them, among them and by them in a way no one else can.
Educational broadcasting can improve communications between ghetto inhabitants in the white power structure, extend community services in such areas as health, welfare, public order, and recreation, and improve education, job training, and job information. Educational broadcasting can give a voice to minority groups. For example, the WBUR radio program in Boston with a 90-minute nightly program using three black disc jockeys to give residents a Roxbury, a real voice. KLNRM TV in Santa Antonio providing remote pickups for Spanish Americans, done in the Barrios by Barrios citizens explaining their hopes and ideas and their demands. The Wisconsin State Radio Network saturated week of programs on the plight of Milwaukee's inner city poor, allowing them to reflect their condition in such a compelling way that it helps pass the first housing ordinance for that city. Educational broadcasting can provide programs to improve social conditions in the ghetto. For example, in Denver, our kind of world is a series of soap operas about the poor and for the poor utilizing a Negro family and a Spanish American family providing information on health, welfare, housing, and basic social concepts.
Educational broadcasting is also effective in helping job seekers to find employment. Here in Washington, the station WBTA is an example of the effective use of TV as a link to that black community in helping the unemployed and the under employed job information, information about training and education opportunities are supplied and job seekers are given the opportunity to advertise their skills. Another important general service is in helping to involve all of our citizens in the democratic process. Bringing into the home meetings not generally televised when major public decisions are hammered out when people express their hopes and protests and enthusiasm and meetings of school boards or broadcast of PTA groups of county boards and the like KUHT broadcast regular the Houston school board, one of the most popular programs viewed in that area. More involvement comes through such things as broadcasts of state and congressional committee hearings. And we know of the broadcasts of the various Senate congressional hearings, the EN broadcast of the urban crisis and the NET pickup of the violence hearings and so on.
There are also broadcasts of state legislatures, as done for example by the Nebraska ETV network programs which provide opportunity for legislators to report to the citizens, South Carolina ETV network is doing that currently. Many of the educational radio and television stations afford free time to candidates for state and federal political office and the Wisconsin radio network is a pioneer example of that kind of service. All the stations devote considerable time to public affairs programs, debates, panels, and forums on public issues. Another service is assisting governmental agencies by broadcasting programs and series which advance the activities of federal, state, and local agencies programs, for example, in basic hygiene, literacy training, vocational school skills, whole making and the like. And finally, educational broadcasting must continue to improve and expand its service to schools.
The schools are falling further and further behind in the task of providing education. Additional appropriations for pupil to the traditional school cannot alone raise educational productivity. Educational television and radio provide unique methods for organizing for innovation and change in the schools, properly integrated into the system. They can help to improve the quality of instruction, enrich the curriculum and extend the benefits of such schooling to millions of children who will otherwise be deprived of opportunities that should be open to them. At present, the existing educational TV stations are devoting nearly half of their schedules to programs for schools and some 7 million children are benefiting from these services during the school year. Educational radio is also being used to some extent for the school instruction and in Wisconsin, which is the only place where we have a statewide radio network. Over a thousand schools are taking the radio lessons, but these stations need facilities dollars to continue school services and areas where they are in use and to build new broadcast facilities or increase the coverage of existing transmitters in order to reach areas where no such service is available.
In some ways, providing a means for making compensatory education available for the preschool, culturally deprived child, may be the most important contribution educational broadcasting can make to the nation's welfare. I associate myself with all of the testimony that was made yesterday about the tremendous importance of serving the preschool audience through broadcasting. In summary, educational radio and television are capable both of making possible new and innovative approaches, as well as strengthening and extending existing local state and federal programs designed to alter the whole range of conditions which so urgently need national attention. Thus, educational radio and television should not be seen as competing with other important needs and demands, but rather as a means by which other social educational and cultural efforts can be carried forward. They provide a means through which the resources of the community of the nation can be brought to bear on these problems in such a way as to produce a high yield of effective outcome from the investment of effort and funds.
In 1962, Congress enacted the Educational Television Facilities Act. This supplied $32 million in matching grants for public broadcasting facilities. In other words, if a station could raise money from other sources for expansion of its facilities, the federal government would provide additional funds. That federal money ran out in 1967, even though it helped create 92 new public broadcasting television stations. Since its expiration, there have been only 15 applications for new stations, and local money has been sitting unused, awaiting equivalent federal grants. One of the issues of these hearings has been to extend this Facilities Act, and the next witness to press for its extension was Hartford Gunn, General Manager of Station WGBH in Boston, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Educational Television Station's Division of the NAEB. Gunn emphasized that public broadcasting is not idly awaiting federal support.
I believe the most significant statistic of all is that for every single federal dollar that has been spent on ETV facilities, the states and the communities have spent more than $2 of their own. Through their own efforts, public and private agencies, and cities and states from Maine to Hawaii, had raised more than $75 million by the end of fiscal 67 to build and equip the stations, and they have raised more than $200 million in that period to operate those stations. They've made that commitment willingly and enthusiastically because they have seen how educational television can serve their communities. The federal assistance, then, has had a multiplier effect. It has generated state and local commitment and service to the public far out of proportion to the amount of federal support. Mr. Harley has already outlined for you some of the specific needs for which continuation of that program is so urgently required. I can only emphasize his central point that a balanced program, a facilities and program funds is essential. One without the other is meaningless. Our cities and states are aware of the need and they've made their commitment.
They've pledged in excess of $15 million in local funds for new facilities projects. They're ready to proceed, and in some cases they've been ready for over two years, but they're unable to go forward without the federal assistance. Facilities alone, however, are not the answer. For we serve, after all, through our programming. And my prepared statement discusses at greater length the kind of programming that we have managed to do despite our limited resources. Well, I hope to do it because the Channel 2 does come into Providence. Thank you. I'm quite a habitual user of the medium, and I think you do a magnificent job. No question in my mind. You're doing a magnificent job. I enjoy it very, very much. And I think your programming is excellent, the kind of people that you bring to discuss some of the issues of the day, all of high caliber.
Let me ask you this question. How much of a viewing audience do you have on Channel 2? About a quarter to a third of the population watch on a regular basis every week. And over a period of a month we reach about two thirds of the total population. Well, now can you state that in a figure? Yes, I brought some figures with me specifically of our audience, if I can put my finger on them. The 484,000 different households tune in at least once a week for WGBH programming. The indications are that this audience is using the programs at an increasingly greater rate. That is, they are tuning in not only to one program, but to a number of programs. The indications are from programs such as Mr. Rogers and you'll meet in a few moments that this is on a steady increase. One of the strengths of public broadcasting, when it has the money to use it, is its flexibility.
It's freedom from fixed commercial schedules. It's ability to provide extended community service during times of crisis. The student strike at Harvard University presented Boston with just that kind of crisis and resulted in just that kind of community service from WGBH. On three successive nights, two weeks ago, during the crisis at Harvard University, we devoted a total of more than seven hours of prime evening time to special programming that we hope would help our viewers as well as student and faculty members to understand what surely one of the most pressing and urgent problems of our times, student unrest and concern. Our first program, 8-9-30, was 90 minutes in length, the next evening, it ran from 7-30 to well past midnight. The third program was a 45 minute wrap-up of the events of the day on which the strike was suspended. In the course of this coverage, every shade of opinion at Harvard was represented on the air and outside of Harvard. Students, faculty, administrators, even the citizens of Cambridge discussed the issues with each other and with the public at length.
And I submit that public television, if adequately financed, is almost always in a better position than commercial television to play this vital role in our communities, that is, if adequately financed. The last time representatives of public television appeared before your committee was two years ago. We argued then that a federally supported system was essential and your committee responded with generous and effective action. But in the intervening months, the need for positive programming of the sort public television can and should supply is increased again and again. Everywhere one looks, the need for more effective communication among people and between groups grows more pressing. The problems of the cities are worsening, the threat of violence is ever-present, racial difficulties are not eased fast enough. Understanding among various segments of our society was never more important, nor more difficult to achieve. The whites don't understand the blacks, rich don't understand poor, citizens don't understand politicians and young don't understand old.
In each case, the opposite also seems to be true. None of us can predict the certainty, the crises that Americans will face in the next two years. But I think I can say with assurance that communications between people will grow harder, not easier. That failure to find better ways of communicating will become ever more dangerous for the society as a whole. Somehow this trend, somehow this trend must be reversed. Somehow people in our country must find ways to build common agreement rather than to exaggerate their differences. Mr. Chairman, I can make no claim that public television can cure all the yields of the country. But I think we can demonstrate the possibility of public television to help bridge the increasing communications gap among all of us. As a country, we seem to have stopped talking to one another. Maybe we don't know how anymore, because the problems are too great, or the differences are too wide.
But it may also be in part that we have no effective means of communicating. Yes, we have television news, and that does provide a degree of communication. But the standard headline type of news at its best is not terribly informative, and at its worst is very, may very well be destructive. It can be out of context, a condensation, an abstraction. It's not what individuals are thinking, may not be what they're saying, may not even be what they're doing. It's not that standard news is untruthful, but rather it's incomplete. It's a communication begun, but not ended. The result of such news programming may well be to aggravate greatly and already serious communications problem in this country. So I would like to respond, Mr. Chairman, to your question that you put to Mr. Macy yesterday regarding the $20 million for the corporation for public broadcasting by asking another question. Is $20 million too much to spend to see if public television can help close this communications gap?
Would even $40 or $80 million be too much if it were even partially successful? I think not. I've seen just enough evidence of what this medium can do at critical moments in a community to believe we haven't begun to tap its potential in a role of helping each understand the other. If public television can also teach in the classroom, supply programs for professional skill advancement, support and also project the best of our culture and heritage, inform and entertain, and also provide meaningful programming for children. Then I think on top of all of this, you've got a bargain. 14 years ago, a television program for children made its unauspicious debut on station WQED in Pittsburgh. Its budget was $30. Its host, Fred Rogers, an ordained minister with an abiding interest in children, and an equally abiding belief that they deserve more from television. Today, the budget is still modest by any television standard, but that same program Mr. Rogers' neighborhood has won the valued Peabody Award and has seen over many stations affiliated with national educational television.
The appeal and impact of Fred Rogers is undeniable. You'll see evidence of that in a moment. But Mr. Rogers' neighborhood is the dilemma of public broadcasting in a capsule. The rest of the stations want the program desperately, but they cannot afford the $5,200 a year required to produce the daily series. We deal with such things as the inner drama of childhood. We don't have to bop somebody over the head to make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut, or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively. How long a program is it? It's a half hour every day. Most channels schedule it in the noon time as well as in the evening.
WTA here has scheduled it in the late afternoon. Could we get a copy of this so that we can see it? Maybe not today, but I'd like to see the program. I'd like very much for you to see the program itself or any one of them. We made 100 programs for EEN, the Eastern Educational Network, and then when the money ran out, people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said we've got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care. And this is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying you've made this day a special day by just you're being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are. And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.
I think that it's much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger. Much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire. I'm constantly concerned about what our children are seeing. And for 15 years I have tried in this country and Canada to present what I feel is a meaningful expression of care. Do you narrate it? I'm the host, yes. And I do all the puppets and I write all the music and I write all the script. Well, I'm supposed to be a pretty tough guy and this is the first time I've had goosebumps for the last two days. Well, I'm grateful not only for your goosebumps, but for your interest in our kind of communication.
Could I tell you the words of one of the songs which I feel is very important? Yes. This has to do with that good feeling of control, which I feel that the children need to know is there. And it starts out, what do you do with the mad that you feel? And that first line came straight from a child. I work with children doing puppets in very personal communication with small groups. What do you do with the mad that you feel when you feel so mad you could bite? When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong and nothing you do seems very right. What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go? It's great to be able to stop when you've planned a thing that's wrong and be able to do something else instead and think this song.
I can stop when I want to. Can stop when I wish. Can stop, stop, stop any time. And what a good feeling to feel like this. And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there's something deep inside that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady and a boy can be someday a man. I think it's wonderful. I think it's wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million. That applause for a witness in the usually jaded setting of the Senate hearing rooms almost unprecedented. The next witness George Bear director of education for the South Carolina Educational Television Network Mr. Bear.
History is a great teacher. And I think if we look into the history of educational broadcasting thus far we would find it has gone through three phases. Initially when its chief support came from the cultured and the moneyed few it was as one practitioner described it artsy crafty. More judiciously it could be said in this early era that it provided programs strictly for the cultural enrichment of those who provided its support. It seems to me that as the face of support has spread so have the services offered by educational broadcast. The second phase we're now in as Hartford gun has made abundantly clear is the phase of social consciousness. When broadcasting is concerning itself with arousing the public to the agonies and the problems of our society.
There can be no doubt that healthy infusions of public money from local state and federal resources have helped to shape this era. It is also increasingly important and apparent that broadcasting can and should do more than just allow our alert and arouse. It can also help to alleviate and to satisfy needs in the society which supports it. It can certainly do so for children through Fred Rogers. And as a result I say it is entering its third phase. The phase in which it teaches in forms illuminates. In which it takes up its share of the burden of helping people down the long road to a richer wiser life. I come then not to plead for facilities for South Carolina or for Florida and I plead not for facilities in and of themselves.
Above all I plead that only when a broad base of public support is supported. Where we truly have public television. Most of the testimony or pleading to this point had directed itself to the immediate crisis. The extension of the Facilities Act and the appropriation of $20 million. The crucial and stickiest issue had not been raised today. That of long range financing for public broadcasting. Robert Montgomery, the actor, testifying for the National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting, broke that silence. The National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting in this past month. Send to each of you I believe a copy of its report on long range financing of public broadcasting by economics professor Dick Netzer, head of the All University Department of Economics of New York University. The reported dresses itself to the heart of the public broadcasting problem.
Funding. That report says that there should be a trust fund for public broadcasting. So as to remove the matter from annual appropriations review. While a representative of the National Association of Broadcasters, the shabbiest of the broadcast lobby just today said he thought money could come from the general treasury. He and his friends know the pitfalls of that route for public broadcasting. He knows the influences he and his friends could exert against public broadcasting along that path and so do we. To recapitulate Professor Netzer's report, there are five main points. He proposes in the National Citizens Committee concur that there should be a tax on commercial broadcasting's gross receipts at a rate of perhaps 4%. Yealing over $120 million annually to be assigned to the proposed trust fund. He proposes and we concur that there should be some system of charging for access to the spectrum. They designed to yield at least $50 million a year to be assigned to the proposed trust fund.
He proposes and we concur that there should be the establishment of the Ford Foundation's proposed broadcasters non-profit satellite system with 90% of its net proceeds assigned to the proposed trust fund yielding 20 million a year in money and substantial benefits in the value of free interconnection services. He proposes and we concur that there should be authority for public broadcasters to accept advertising under appropriate limits and controls. He proposes and we concur that there should be authority for public broadcasters to experiment with some form of subscription television. I ask if the National Citizens Committee's report long-range financing of public broadcasting and the committee trustees cover letter to the President and Congress be made part of this hearing's permanent record so that it may be studied by all with an interest in this matter. Could we include it by reference? Yes indeed you can. Any long-range financing of public broadcasting must provide funds that are adequate in amount. The flow of funds must be stable to permit long-range planning and program development. The method must provide growing amounts of money more or less automatically as the costs of public broadcasting rise.
It should not bear heavily on the poorer segments of the population and it should of course be demonstrably sensible. This describes the committee's report which wields a well-design combination of long-range financing proposals for public broadcasting into a single package, free of any real or fancy political domination and funded largely by those who profit most from the use of the public's airways, the corporations which control the networks. The plan is stable and the sums it would bring forth are substantial enough at long last to make non-commercial broadcasting technically, professionally and competitively capable of serving the whole public with the information and cultural diversity to which all of broadcasting is called and to which so little of broadcasting responds. In January 1967 the Carnegie Commission said that a strong public broadcasting system would require $270 million. The first congressional appropriation to the corporation for public broadcasting for fiscal 1969 was $5 million.
This in times when the revenues of the publicly licensed commercial broadcasters are at their highest and the fulfillment of their responsibilities at their lowest. I would like to point out here that the gross revenues of the three major network corporations are a little over $3 billion a year. Gentlemen, it has taken 50 years since full-time broadcasting began in this country. Let us look at the war-begone results of its commercial travels. Is there any question but that a minimum 20 million immediately be made available in the coming fiscal year for public broadcasting? I would plead with you for the adoption of the National Citizens Committee long-range financing report. With it a free and healthy public broadcasting system can become a reality. The words free and healthy are not used lightly. And I challenge anyone to say that commercial broadcasting can be called either free or healthy. Thank you very much for listening.
Well, thank you very much and I dare say that these suggestions that you're making here today are very provocative and require a tremendous amount of consideration of course. A suggestion was made by this committee that the whole matter be studied on a very high executive level, this question of long-range financing. And then of course we had a change in administration and no administration has taken over and we're awaiting that report but I understand the matter is being studied and would be well for us to wait until that report is made. And then at that time of course consider that in conjunction with the suggestions that you have brought out here today. But I will say this though of course when it comes to the matter of taxation I question whether or not it falls within the jurisdiction of this committee. It might have to go before the Houseways and Mees Committee on the question of imposition of attacks if that's going to be the answer to the problem.
But I quite agree with you that in the meantime there's so much that can be done anyway. And we provided that what they call seed money of $5 million, $10 million would only be two seeds and I think we need better sewing than that. I agree with you. The uncertainty over the method of future funding of public broadcasting is made more acute in some quarters along simmering fear over government control. This fear gave impetus a few weeks ago to the creation of the association of public television producers comprising public broadcast producers from both the national and local level. The day's last witness was Alvin Promutter, an executive producer for public affairs at NET who spoke as the acting chairman of the association which he said was deeply concerned that the freedom we have known thus far in public television is being threatened. We believe that the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 which gave birth to the corporation for public broadcasting and the public broadcast system failed to insulate our own journalistic freedom and integrity and our audience is right to know from governmental and special interest influence and control.
We hold at the present method of funding public television through annual congressional appropriations contains implicit dangers to journalistic enterprise and expression. We speak of this concern at a critical point in the medium's history. Certain fundamental decisions are being made which promise to define the outlines of public television for years to come. We the producers who have helped to find the medium's past achievements with our programs have not been consulted on these plans nor up to this time have we sought a voice. Now we do. It is our intention to exert our collective influence from now on to affect the decision making process with our judgment and to express our vision of how a truly public television medium could serve the nation. Today this committee is concerned with the funding of the corporation for public broadcasting. Everyone who has made himself heard in Congress on the subject of public broadcasting has agreed to the absolute necessity of finding long term funding for the corporation.
When President Johnson submitted the public television bill to Congress in 1967 he announced his intention of proposing a suitable long term financing method in 1968. When Congress passed the act it expressed a similar intention. Yet here we are in May of 1969 looking at another yearly appropriation. There is no hope for a vital and truly public broadcasting system supported largely by government funds until we find a realistic long term funding arrangement. Given these convictions we support S-1242 but we are concerned that a pattern of annual appropriations will be established. We urge that the corporation not come before Congress again for funds without definitive proposals for long term financing of public television. We urge this committee, the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, the Nixon Administration, the Ford Foundation, the management of NEG and PBL, the affiliate stations and all other concerned parties to work with the corporation for public broadcasting in designing a long range financing plan and working for its implementation until it is a reality.
We intend to do so and pledge our cooperation and support to anyone who shares our conviction. Thank you Mr. Chairman. But I dare say this though that I think you become overly alarmed over this philosophical reaction that merely coming to the Congress means that Congress is going to control what you write. We were specific in the law on that. We were very specific in the law on that. There was never any intention that you do that. And I'm afraid that unless you do come to the Congress at this time and maybe for several years to come this thing is going to die on the vine. That's another thing too and once something like this goes you don't resuscitate it too easily.
The thing here is to keep this thing propped up at a momentum which will gain speed and not lose speed. Because once you go down the hill I'm afraid you're going to run right up against a barrier and then smash it's all over. And that's our difficult job here. One administration recommended 20 million and for reasons best known to itself the next administration recommends 10 million. They have problems. They have problems on priorities. And we have problems in making a proper decision here and it's not easy. But as I said yesterday I have a strong feeling. I managed this bill on the floor. I was with it from its inception. I don't pretend to be the father of it. But I've certainly been a great proponent of it and a great advocate of it. And I've been in the vanguard of those who've been trying to keep this thing going. It hasn't been easy. It hasn't been easy. And there you are. I understand your problems but don't fret too much. We're not going to tell you what to write.
After the hearings ended I spoke to Pastari who during the last two days seemed to become more and more committed to the full 20 million dollar appropriation. I asked him whether realistically he thought the full amount would get through Congress. Well now at this juncture all I can do is talk for myself. As far as I'm concerned I think the 20 million dollars is a very modest figure at this point. You will recall that last year we funded it by five million dollars and we called it seed money. Well now we're off the ground. We've gained a certain amount of momentum. I'm afraid that we allow this to sag. You're going to get a relaxation of enthusiasm, of spirit, and actually of activity. Now I realize all the reasons why we must economize. I realize the strain upon the taxpayers and this idea of setting out priorities. But you got to realize that this is only a modest amount.
And it is indeed a very modest amount. And if you take and cut the 20 down to 10 on the authorization we don't know how much you'll get on funding. And the point is that what you might do is discourage this very impressive and dynamic thing that we're doing with public and educational television. And we've had what I would classify and characterize as a splendid hearing here. We've had these dedicated people that have come in here who have shown us what they're doing with children programs. What they're doing in order to bring about a kind of program that lifts up the morality of our people. I think they're doing a human job. They're doing a magnificent job. And as far as I'm concerned, I don't think that they should be discouraged. And my vote will be for the 20 billion dollars because I think it's money well spent. Are you hopeful of persuading your colleagues?
I am quite hopeful of that. Of course, when you get the funding, that's going to be another problem. But both for authorization and for funding, I would hope it would be about the 20 billion dollars. There are many places in government where we can cut. But there are some places sometimes when you make even a modest cut, you dissipate the program in a sense. And you injure the program to the point that sometimes you question whether or not you ought to go along at all. And in this particular case, I'm afraid if we cut it back materially or cut it back in half as has been suggested that we might jeopardize this whole concept and that to me would be tragic. Observing the hearings for the full two days has been Robert Louis Cheyon, television critic for the Saturday Review, and Professor of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Cheyon. The most entertaining way, perhaps, of thinking of the two-day Senate hearings on public television is to understand them as episodes in a continuing soap opera entitled Father Knows Best. The role of Father, obviously, is played by Senator Pastore, who has cast himself as Mr. Public Television in Congress, and who speaks for all the friendly uncles on the hill.
They would like to give public TV all the money it needs, but the weather outside is windy with budget cutting. Nevertheless, Father promises to do his level best to get 10, perhaps 20 million dollars to help the young child along. Now, public television has its own Father Knows Best types, and these testified yesterday. They were the administrators, the brass, the executives. And since Father generally understand their common problems, the fathers of public TV and their counterparts in Congress got along famously. Today, however, a dramatic note was introduced. You might say that the suns appeared, and unlike the administrators and managers, they spake up bravely and said things at the brass, and their wisdom did not. The suns, heroes of today's session, were the talent, the creative people who perform in and produce television programs. Historically in broadcasting, the administrators have always spoken for the talent, and the talent has been content to let Father get away with it.
Today, it was different. Fred Rogers, who is public television's second star, its new Julia Child, delivered a warm appealing hymn to childhood, and to the importance of building of self-esteem. He was easily the star of the show, and if children had votes, public television would be on Easy Street tomorrow. Robert Montgomery has long since given up playing juveniles, but his spirit is still young and rebellious. His sharp rebuke of the sins of commercial television were balanced by his presentation for the National Citizens Committee of Broadcasting of long-range plans for financing public TV. The testimony of the newly formed association of public television producers, given by Alvin H. Perlmutter of NET, was surely the most original turn in the plot. Broadcasting talent in the past has carefully avoided organizing for any reasons other than economic self-interest.
Here, for the first time, was a collective voice for talent, concerned and courageous enough to speak out about matters in the general public interest, namely the necessity for public television's independence from annual congressional appropriation. Father Pastore lectured him gently, warning him not to rile up those unfriendly uncles, and he reassured the producers that Congress was not out to tell them what to write. Our soap opera does not end on an upbeat note, despite all reassurances. For one thing, the great white father in the White House conspicuously failed to give strong support to his educational sons. The best he could do was to send a message, cutting the Senate authorization bill from 20 to $10 million. Then, there are those economy-minded fathers waiting in the House of Representatives, many of whom think of public TV as candy the kids can do without. So, will Father Pastore really get that $20 million he promised Fred Rogers?
Is the family on Pennsylvania Avenue really working on those long-range financing plans? Will the powerful commercial broadcasters lobby stand for a gross profit tax? Tune in tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. And don't forget, folks, you the American people are the biggest father of them all. This is Robert Lewis-Shayon. However, it is phrased. The concern of the past two days of men and women deeply dedicated to public broadcasting and what it can become is that it become truly public. Not necessarily in the character of its financing, but in its ability, because money is available to reflect, record, and react to the public it wants so badly to serve. A public it believes once just as badly to be served. This is Dick McCutcheon. Good evening. Just a short interview.
Thank you very much. This is NET, the public television network. Nationwide distribution of the preceding program is a service of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
- National Educational Television and Radio Center
- Contributing Organization
- Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Persons scheduled to testify the second day of the hearings were Governor Marvin Mandel of Maryland; an unnamed witness; William Harley, president of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters; Hartford Gunn, Jr., general manager of station WGBH, Boston; Fred Rogers, star of NET's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"; and Floyd Christian, commissioner of education and state superintendent of schools, Florida. Running time: 58:38 (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
- Series Description
- President Johnson, in his final budget message, recommended $20 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, four times more than Congress authorized for the CPB last year. On April 29 and 30, the Communications Sub-committee of the Senate Commerce Committee conducted hearings to determine how much of Johnsons recommended figure will be given the CPB for the coming fiscal year. NETs special-projects unit presented an hour of highlights for each of the sessions. Dick McCutcheon is the host of both episodes, and Robert Lewis Shayon, television critic for the Saturday Review, provides approximately three minutes of commentary at the conclusion of each part. Public Television Hearings is a production of NETs special-projects unit. The two episodes were both originally recorded in color on videotape. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
- Broadcast Date
- Asset type
- Event Coverage
- Media type
- Moving Image
Executive Producer: Schnurman, Ned
Host: McCutchen, Dick
Producer: Jones, Edward Magruder
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Reporter: Shayon, Robert Lewis
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2107682-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 2 inch videotape: Quad
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2107682-2 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 1 inch videotape: SMPTE Type C
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2107682-3 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Copy: Access
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- Chicago: “NET Special: Public Television Hearings; 2,” 1969-05-01, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-516-t72794201n.
- MLA: “NET Special: Public Television Hearings; 2.” 1969-05-01. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-516-t72794201n>.
- APA: NET Special: Public Television Hearings; 2. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-516-t72794201n