Senate hearings on public broadcasting; Ford Foundation, part two
Members of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on communications had many questions to ask representatives of the Ford Foundation. Many of the questions were generated by these remarks from Foundation President George Bundy. We are in the curious position in this deeply impoverished field and I. Fully agree with what chairman says that the root of the problem here is poverty. Desperate poverty really throughout the system of educational television and as the private organization which has been the largest contributor to public television to instructional television. We are necessarily the big banker in the eyes of the people working in the field. That puts us in a very difficult position. We are not subject to political feelings or to political pressures in the degree that men in political life honor and we have been joined by our trustees as administrators from interfering in
any way with the programs which are funded by our grant. But the fact is nevertheless that that we are too big. Compared to the total size of what goes into television and I fully agree with Mr friendly that down the road there ought not to be any single private force with that larger role. That's of course again one of the reasons for our beliefs. There is a special opportunity in the satellite because there you would generate the funds essentially from a great technological development which has been financed by the American people. You would not generate them from the decision of any private group however well-disposed are virtuous and naturally we're inclined to think we're both at the Ford Foundation. In regard to that. The present time is most your money going to instructional television your public. Function and a grand instructional television most that Heikki it's hard to divide it really
because a great deal of our money goes into the local stations and the local stations in a majority have double functions. Actually I think that the larger part overall currently goes to public television simply because our largest single Grant is the six million dollars a year that we have been giving in recent years to any National Education Television Center which is currently the only national programming center. Well this is what I was coming to the actually who is going to really finance. I understand that but who is going to finance anything. It's a quick run. Who's going to finance this. The big. Operation of programming who is going to do that. If you move that in other words as I understand what you're saying and you want to move out of the. In the in the proportions in which you're in at the present time is that right. That's right in the long run let me hasten to say that we recognise our board of trustees recognizes that this is a period of transition for
educational television public television or instructional television they have no disposition to cut and run. Before the show is on the road but down the road yes. Now the same thing is true then also outstayed participation at the minimum to. Date participation varies by states in some states. The one I happen to know about is my new state New York it's increasing rapidly at the moment. But state participation has. Not been what I believe it will become. The instructional side on instructional side but rather than on the public or on the instructor have been on the public I have a guess right now. Do you have any proportional. Participation which you anticipate will come for example from private sources from state sources. As distinguished from. Really what amounts to substance some type of government source. I think the. Difficulty in predicting there is very great.
I do think that the record. Educational Television as a whole. Over the last. 15 years. Demonstrates the nonfederal sources are just not forthcoming. I mean order of magnitude that I think that's a fair conclusion and something is going to have to be done other than what's being done to present time if you're going to stimulate stimulate any type of federal sources and that is you're going to have to have something come with a real vitalizing of fact upon that section and in order to bring that type of money into it. I myself would have to go one step further I think Senator Harkin say that I do not know. Of any. Way. That will generate anything like. The kind of money that the whole system will need from the private side and I even doubt. That there will be. A large
increase as some of the those studying this problem appear to hope in private and local contributions. I don't foresee that yet I quite agree with you and I think that puts it right back squarely as to the source the revenue is coming from some type of federal operation including Comsat. Without a satellite. Now on a satellite I've gone through this before but just the way we can do better than we do. Where as talk of. The point remains what you have here is a technological breakthrough is that correct. That's right and as a result of a technological breakthrough there has been a great reduction in cost of transmission. Or will be will be will be as right and this reduction is even greater than was originally anticipated is going to be greater. Literally nobody is more pessimistic than they were a year ago it's the other way around. That's right and there are going to come into a great bonanza money. And what. Mr friend and yourself are saying really is this news. A new gold
mine in the sky. Is available to be utilized before we put it into the general trade. Let the distributed and reduced rates to the commercial station. That's what you're saying is hold the rates where they are in the absence. Take the difference. After all they're operating now on the bases and making a profit on the bases of the present cost. Take the the difference between the two and put that into a special fund directed toward. The thing called Public Television and instructional television. Is it your intention to provide just simply the NPR. Programming and. Their connections as distinguished from the hardware. Are. How would you place it. How would you utilize this fun. In the three broad sections which involve that is construction operation and programming. I don't want to try to define that because too sharply because it seems to me
that we are now in the area where the. Corporation for Public Television ought to have reasonable discretion as to how it estimates where the points of sensitivity are. Now I can quite understand a Friendly's view from his experience at Public Affairs broadcasting the very sensitive business. And as long as he has anything to do with it it will be that way and that there will be a need to instill it. There are other things that can create shocks. The largest single thing that this corporation needs is a sense of its own independence and integrity and my own preliminary judgment would be that the private money ought to be at the general disposition of the corporation and that the corporation will indeed usually feel that the part that needs the most protection is programming and that within programming the most sensitive area as a rule is the area of public and contemporary affairs but I wouldn't earmark it in such a way that it could only be used for that.
Let me ask you this is it you or do you have a point of departure from the Carnegie with a statement he has basically made that Dr. Killian this morning in regard to the continuation. The grants made by you. Know I don't feel it as a sharp point of difference there my own. Feeling is that the bill is right in making it possible for the Corporation for Public Television to make grants for costs of operation make payments for costs of operation when that's necessary I also agree with the view that many have expressed that Mr friendly has just repeated that its. Facilities are not as sensitive and probably the salaries of Engineers are not as sensitive as the salaries of broadcasters. I see no great pain in having to channel 1 through AGW and Ron in cases where it may be appropriate to have the corporation free to use its money for that purpose I think that the
corporation will feel a very heavy pressure to protect its resources for programming simply because programming first class programming is very expensive. Now programming is very expensive then in view of the fact you're making a substantial contribution to anything at the present time. Do you feel that the programming is going to have to be in greater depth and greater. Really a great deal more attention being given to programming than is being presently given and even on a limited number of stations that are appearing. Oh yes Senator Harkey that's an important point. Any tea currently produces 5 hours a week of new programming that isn't very much. Carnegie Commission recommends 10 hours a week of new programming. I would say that's a minimum and that down through time we will see a demand and insist and an insatiable demand for a larger level of new programming than that on a national regional our varied basis.
This is really nothing different than the commercial stations having their own difficulty in programming at an individual station just does not have the financial resources to provide the type of program which even they would like to present on their own station therefore they resort to what's available not use the network programming in that route. I don't know why I would have to say Senator. Again for myself. But the problem of independent. And connected television stations is not one of lack of money. I think there is sufficient money the licensees have been very well rewarded through the years they make it in those programs with a program themselves. They get a very good return on their investment in that which they get from the network they get a good return. I think that it is a very involved commercial. System that makes networking the way it is. I think the problem is the commercial television. I've said this before forgive me again. It makes.
So much money doing its worst. That it can afford to do its best. Senator Harkin my own judgment is that it's better to go ahead with this first step. I am confident on the basis of the response and understanding that has been shown to the position developed both by ourselves in the Carnegie Commission and by many others that there will be found a way that will command general support for active support in the Congress for a dedicated tax. Let me put a satellite to one side for the moment because it's a special case we think especially valuable one but it really weighs in in terms of the system as a whole on the private side in terms of the kind of money it would be for the corporation when the corporation is in business. I believe that we can find a national agreement on a kind of dedicated tax I don't think we need to wait to get started.
While that process of analysis and discussion is worked through and while the president and the administration and leaders in the Congress are reaching a conclusion upon which a firm executive recommendation and then I legislate of course can be developed. But I do think it's important and if the committee shares this view I would think it would be very valuable for this committee at this stage. When it comes to report this bill if it does to make clear that a dedicated tax is in the long run a necessary part of the system. Why wouldn't it be denying the president the latitude that he needs his chief executive to study this. I don't you don't you think that this would be more or less a rebuke to the president's message. And also I have asked the Congress to give him one year. To make a proposal in this regard. Either way the fact that we write it in the report is binding on no one. I think it might have an irritating affected might do this bill
more harm than it will do it good. I'll attempt here to write anything about dedicated tax. Or try at this venture to write in a dedicated tax we will be we will be usurping the jurisdiction of another committee. Taxes have to originate in the house. They have to go before the Ways and Means Committee. I mean we would do this bill a Republican gentleman. I mean you come here and you tell us you're all for the bill and now we begin to invent a lot of schemes to kill it. That's certainly not the intention Mr. Chairman I think we've got to be pretty careful about what we suggest. Let me say he has no authority when it comes to taxation. Whether or not you're going to have a excise tax on television sets we're dedicated on not will have to originate in the house. It will have to go before the Ways and Means Committee and then it will have to go before the Senate Finance Committee which our distinguished colleague from Indiana is a
member and I would hope that they would look into this matter. But I think as we have said before this is seed money to get the show on the road. All of us agree there's gotta be our freedom from India. Parents on the part of the government I think we all agree on that. I think much of that depends upon the caliber of the people who constitute this corporation. I don't care how good a law you write unless you have a good administrator a good honest man of integrity a woman of integrity to run it. It's just a facade. Therefore gentlemen I think that we ought to be a little cautious about the suggestions we're making here today that go beyond the jurisdiction of this committee. If we're going to hope to pass this bill Saturday you're entirely right. And I didn't mean and I certainly it it was not my intention to suggest that this committee should take on the functions of analysis and judgment of the Appropriations Committee. What about the way the Finance Committee or Senate or other and I mean it in
all ways and means I entirely agree with that. I think it is within the purview of this committee and you will correct me if I'm wrong to. Take note of the very great importance of finding ways and means of financing this enterprise which are insulated from the pressures which would be particularly dangerous to this kind of public operation with that. And that's all I'm trying to say. I will say for myself that I think that implies that in the end you will need some kind of the Congress will need to find a means of financing of which the most promising I have heard obvious some form of dedicated tax but I quite understand that decisions on that. And you're right to emphasize the point or not within the review of this committee area of policy. It's bigger than even this bill. And that's not within the purview of
this committee. And I don't think we ought to encroach your impinge upon the jurisdiction of another committee. Unless we expect at this point to confuse the issue. You're probably right. Comments as to what we have learned and what you heard. I don't care to hang around without paying and I report. To the president that we have heard math and taxation and some. Of the pros and certain pros and cons to each guy and. I mean I. I want to be courteous to the president but I don't have any have taken about disagreeing with him. You know my name you know I think that the committee would be afraid to come to its own. Tentative conclusions Mr. Cameron could make of that. The only trouble you could cultivate Graco develop it unless we invited the
manufacturers to come in the consumer leagues to come in. I mean we're going far afield far afield. Now we're talking here with a segment of our society that's very much interested in the development of educational television and all of us understand it's a big question of money. Now we're saying to that individual who's going to buy a television set. You're the one who ought to pay for it. That individuals have to come in here and I'm not saying that I'm against an excise tax but that individuals have to come in here which I have no use for Educational Television. Why do you put this responsibility on my back. Then you're going to have the manufacturers in the rubble some of them are already addressed themselves. Really they're going to say well this is a discriminatory attack now. All this has to be developed only to write it in the report. What we should say in the report is that all of us agree that our problem is money. That the more public money you put into there is the more you wouldn't danger. The freedom
of expression for that reason we would hope we would hope that in the process and in the development the private sector of our society would become a little more generous and that sound system would be decided upon. That will guarantee this freedom from interference. Now that's about as far as we can go. And it says buyers were going to go I hope and as a matter of fact I don't think we have to belabor that too much because I think it will be a rather eloquent on that point. But isn't this Mr. Friendly at the heart of what you're talking about again. And that is the fact that you do not want a public television. System. Where the programming. Is. Coming out of funds which are appropriate by the Congress and specifically in regard to news events and I into that kind. And isn't this. Equivalent. As I said yesterday. To an
agency of the government preparing textbooks and distributing them. In that the same basic approach only the difference is instead of a book you're sending out programs. Well I think there is a difference Senator between making funds available for education and our government does through various methods now wait a minute and nothing in the printing business. I quite agree with that but what I'm saying that if the Congress would appropriate for the department of health education welfare whereby they could print textbooks and send them out to the school system. Free of charge. To use or not use as they choose it would be an identical parallel. Isn't that true. Well I'd I suppose I'd want to think about the word identical but I certainly am saying and I'd be glad to say it a thousand times is that I am against. And I hope we all are. Federal money. From general revenues going into News and Public Affairs broadcasting. That's what I mean and that's what I'm here to say.
And I it's part of my very being you have all right I understand now what I'm asking you is that the nine million dollar which is seed money. Yes if it's only found out by subsequent appropriation you'd be opposed. I certainly would and I can underline the word only place crime if it's only followed up you said by similar appropriations I'd be against it. Well what if it were were followed up and a system is another word similar to the bill which is before us in other words at the next general appropriation the big part of the money instead of coming out of a dedicated because we have agreed that the private sources are not going to make a substantial donation local sources are not going to. And hopefully the states will make more than they're doing now. But. I thought we already agreed that some type of money from the federal stores is going to be the principal source of financing a principal source. A principle source. All I'm saying to you is you still would be opposed to it if the subsequent follow up is a substantial increase in the amount in the federal government in a general
appropriate time. Yes or. And if that would be the follow up to the system then you would feel that that this was a wrong road. If the if it cost two hundred seventy five million dollars a year to run public which is the Carnegie figure I would be against that. And I'm speaking only for myself a lot of hope Mr. Bundy would agree that I would be against taking 275 million dollars out of the treasury of the United States and paying that for public television I think we would have then was a license to fail. For that. And that's exactly what I thought you thought. And I'm glad to hear you say what I thought was right your mistake. And I don't think that's going to happen. I don't think it's ever going to happen. And. I think the people of responsibility both need ministration in the Congress and in the private sector. On. A conscious of the responsibility and I think that they know pretty much the sensitivity of what can be done to twist man's
mind and we want to keep man's mind free. And all of us agree I think it. It would refresh and comfort the Congress of the United States very much if we could do the job without putting up a nickel. As to public television programming what you do. When you're not doing it for money for issues related to me. A proper standard of Harrison with programs for profit. And not necessary to read read your Public Enemy the BBC and the national television competition. BBC maybe worse maybe better. But the public television is worse. Public opinion will demand to be better and that. Television for profit be better. Fabrication of a standard of comparison that does not now exist. Is as I understand it one of the reasons for your being here. And I would
conclude with a thought that I hope. The right your discovery will be a beneficial to the NBA and as a gesture this back. Why do we leave the Greeks out. Conceivably. I think the benchmark for the fact that you do have public television and. Commercial television side by side the people in commercial television are very proud dedicated people who will care how they compare. I think they want this competition. I think some of the most. Dedicated a lot of the about bringing this into being has come from the commercial broadcasters and I think that the healthy competition in England which you mentioned has been most beneficial. Well I think there was established a historical. Assurance. That we
better be pretty careful. In insulating. This whole mechanism in my. Proposal. So that as I've said before there will be no interference by anyone. Especially those in positions of power. Right now I don't want to imply what you refer to in your statement but try to not let this. That you do not get the money from the satellite. And for the moment let's assume that you cannot successfully pad excise tax and Congress on the television receivers. Which would leave the. Next year after the 9 million a few which probably will be appropriate this year. With a new weapon operation where you either went to the general prime. Or are. You called rep. Well I'm in such a case. What would you recommend. Well if it were only to come from federal funds and
I were young enough to still be a practitioner I would want no part of the news and public affairs part and I nobody speaks for anybody in this but I think a great many people who have my background feel the same way. But if the satellite were not were not available and it is my fondest hope and prayer that it will be available and I know it is others and if the excise tax which the Carnegie people put such faith in is not available. There are other ways in the Carnegie report. There was I guess you'd call it the McConnell reservation in which he asked for an exploration of ride the licensees who have been given this great majestic might not pay some kind of rent for that. For they have licenses that's been suggested before. I rather I know it's not for you now but what I'm trying to say rather clumsily is that the satellite and the excise tax is not the only way and that the tax on general funds is not the only way and that there are other ways in that I would rather suspect that a combination of
all of them in the wisdom of the Congress and this committee might be a road to go down. I commented that Senator Harkin say that we feel very strongly and I take it this is also the position of the Carnegie Commission. We don't want a public television corporation without some form of protected revenues. We believe that that will mean a need for a dedicated tax. I myself would I would hope very much that this record could show and that the eventual legislative record in the Congress would show that this is a first step which cannot fulfill its promise unless the second step is taken and that second step does imply a dedicated tax and we hope satellite revenue too. It's my own opinion that if you do not write into this legislation at this time the
second step that you're going to take at the second step next year will be an appropriation of a larger amount. Than the 9 million. Now it's my own personal opinion I think that the only course of action because that is that the Congress will probably because I do not see that type of drive. I know that you people are right but I do not feel the type of drive which is going to insist on a new tact of that nature. I may be wrong. And. I'll send out a federal aid like brand represents a technical problem. Involving. That. And investment that those stockholders and they didn't do that. Which might present and might even be challenged legally. Well I think what I really thing is to you is that is would it be better if we're going to write this law now to try to write that second step into it as well as we can. At this moment. Rather than to wait and have something which in a year now that you know people would
say that it did not had public television and that was United States senator Vance Hartke of Indiana a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on communications one of many members directing questions and statements to representatives of the Ford Foundation as the subcommittee investigated the proposed public television Act of 1967. Representatives of the Ford Foundation included the honorable Mike George Bundy president of the foundation and friend and friendly now Ford Foundation advisor former president of CBS. This special report on the Senate hearings on public broadcasting has been produced by national educational radio through the facilities of WMUR American University Radio in Washington D.C. This is national educational radio public affairs director Bill Greenwood inviting you to join us tomorrow for part four of this five part series. Tomorrow we feature
- Ford Foundation, part two
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- This program, the second of two parts, presents Fred Friendly, former president of CBS News, now advisor to the Ford Foundation.
- Senate Hearings on Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, held during April 1967.
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