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In a time of peril and opportunity the old complacent on balanced pair of action adventure and situation comedies is simply not good enough. We cannot be any lower than we've been. If we get an ethic of any description you will be the first ethic we've had. I do believe that in the next few years the industry is going to discover more and more that it has missed the boat. Now obviously I think at this moment we are being manipulated we are being bulldozed in a couple of cases we we've actually been greatly deceived by broadcasters. We either hand together or we hang separately as a culture looking for the villain of the piece is already a distortion of one's point of view. Those voices belong to Newton Minow chairman of the Federal Communications Commission David Susskind producer the Reverend William Lynch educator
Dr. Edward Rosenheim educator and child educator. This is 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 13 for broadcasting. And now here is your host John Campbell. We have interviewed some 40 men prominent in broadcasting and related areas. The results of the interviews were divided into five spheres of influence. The broadcaster the audience the advertiser the lawmaker and the critic. The background noises were those of
Times Square an airport a news room an office. What have you for we interviewed these men on the go on the spot in an effort to evolve an ethic for broadcasting. This ethic should not be thought of as the ephemeral stuff of philosophy. It is no more and no less difficult to discuss an ethic for broadcasting than it is to discuss ethics concerning man generally his behavior his society and since broadcasting has become so much an integral part of that society. Ethics in relation to it certainly should be someone's concern. In the preceding programs you've heard expressed views reactions and suggestions for the improvement of broadcasting. Where do we go from here. To whom do we turn. We follow the order of the series as we hear first from the broadcasters of the art. David Susskind is asked if they're going to evolve some kind of a workable ethic for broadcasting where we will do ethical business broadcasting cultural broadcasting interviews.
I'm tremendously sanguine about the future because I first believe the only direction we have from where we are is up. I'm very happy about the possibility of an athlete from broadcasting because there has been no f like you suggesting that we can sink any lower. I'm not suggesting stating categorically we cannot be any lower than we've been. If we get an ethic of any description it will be the first ethic we've had and I think both are inevitable progress in an upward direction. We can't go down and the evolving of an ethic since we've never had one before we may get half and I think some half an ethic would be better than none. Martin the grand scheme network newsman says I'm very encouraged as I indicated earlier in the much greater emphasis that is being brought to bear now on Public Service Broadcasting which interests me particularly. This is a subjective interpretation. As a newsman this is an area in which I operate the scenario
in which naturally I have the greatest interest. I feel that while news was never involved as far as the networks are concerned in this whole payola investigation that it has had a very advantageous effect on the networks in that this has been the one area which has been outside beyond criticism because it has been intelligently and decently conducted. I inclined to feel that one very happy result is that the networks have now set a value on public service programming that is much higher than it was before. Let us hope that it will go still higher. Fellow newsman David Brinkley expresses it this way when he says I hope that by exposing some of television's wrongdoing that might cause people to look at some of their own and other feel as if we have to be the.
More not the scapegoat if we have to be the catalyst and that's alright. I think maybe that might be a fine public service for us to do that I would rather somebody else did it. Well this is a problem that everybody thinks that everyone else is wrong accusing fingers were pointed but they've met with other recusing thinkers I suspect so I get I think. In 1948 when Harry Truman ran for president he kept making speeches about the special interests and people said oh that's wonderful IRA give him hell and everybody thought the special interest interests were somebody else never realizing he was talking about them. That is farm groups labor groups business groups. It is always assume that when you talk about crookedness corruption greed suspect pressure groups you're talking about somebody else. I guess the answer to that is for people to examine them themselves and their own motivations and their own actions and see if maybe the shoe doesn't fit them as to an ethic Mike Wallace
TV personality says the ethics of broadcasting as far as I'm concerned is give it back to the broadcasters. And then once having given it back to the broadcasters if they do not honor the trust and they are I repeat again they are the trustees of their license. If they don't honor that trust then get them out of the business. It is an informational educational entertainment medium. They are the trustees of the airwaves. Let them honor that trust and let them and them alone control what goes on there. Herbert Evans president of the people's Broadcasting Corporation sees two avenues for broadcasting as he says. I see broadcasting dividing into two directions. I. Hear one area will be purely entertainment they are a low level grinding it out type of thing that
I will see broadcasting other groups and a very large group. Moving into the satisfaction of the needs and hopes and aspirations of not only American people in the world. I see signs of this happening. If you get a good man and put him in charge of something he's not going to be satisfied with cheapness and noise. Just bewilderment. And then we might bring into broadcasting the keenest minds that we have. One of our problems. We bring him into young but I'm here because I've got anything inside to talk about. And I think broadcasting people should travel. To see the world. They should be I'm more unrest in the kind of books the boy read. If he's a real person. I with some depth then we could do something with it. I do this kind of group. I come into broadcasting it was later the keenest minds well prepared people I truly needed to do this job not the quick sale fast buck
artists if they can be called that Charles statement head of the communications program at New York University turns to the audience for the art as we ask since we are concerned here with developing an ethic for broadcasting I wonder if this thing is such an ephemeral use of such an ephemeral nature that is it escapes us. Like using fingers are pointed only to be met with other accusing fingers in the final analysis who is responsible for developing this for broadcasting. It's a beautiful question on a very difficult one. I think if I had to answer it in a sentence I would say the error lies in looking for that who that isn't any one person who is responsible for this. We either hang together or we hang separately. As a culture looking for a love villain of the piece is already a distortion of one's point of view. The point as you say the finger of scorn at the broadcast. This doesn't solve the problem. The problem is an
endemic social cultural problem. It is that the degree of the absence of a sense of responsibility throughout culture from those who need responsibility most namely those who have great power right down to you and me who have seemingly no power but as individuals in this democracy still have or should have a voice. Mr. SWEETMAN turns on his own trade as he says 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 is an endemic problem for 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 of respect for issues of this kind. Well not only respect but awareness. The realisation that they exist. Another educator Dr. Edward Rosenheim chairman of the humanities program at the University of Chicago continues this train of thought as he points to the broader spectrum of concern. I think in the most fundamental sense the problems of broadcasting and the task of talking about its future. I know different from similar problems and similar Tass seen in the context of such things as American the American educational system the character of American literature or the character of the American theater. The whole total question of how Americans use their leisure time or some even some of the more profound questions about the way in which Americans vote the degree of interest and responsibility of show with respect to
politics and song. In other words the answer to the question of broadcasting future lies with the ethos of the American people. 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 moral problems involved thing I have a hunch it is we the people and not any policymaker not of the advertiser on any broadcaster but it is we who will. Possible from Hope future exposure to and recognition of the problem. Again awareness or is it like Martin the groundskeeper points out in a bit of verse. The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common but turns the greater felon loose who steals the common from the
goose. Well what happens an awful lot in the area society is that the common is being stolen from the goose and the silly geese stand around in the blog that the advertiser has heard next. Robert Foreman executive vice president and director of baton Barton Dustin Osborne is I ask that since our series here is concerned with developing an ethic for broadcasting. And we have been with you define the term I think. You have already suggested that that's the burden of responsibility is on the advertiser possibly to develop this one. What do you see in the future do you see a trend toward being more ethical deservingly as a business best occasions are bound to make that right now in every advertising agency that prepares any piece of copy for the medium of television. I can assure you that nobody whether it's a writer or a
film producer or an advertiser himself who approves or disapproves of the storyboard and then the final film is not very very conscious of today's problems and they are very different from yesterday's problems. And I think they're going to find a tasteful copy as well as honest copy sells. And every one of them would prefer to do things this way. Every advertiser has is also a human being and a citizen of it. Democracy most of them have children and are concerned about what their children see or don't see on television. And this enables them to do the thing well as they would like to do it and be successful at success. The sweet smell of which is sought by all here and one who has been successful is Sylvester Pat Weaver of McCann-Erickson. He speaks here of controls as we ask Mr. Weaver why me back to our original question and concern of the ethics of broadcasting. What do you think
the future holds and whom is the responsibility here for trying to develop an ethic for broadcasting. Well the complete control of broadcasting in the country rests with the three networks. They have really all control therefore they have to step up and take the responsibility. There is nobody in Hollywood is going to make shows except in consultation with them because they're the market. There's nobody none of the stations can possibly go into programming on their own there is no facility so that independents like myself because I tried it could go out and start a competitive service because you have no facilities. Your advertisers essentially are in a different business they're selling goods. In other words their interest is really peripheral in terms of what you're talking about. And the agencies after all are the agents for their clients they do what serves their clients in terms of building more sales of goods and services. They can all be very
responsible in the way they act and what they buy how they advertise and all those things. But essentially we will not have a literate civilized balanced service in the country without the networks dedicating themselves to something more than being the pipes through which anybody's stuff flows they must be the editor as well as the printing press they must run the business they must run the business. But a watchful law is one more watchful than it has been in the past is cast by the law maker toward this big business. Newton Minow chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from a now famous speech made before the National Association of Broadcasters said that in a time of peril and opportunity the old complacent on balanced fare of action adventure and situation comedies is simply not good enough. Your industry possesses the most powerful voice in America.
It has an inescapable duty to make that voice ring with intelligence and with the leadership in a few years this exciting industry has grown from a novelty to an instrument of overwhelming impact on the American people. It should be making ready for the kind of leadership that newspapers and magazines assumed years ago to make our people aware of their world. Ours has been called the jet age the atomic age the space age. It is also why I submit the television age and just as history will decide. Whether the leaders of today's world employ the atom to destroy the world or rebuild it for mankind's benefit. So Will history decide whether today's broadcasters employed their powerful voice to enrich the people or to debase them in Richmond or debasement when it doesn't take too much listening or viewing to see which of these two gets the nod.
Mr Mina was concerned about this as he continues. Let me make clear that what I am talking about is balance. I believe that the public interest is made up of many interests. There are many people in this great country and you must serve all of us. You will get no argument from me if you say that given a choice between a western and a symphony more people will watch the Western. I like Westerns too but a steady diet for the whole country is obviously not in the public interest. We all know that people would more often prefer to be entertained than stimulated or informed. But your obligations are not satisfied. If you look only to popularity as a test of what you broadcast. You are not only in show business you are free to communicate ideas as well as relaxation. You must provide a wider range of choices more diversity more alternatives. It is not enough to cater to the nation's whims.
You must also serve the nation's needs. The people own the air and they own it as much in prime evening time as they do at 6 o'clock Sunday morning. For every hour that the people give you you owe them something. And I intend to see that your debt is paid with service. We ask the United States attorney general's office some questions concerning ethics. And here Robert Kramer assistant attorney general reacts to the question concerned with the placing of the burden of responsibility. I expect it is plain under existing law. The Verdun is primarily based on the individual station licensee. He is responsible for what goes out over the air on his day. That is the law at the present time and I think there is no dispute as to that. That is the law but disputes have arisen and the innumerable interpretations begin William Proxmire United States senator from Wisconsin sums up his
feelings this way. I wonder how good the American people are likely to be if we have a media which panders do taste which fails to challenge which doesn't have controversy which refuses to stimulate and provoke the American people as it could and as it should. When we compare our media with the media in other countries it's wonderful in some ways it's more entertaining it's more exciting it's more varied. But in terms of cultural content in terms of moral appeal it is lacking in distinctly lacking. I feel very strongly that we should as I've said before on this program I want to conclude by saying it. I think we should somehow appoint secure the appointment of outstanding Americans who will make it their duty and their responsibility to observe our radio and television and will suggest goals and standards by which American television American radio
to which I should say they can aspire. And by which they can achieve the kind of world that we believe America should live up to. Oren Harris representative from Arkansas and chairman of the special subcommittee on legislative oversight puts it this way. I fully realize the importance of this problem which faces not only the Congress in the industry but the American people when our committee first started this investigation. I must say frankly that it was not received very well by the public generally. I'm talking about the so-called quiz show problems. But after the American people began to fully realize how they had been deceived and a lot of these so-called quiz show programs were actually not on the
level then this sentiment changed and the American people I feel is largely and support of this committed effort. And I would say probably 95 to 98 percent according to our own mail. But we realize there are powerful interests involved and that it is going to take a lot of effort to bring about corrections. I'm glad to say that the committed effort thus far has accomplished a lot a lot of good. I think these agencies involved are doing their job with more and greater determination now than they have for the last seven years. Number one and number two I think we have shown that the American people and the Congress that the Congress does have a responsibility in this field and seeing that the public interest is also protected. Even if we do not get legislation is needed we will have accomplished that much.
But in order to do the whole job as of today we should have the cooperation of the public and those who are involved if the future is going to mean anything to all of us in bringing about corrective action corrective action who brings the pressures to bear to see that this is done here Newton Minow returns to say for those few of you who really believe that the public interest is merely what interests the public. I hope that these hearings will arouse no little interest. Mr Minow puts the or else this way. Tell your sponsors to be less concerned with cost per thousand and more concerned with understanding for millions. And remind your stockholders that an investment in broadcasting is buying a share in public responsibility. The Rev. William Lynch of Georgetown University suggests what he sees as to the future of
broadcasting. Well I am always a little scared by these big questions and perhaps I am not answering your question when I say the following. I do believe that in the next few years the industry is going to discover more and more that it has missed the boat and if it had been frightened in the last six months. And if it many job it is throwing a smoke screen over the central problem I do believe this problem is going to emerge and there will not be able to escape it. This situation could begin to be corrected tomorrow morning. But there is still not Jewish. I fervently hope that the financial impact in the next few years will frighten the industry to death. Marcus Charles syndicated columnist sees broadcasting moving this way.
Well very simply I am not really hopeful that the networks will themselves raise the level of their problem and they will find a way to give a part of the audience which I don't know how much how large that part that is 20 percent 30 percent whatever something. Terms of lively discussion of the issues. Something in terms of music and drama that are really worthwhile and stimulating and provocative. I hope this will happen without too much government interference that it will come out of the kind of discussion have you. Yes now that you come out of the agitation in Congress and that perhaps is by the simplest sort of legislation you will be able to win some of the worst venality which is so demoralizing for a country that can't stand very much more demoralizing. And there you have them the voices which have set forth a solemn stating the viewer's reactions arguments contentions which put together we hope have said more than the
cacophonous sounds and images which are the springboard for their speech. Though we may be accused of sounding like some latter day softest we make the following pronouncements. The five conclusions for the five spheres of influence. Number one that the broadcasters obligation is to afford to provide more programming which would stimulate rather than stultified for he in the final analysis has the control over what is broadcast. So send forth more of the stuff of ideas than the stuff of entertainment. Both are needed but in their proper ratio and perspective. Secondly attract the best minds to the field. Don't list the Emersonian qualifications and then end up hiring button pushing atomic tons. Yes get this enormous voices but be sure that they are able to say something when those voices are clamorous for expression. Number two that the audience set forth in whatever manner it chooses its honest reactions to the broadcast fair the letter or the phone call or Finally the click of the off button could be the sound heard round the
broadcasting world number three that the advertiser sponsor more diverse programming which projects and extends the thought images of the listener rather than seeking only to cater to his base needs. Let's have the explosions of ideas as well as guns on a horizon somewhat longer than 13 weeks. Number four that the lawmaker exert his influence through existing power to make responsibility the key word when awarding the freedom to broadcast number five that the critics of broadcasting have a responsibility beyond their momentary reactions to suggest more often the social and philosophic import of that which is or is not broadcast. Be he an educator clergyman or professional critic. Someone must make the intellectual intuitive if you will judgements to stem the tide of what appears to be a rapidly degenerating sense of values. But one person alone cannot do all of this. Charles statement puts the period to our thoughts as he suggests how we can come by what is the
only solvent of this question in his degree the assumption by each and all of us of a voice and a responsible voice in the free marketplace of thought. Respecting issues of this kind that is your answer. You have been listening to I think for broadcasting the last in a series of 13 documentary programs which have investigated the current broadcasting trends compiled from interviews with men who make broadcasting their business. Your host was Dr. John campus of the Detroit Institute of Technology. Producer for the series is Dr. Marion Cusack of Michigan State University Oakland I think for broadcasting was produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center and is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end EBV Radio Network.
Ethic for broadcasting
Summary and conclusions
Producing Organization
WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program provides a summary for the series and offers some conclusions.
Series Description
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: Siepmann, Charles A. (Charles Arthur), 1899-1985
Interviewee: Rosenheim, Edward W.
Interviewee: Lynch, William
Interviewee: Minow, Newton N., 1926-
Interviewee: Susskind, David, 1920-1987
Producer: Cusack, Marianne
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-52-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:07
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Chicago: “Ethic for broadcasting; Summary and conclusions,” 1961-12-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “Ethic for broadcasting; Summary and conclusions.” 1961-12-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Ethic for broadcasting; Summary and conclusions. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from