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I think the world's gotten so complicated and so mixed up we could still cry our eyes out when some child is lost in a well that's one person but a hundred thousand starving in some part of the allure of the world I would feel sorry about it but it's hard to personalize it and we're moving so fast in our civilization. I think people are losing their sensitivity. And of course broadcast media touch the lives of the American people so closely that we are sensitive and if we see programs that we don't like we may react. Some people will write to their congressman Some people write to the FCC. Letters are beginning to be written. They have these calls shivers to run up the corporate spying because you know the man is spending his money for television advertising is spending it to create goodwill for his product and his company.
I don't think we feel strongly enough about radio on television today. I don't think we feel strongly enough firmly enough about education or about motion pictures or about books as far as that goes. Those voices belong to Herbert Evans broadcaster Dr. Walter Emory educator David Susskind program producer and Dr. Edward Rosenheim educator. Beyond. This is ethics for broadcasting a series of 13 documentary radio programs compiled from interviews with men who make broadcasting their business. This series is produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters program 5. The audience for
the art part 2 and now here is your host John Campbell as the expression of opinion has always been a cherished privilege of free people everywhere. This freedom has been fought for throughout the history of Manby the wars actually are ideological. In the main though these expressions should must be a cut above the sound and fury which signifies nothing standing solidly in the free marketplace of thought must be a touchstone. And this is best exemplified by a sense of responsibility that that which is communicated is responsible communication bringing to bear on a practical and theoretical experience to impart in these critical epithets which are hurled more than bombast and abuse not mere emotion but that which comes from sober reflection. The crux of the question then is not the freedom to express but what is expressed. For if denied the freedom of speech. Man knows what to do but given the freedom of speech does he know what to say. To what extent does broadcasting contribute to be it through the
dulcet tones of an announcer or through the mouth of the listener voices clamorous for expression but empty of meaning. The kind which morals and produces concerted action in progressing societies every one need not be a philosopher spewing forth pearls of wisdom. Every one cannot produce deathless prose but involvement is within the realm of everyone who is within earshot of these media which are our concern on this series. But how what kind of involvement. What does it take to get any reaction. William Brooks my United States senator from Wisconsin discusses this point well I'd say. That the American public is likely to respond depending primarily on two factors one of which I mention and that is the quality and nature an attitude of the present United States. And then the second is the situation that confronts us. People are going to get very excited
until they can feel taste see smell emergency. We got tremendously involved in economic problems in the 1030 is why because people were actually out of work themselves or they had over they had a brother a sister a mother a father who was. And they they became involved in it for this reason. They they were deeply involved in military strategy during World War Two during the Korean War because they had relatives and people involved. Now in the absence of this I think it it takes a challenge in the present United States. I think it takes a leadership also on the part of newspapers and television and radio to call the attention of the American people to the kind of a very difficult situation we live in which we are going to have a four year war or perhaps not even a four month war or a four week war this is a war that could be over in four hours. And for that reason. To prepare the American people so we can protect ourselves and prevent such a war I think is going to take an unusual kind
of leadership quality that we haven't had that is better than we were talking about. Room is one of the people being you can be aware as they themselves were. I wonder if there's a rumor of about insulating the American public which the broadcasters have been doing. These people are out of touch with ideas because we are a little reticent. Rove has come through there's a very little there isn't a drug test IDEA program because we will alienate this winter and will buy the products that went through the program. I couldn't agree more with that I think there's no question in my mind at all that we need urgently need controversy and discussion. Water badges. Wonderful book on physics and politics written years ago was along this very line of the great strength of democracy is the strength of discussion and difference of controversy. This is the kind of thing we ought to seize on and develop and cherish. And the the it's very sad that we do have a commercial system which tends to push aside some controversy and prevent it and discourage it because it's
unnatural from hand to think it's unnatural for all of us to think ideas are difficult things to come by they are easy we don't just follow the line of least resistance and accomplish anything with our mind. We only do it when we're provoked. When will we have to fight at least to intellectually fight when we have to argue. And this is the kind of thing that a strong country I think a democracy can grow and build on. This is a source of our real strength versus communism. The finger is pointed but what. To be met by other accusing fingers. Dr Walter Emery Michigan State University professor defends the listening audience. But all through the years there has been a concern on the part of the public regarding broadcast media and their effects upon our culture and upon our thinking. And of course broadcast media touch the lives of the American people so closely
we are sensitive and if we see programs that we don't like we may react. Some people will write to their congressman Some people write to the FCC. And so in the past few years. There has been a great deal of reaction against some radio and television programming and I think that the quiz scandals of course precipitated this concern and a great deal of pressure as a result of the quiz scandals and more recently the payola practices. Congress has reacted to this public concern. The FCC has put in the position of having to do something and I think the hearings grew out of this agitation that something be done about the quiz
scandals and the payola practices and the general concerned with the quality of programming was not as high as it ought to be. The concern for quality Doctor Emory suggests hit its high point with the quiz program investigations. But I think that in the case of the quiz scandals there was a genuine concern I think a large number of people in this country were concerned enough that they expressed this feeling. And there have been other times back in the 40s. When Mr. Fly was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. I can remember that the FCC received a lot of mail at that particular time. But I would say that in the last two years probably public opinion has expressed itself more than in any other period in the history of the FCC.
David Susskind program producer goes on to give reasons for this why. Because the public I think is becoming articulately fed up with this. I think television is not a subject of ridicule. I think the sets are being watched but not with brains and hearts. I think it's just kind of a sick happen in the American household goods are not being sold in the numbers that they must be sold to justify the cost to television and thus the sponsors beginning to stare with Graph and sales chart in hand and ask ugly questions of his agency. Networks are beginning to show red figures on their ledger. There is a kind of glorious discontent manifesting itself in and out of this will come the kind of heroic showman needed to save the situation. When you mention two terms showman and public on whom would you put the burden of responsibility here. Both simultaneously the public has been too apathetic it's been mired in Amercian
indifference and insensitivity. Favorite line of mine is George Bernard Shaw's that if you give the public what it wants long enough it pretty soon begins to want when it gets this public has begun to want the junk it it's getting and it must articulate its on the happiness of the average father and mother of a household has been gone now to be unhappy about what his children are watching the bloodshed the mayhem the violence the absence of any constructive intelligent programming. He's also becoming sensitive for the first time that he could do something about it that the airwaves belong to the people. He's beginning to write letters he's beginning to protest he's beginning to ridicule them. When he does this in sufficient numbers he will induce broadcasters and sponsors to make changes that are desperately needed. For most of the broadcasters and sponsors fear the feel of this articulation through the program ratings and I satisfied these and well know
letters are beginning to be written in these cause shivers to run up the corporate spine because you know the man is spending his money for television advertising is spending it to create goodwill for his product and his company. If he gets letters that expressed utter distaste it makes him blanch. He says to you the packager of the producer. Look I'm spending my money to women friends who need these enemies these letters they say they'll never buy my toothpaste again. That's blasphemy I cry. You've got to do something to fix it so we don't get these letters anymore. And you suggest perhaps an alternative to that might be upgrading program ie not treating the public as a pack of idiots not assuming the national mentality be twelve and a half years of age you know I think we're going to dance through it and I think the result of all of this investigation and hoopla is to give a real blue layering White Heat focus to television
which will smoke it out of battle. Quiet Room where the men sit about planning the national entertainment diet impervious and indifferent to responsibilities or even the the idea that anybody is watching. The notion that you can put on dreadful television and nobody will notice is ridiculous you're naked in front of a hundred million people every time you go in there. And now the people have you noticed the governments beginning to notice clergymen educators and even ordinary husbands and wives are beginning to notice this is terribly healthy and long overdue long overdue. Maybe the listening public will act to government agencies act one of these. The Federal Trade Commission does through a program outlined here by its chairman Earl W. Kantner a program which at least reviews the advertising side of the media. But we have had a monitoring program of
broadcasting advertising radio and TV for about three years here at the Federal Trade Commission. We have monitored advertising on a sampling basis and incidentally we have for many more years sampled and monitored advertising in the printed media so that the extension of our monitoring program its step up was merely an extension of a relatively old program with us what if any specific action is taken. What prompts you in the main to take action in the way of policing that advertising. We were forced to step up our policing of advertising because of the flood of complaints received from the public. It is our job to see that those
complaints are attended to to investigate possible areas of illegality and as more and more people pointed out to us of particular advertising which they thought to be false and misleading. We in turn were obliged to investigate those matters. So that it was the flood of complaints primarily which caused us to step up our policing in the field of advertising and to do this we had necessarily to divert some money from other very pressing programs of law enforcement of this agency. What about the number of violations. The number of investigations currently being carried on I could not estimate the number of cases that we have under investigation. I perhaps some clue to the
problem here at the commission and be given from 10 beginning from the fact that in a normal here we would perhaps have forty five hundred letters off complaint from the public. In a year now we are receiving letters of complaint at the rate of one thousand per month. What moves people to act or in this case react. Earlier Senator Proxmire suggested that this only happens when a sense of urgency is felt. Can people the general public be taught a sense of criticism. The Rev. William Lynch of Georgetown University suggested that at least a particular group can when he says I have strongly urged one thing that I think would be extremely valuable in all of our schools we have always been anxious to give what we might call for lack of a bit better word a literary education a training in the fundamental
let her achievement of Western civilization. I have. I think we have gone under the assumption that it is somewhat naive that if we do this then the ordinary boy or girl will transfer his tastes and conclusions to the culture within which he lives. I think this is a bit of a snare and a delusion we think to be somewhat too passive for this. What I have begged that we do is that we insert into our classrooms in high schools and colleges and university level. And I don't medical study of what goes on for good or bad in the central mass media so that we are doing what is fundamentally necessary for a solution of this problem. Developing the critical intelligence nationally so that they can no longer say so daringly and outrageously. We are giving the people what we want. This once again is to become very definite to invade the
classroom with the problem. But can the impetus for action come from the self come from within. Must someone sound the clarion call to move those of us who as Suskind says are mired in inertia. William H. Stringer chief of the Washington bureau of The Christian Science Monitor points out that what happens usually when any reform comes along any improvement is that there are small group of thinking people who begin to just say well look something ought to be done here and they make their their lives vocal and then it reaches a larger group than the ripples spread across the pond and many more people become interested in the very fact that you're taking these this sort of testimony shows concern about it by a group. I would think that if you if the effective way to go about it I think we always turn to the president in the White House he's sort of the father image in Washington
that is supposed to solve all our problems and we expect him to speak out on all sorts of questions whether it's on civil rights or in attention to Latin America or all other subjects. Well now if he would speak out on this question he could do a great deal in the space of one press conference to mobilize public opinion. I think the one thing I'm afraid about in this is that there will be some slight improvements but then the real issue of making a. Big step forward in improving the point in making use of the potentialities of television will be lost for some time because the public will settle back and say well we're getting one more news program for night than we did and we have a few less murders to murders for evening on TV. And anyway we like these westerns again until the public is a
roused so we constantly return to John Doe citizen the listener the viewer the recipient of that which is broadcast or as Dr. Paul B Ricard director of broadcasting at Wayne State University puts it. Well it's my judgment first of all John that this problem will not be solved by the broadcasting industry. There is going to be some compulsion. It is my hope this compulsion is across the board applicable to all people in the industry and is not an attempt on the part of any regulatory body to get specific as regards individual programs. I think education has a very real responsibility here but I think in the final analysis the responsibility is that of the American people generally. The broadcasters are going to put on what they view and listen to. I think we somewhat have our tongue in cheek. If we complain about what is put on when we are responsible for what is being put on I think of the American people look at something different. They will get
something different. Another educator Dr. Edward Rosenheim associate professor of humanities at the University of Chicago restates the case was put forth by Senator Proxmire when he says when we do feel strongly enough about a thing we generally see that thing gets done. I don't think we feel strongly enough about radio and television today. I don't think we feel strongly enough or firmly enough about education or about motion pictures or about books as far as that goes. Curiously enough I believe where we're a remarkably intelligent bunch of people collectively. If we only get aroused and only get exposed. Some of the issues that lie here in this broadcasting problem only get exposed to some of the pleasures of the proper use of broadcasting can afford. We school teachers repeatedly have the experience of seeing kids who are indifferent or even hostile to the sort of thing that traditionally or are the concern of the humanities. Great great
literature great music great art an exciting thing about teaching these things is that the indifferent or even hostile student. Somehow when he gets interested in these things and discovers what they're like becomes enthusiastic in acquiring knowing and in general happier because he does know these things and does go after them. Well I suspect if we can somehow bring ourselves to a point in which we are tasteful enough to recognize that much of what has gone on in broadcasting has been pretty shabby and if we are also aware I think as responsible citizens of some of the moral problems involved then I have a hunch it is we the people and not any policymaker not of the advertiser not any broadcaster but it is we who will. Make possible a far more hopeful future exposure. We want this. But what kind is the question. Again the problem of involvement confronts us. What choices are there. Why do we find this to be difficult.
Herbert Evans Director of broadcasting for the Nationwide Insurance company suggests an answer. I think the world has gotten so complicated and so mixed up we can still cry our eyes out when some child is lost in a well that's one person but a hundred thousand starving in some part of the other world I would feel sorry about it but it's hard to personalize. And we're moving so fast and I civilization I think people are losing their sensitivity. What is it then the responsibility of the communications media the spreading of the spoken word to personalize this debate have totally and absolutely one of the men in this room right now is to spend time talking to refugees in the camps in Jordan. People watch the story back. This is a different story than the typical newspaper article I enjoyed because it got the feel of
what was going I think we have really got a glorious opportunity to do some of these things. I think it lost its imagination for a while I went into music you know to play records and then ripping off some news which by the way if you missed any one word of it you could have heard of the competing station within ten minutes. And this was easy money. A lot of the some of the clever people got into TV the more imaginative people and I think radio now is on its way back in a real way with a definite program in this whole rock n roll stuff won't even go with the kids anymore and this is going to be abandoned. And look at all the stations that are now talking about being good music space. Good music fine but what about good ideas. Some have suggested that this could be done by resorting to pay-TV. This has been a bone of
contention for several years now and here Mike Wallace television personality suggests why and how this might work. Because then you're going to your box office. If you have an interesting mass production entertainment I can see that you might get 30 or 40 million people by the same token if you just want to reach a group of 2 or 3 million Americans in a pay-TV situation you can do that. You can you can entertain minority groups on television and that is one of the biggest complaints now that we have to we have to appeal to everybody and in order to make programming economically feasible in so-called free television and pay television you wouldn't have to as Mr. Stanton said you're serving more people more. Let me ask you about your I think part of me says serving most of the people most of the time by whose standards you see serving most of the people most of the time. And how does he know that he's serving most of the people most of the time. And is it not the function of our love. Let me put it another way. Is it the function of television to slave usually
serve an image of what it believes to be most of the people or is it not the function of a good deal of television more than that of television and is currently used being used for this too. It sounds fairly pompous but to improve the tastes in entertainment of the American the American public and any public for that matter has proved time and again that it will go where it is led even into adult sophisticated literate programming. People will go where they are led. Well then why isn't there more leading Charles Slepian head of the communications program at New York University suggests one answer. Something has happened to education. That has brought children up to the point at which the atmosphere the climate of opinion in which they have grown up is such that they feel helpless on the one hand and perfectly natural in adjusting themselves to accepted practices. Here is an
endemic problem. The roots of which I think none of us can discover but this is what the is the only ultimate point of interest in the recent scandals in broadcasting it has thrown a beam of light on a problem that transcends broadcasting and mass communication in its entirety. And raises the question of survival of us as a culture how we can come by. What is the bonus element of this question in his degree the assumption by each and all of us of choice and a responsible voice in the free marketplace of thought respecting issues of this kind. That is your nonsense adjustment and accepted practices which bring about a kind of feedback which leads to what might be called unethical incest gnawing away of the moral fiber where ethics are a function of context. So what habitude. So what. Well it would appear that the listener bears the burden of responsibility to search his own conscience for an honest reaction to that which disturbs
Ethic for broadcasting
Audience for the art, part 2
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WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two parts, asks if the audience is really there for more thoughtful media output.
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This series presents interviews that center on issues in broadcasting and society.
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Film and Television
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Host: Cambis, John
Interviewee: Proxmire, William
Interviewee: Rosenheim, Edward W.
Interviewee: Wallace, Mike, 1918-2012
Interviewee: Emery, Walter B. (Walter Bryan), 1903-1971
Interviewee: Lynch, William
Interviewee: Susskind, David, 1920-1987
Interviewee: Evans, Herbert
Producer: Cusack, Marianne
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-52-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:05
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Chicago: “Ethic for broadcasting; Audience for the art, part 2,” 1961-10-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2022,
MLA: “Ethic for broadcasting; Audience for the art, part 2.” 1961-10-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2022. <>.
APA: Ethic for broadcasting; Audience for the art, part 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from