National Association of Educational Broadcasters Convention; E. William Henry - Reel 1 of 2
President Harley may have members of the NE be distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen I want to thank you Bill for that fine introduction I'm glad you had a chance to use it again. I thought for a moment you were going to introduce me as the newest dope. I believe you meant something else. I'm also delighted to be with you on the occasion of your thirty ninth annual convention. And I want to add my congratulations to the many that I know you've received in the spirit that you are evidencing by such a large and wonderful attendance. And I appreciate very much so many of you staying over to see me. I'm sorry that I couldn't be with you earlier this evening for your reception. Two of the three children that I have that Mr. Harley mentioned I had the 24 hour virus and I think maybe I'm in my third hour at the moment but I'm picking up one toast pop it's wonderful. You know I mean I've been pleading in practically every speech that I made to commercial broadcasters for more controversial programs. So I would
suggest to NBC that they try that one out of the network and see how I react. It will and I want to see those property years afterwards I want to settle an argument that I had with Dick. He insisted that BB sign off wrote the script and maintaining it isn't true. I note with interest that your group was organized several years before the Federal Radio commission in one thousand twenty seven but certainly speaks well of the foresight of our educators. Those educators were among the broadcast pioneers who recognized in the early crystal set days the great potential of the broadcast media as an arm of education. And while most of my remarks this evening will be about educational television we must recognize that much of the basic spadework on which we rely today took place in radio through the years it is performed a vital and important function and it is recently displayed renewed energy and promise. Last week I was
interviewed over long distance telephone by the members of the Adult Education Association meeting in Miami. As I told them I regret very much not being able to meet more frequently with educational groups and so when the opportunity does arise it's indeed a most pleasant occasion. But we have many common interests and I think it behooves all of us to get to know each other better. I think too it helps to meet face to face person to person. Listen to the nuances and the inflections in the voice and sometimes you come away with even a little different impression than if you had read the exact same speech. I think the story that most illustrates that particular point is a story about a first grade teacher who at recess told all her children to put their heads down on the desk and for five minutes and relax and think happy thoughts.
So they they did and she came around about five minutes later to check on him and she went over to Mary and she said Mary are you thinking happy thoughts. And I said oh yes teacher I am and teacher said what are you thinking. And Mary was all of six years all said I'm thinking I'm pregnant again. And the teacher said my goodness is that a happy thought. I said it certainly is. Just this morning mother came down to breakfast and said I think I'm pregnant again. And then he said that's a happy thought. And. That. That however is not taken from experience. I was also very forcefully reminded of the need to get to know people better. When I was out in Omaha Nebraska back in January when it never got above seven degrees below zero either in or out of the hearing room.
One and one witness before he began his statement told me that to the local people in Omaha I resembled a cross between a tiger and a parakeet. Nobody knew what to call me when I talked. They listen now to some commercial broadcasters around the country I have the impression that the reverse may be true. My pleas and suggestions for improvement often get a cold reception but these broadcasters know exactly what to call me. Now to the educational broadcasters I hope neither is true and that through our relationship as representatives of government and the television and radio medium we will continue to link ons for mutual support. A good many years ago James Russell Lowell said it was in making education not only common to all but in some sense compulsory on all that the destiny of the Free Republics of America was practically settled.
Now Educational Television is not yet common to all and is certainly not compulsory. But it is in the spirit of Lowell's a sweeping vision of education in a free society that I would discuss educational television with you tonight in the course of my remarks I will try to do three things to evaluate where we stand today to identify some of the special problems which you face and subjects and methods by which you might overcome them and to consider some of the broader implications of educational television and what its role should be. By way of introduction I would like to quote very briefly from a book I imagine most of you read it's that people look at television by Messis Ramlila and the soul of it. But in a very few succinct phrases they capture the image and objectives of this relatively new medium at it as it has been devoted to educational purposes. They said Educational Television is something of a paradox. Part of the greatest sales medium ever developed. It sells enough part of a medium with
an equal ability to attract people to it. Programmes for minority audiences. Part of a highly expensive medium which needs the support of more than a billion dollars of advertising money annually it gets no advertising support and exists on Spartan budgets and a rickety financial structure of gifts and school money. Part of a great entertainment medium and invites its audience to come not for entertainment but rather for work. It invites them not to relax but rather to stretch their minds in order to capture new ideas and information. Now despite all these apparent roadblocks Educational Television is certainly everyone in this room recognize has come a long way since its far station if you HD and you see doctors watch while I mean that Mr.. I agree with any teacher Jack White that in a brief decade Educational Television has become a major force in the educational and cultural development of millions of people across the United States. Last September as Mr. Holly and I indicated to you in his opening remarks we both had a
privilege of participating in the dedication ceremonies at W H Y Y TV in Wilmington Delaware and Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Due to some technical problems I didn't speak until about 11:15 that night and mediately following a program by David Cecka and I'm sure it was probably the first and last time that I'll ever have to be the Late Late Show. But on that occasion I noted that the lighting up of that station marked a special milestone because it was the ATF educational station to go on the air. At the past two months since then and witnessed the birth of three more stations most recent of these is is in Greenville South Carolina which is one of several planned in that state to supplement its extensive closed circuit service. Even so signs indicate that we are just on the threshold. There is a very real probability that 964 will see the construction of at least 50 more television stations with perhaps half of them on the air by the opening of school next fall. The next three years may well see the development of possibly one hundred fifty new stations.
Also as you know there are currently three hundred fifty channels reserved for Educational Television which 109 are in the VHF feet under our new proposed table of allocations over three hundred fifty additional UHF channels would be added bringing the total to slightly above 700. In this table some 40 cities are designated for two channels one of which of course is Milwaukee. In this connection we are very much aware of your stated need for twelve hundred temples. We are also particularly grateful for the any recently completed comprehensive allocation study which I understand you had seen incidentally and from the computer and you may be assured that both your needs and your proposal for meeting them will receive our most serious consideration. We were I say we I think I'm still correct after that skit. I have pleased to learn of the recent six million dollar grant from to any T from the Ford Foundation
and I was pleased certainly and I think most of us were over the announcement of the appointment of former channel chairman Minow board of directors. I congratulate Jack White and his group for both acquisitions for both acquisitions should give educational television a tremendous boost. The funds are to be used in 1964 as I understand it to expand any programming efforts generally particularly in the areas of public affairs and cultural programming. Nor should we overlook and certainly I should find support that educational television is received it is daily receiving from the networks and local commercial stations. This is done in the form of furnishing programs and substantial cash contributions. I think much of that has been done across the country I understand some has been done right here in Milwaukee. In addition Channel 13 in New York was a recipient of over one and a half million dollars and more recently the applicant for Channel 28 in Los Angeles has to date received seven hundred fifty thousand dollars.
And I think far sighted commercial broadcasters recognize that any improvement in Educational Television improves the entire medium and the competition from this source is particularly beneficial. I can't leave this general description without referring to your Cinderella sister service. Sometimes less glamorous. She has many moments of real brilliance. I refer of course to educational radio and it's currently operating two hundred sixty one stations. And lest you think this sister service fit only for kitchen duty let me say that we are presently authorizing new educational radio stations at the rate of Betty better than one per month. It remains and will remain a vital force for example the idea of an FM network. I understand and am network OSS always in the end and even without such a network educational radio is the only source of ready regularly scheduled educational programmes on which a tremendous nationwide audience has come to depend. And it was the radio group sparked by commission is free there Hanna Rozell Hyde and Paul Walker
who saw the wisdom of reserving television channels for educational purposes. And I think then is now. It was a time when wisdom was most needed. I think it it's certainly at this day well beyond dispute that the use of broadcast facilities by noncommercial groups for cultural and educational advancement has found a solid and warm reception and is here to stay. To quote again from the people look at educational television the TV as one of the ten. But does it rest with this or does it go ahead. Perhaps you've heard the story about the traveller newly arrived in the District of Columbia. He was in a taxi cab and as it passed the National Archives building he noticed the inscription on the facade of the building what is past is prologue and when he asked the driver what that meant the driver replied spiritedly Mister That means you ain't seen nothing yet.
I think educational television might well adopt that motto for it's far too early in its history for us to rest content in a mood of self-congratulation. The existence of the e TV in some form is assured but its fundamental character and destiny are not. So let us examine for a moment the question of what we want educational television to do and more important what we want it to be. Now why did the commission originally decide to reserve channels for Educational Television and why is it now proposing to expand those reservations so substantially. It was in 1951 and insistent demand for competitive commercial television facilities particularly in the larger communities. Proponents of more commercial allocations argued that educational needs could be met by microwave relay and wired circuit systems for in-school instructional programmes. But the commission recognised that this was too limited and objected that even though pressures
frequencies might have to be reserved for years before educational efforts truly got underway that there was a vital need for broadcast facilities to provide for adult education in the home. After school programming for children programs that serve the broad cultural and Public Affairs interests of the community these were and are in the final analysis the considerations that justify each use of broadcasting frequencies. I think in a number of respects educational television is making the contributions which the commission originally sought to take a single example the Brandeis University report one week at the T.D. Number two which surveys sixty two educational stations as of March 962 discloses that some 80 percent of the average day of such stations is devoted to leisure time programming for children. This is a strikingly important contribution to the medium of television as a whole and I think it's only one example of a great number of contributions that he is making to the medium as a as a
whole. And as I said earlier when you make a contribution it raises the level of the entire media. One of the things is a matter of fact the troubles people most about television is the kind of programs it makes available to children. Much has been said about the responsibility of parents to control their children's viewing habits. Not enough has been said in my judgment about the obligation of the medium to give parents some help. To provide them with something more than a choice between cartoons and late afternoon Weston or the early evening blood and thunder movie in those communities fortunate enough to enjoy an educational outlet. Parents should have a real choice. And as a parent I cannot stress too much the significance of this service. I think the networks and some of the local stations recognize this need perhaps now than more than they did. I think tonight's demonstration is one example of it. But the question for Educational Television is whether broadcast service of the
non-instructional kind will continue to grow and expand. Most new TV applications are oriented to the needs of primary schools and understandably so. Where they come mainly from state boards of education all local school districts. Moreover whatever the exact nature of the applicant the great bulk of the financial support for the application is now before the commission comes from the same school oriented source. I understand you have discussed this same problem in some some of your meetings and I imagine I'm not telling you anything new in that most of you agree with me but I do think it's important for myself as chairman of the government agency which licenses and regulates the medium to give you my thoughts even though they might be the same as some of the thoughts that you already have. And let me hasten to say that we welcome all of our applications certainly including the ones that we are now getting from the school oriented institutions. And moreover I would by no means underestimate the importance of purely instructional television.
Certainly the nation's strength and productivity depend as much upon the education of its human resources as on the development of its physical resources. And instructional television has many problems and many challenges but I think despite these and as important as they may be they cannot comprise the sum total of your responsibility. Each of these use of broadcasting frequencies requires something more. The commission has as I'm sure you're aware recently set aside the twenty five hundred twenty six nineteen mega cycle band for multiple channel point to point educational systems and those who seek to provide only in-school service can utilize that band. So while we recognize it in the beginning some broadcast stations with limited resources may serve primarily for in-school instruction. We do expect such stations to expand and to broaden their programming as they mature and as they establish themselves in the community. Because you are not merely operators of film projectors or closed circuit
facilities and nor are you teachers only you are broadcasters and you are licensed to serve certain local needs of your community interests that are narrow in a sense and those served by commercial outlets but also broader than the institutional needs of your community school systems. Jack Gould who is the television critic for The New York Times in an article that was discussing one of the problems of Channel 13 recently put it this way. Cultural TV should be a fountain head of experimentation in all the arts and of bold ideas both offer the choice of evening hours when nothing of their kind is found with any sustained regularity on the commercial channels. Now no one would want to do without the light and passive diversion that is the prime staple of commercial TV. What is wanted at the same time is an alternative that makes no bones about catering to more to a more discriminating intelligence.
There's been considerable question concerning the nature of this broader role we expect of our educational stations in some of my discussions with educators I'm frequently asked such questions as these are we free to present discussions on controversial issues of importance in our community. Can we interview and otherwise deal with political candidates. And if so what are the guide posts. May we compete with commercial television for a larger share of the viewing or viewing audience in prime time. Now these are all fair questions and I think they deserve frank answers because the answers will help to define the true role of an educational station which is striving to serve its community responsibly and effectively. They also point up a need for thought on the part of the commission. For during the past 10 years the commission has granted applications filed by educators largely on a showing a financial ability and community support. As long as the program proposals of these applicants seemed to provide a reasonable minimal
service we were satisfied. I think this policy worked well and if the educational stations now licensed are doing an excellent job. But with the substantial growth in both the number of channels available and the applicants seeking licenses the time has come I believe for the commission to set forth his policies more specific. I say this not in criticism of the past but what I think are the best interests of the future and most surely we would welcome any suggestions you might have to aid us in the formulation of a more specific policy. I might add at this point that I think we would welcome your suggestions your aid your support if you would like to give it on any matter. That is pending before the Federal Communications Commission. If you think that it's relevant and proper for you to comment on it. Not only would I suggest that you comment as members of any and sometimes I know you might feel that membership as individuals and any
would preclude your coming to the commission. But you live in. Many of you at least live in academic circles or academic communities and I think there is a great wealth of untapped opinion in these communities concerning television in general and its role as a social force. And who probably have some very specific ideas on what we want what we're doing at the FCC I think and I would appreciate if when you go back to your communities and you engage in discussions with these people you would make this thought of mine known because we would welcome their comments. Well when we discuss the role of educational television I for one believe that you should use your voice to participate in civic matters to their positions on issues of public importance and to provide programs for that large audience whose tastes are not always met by commercial outlooks. The TV has a certain
viewpoint certain resources and a certain institutional framework which can if properly directed make it an invaluable counterpart to commercial television. And I know that there are many instances of local or local programming on matters of importance to the community that many of you have done and many that you are planning to do and many that you will think of in the future. I think it is television and particularly educational television which doesn't have some of the restrictions or practical restrictions on it that commercial programming does. He's free to do a great deal of this and most effective. And in this same light the station could bring coverage for example to political campaigns as a forum through which the community could hear the positions of the candidates on major issues and thus cant a more responsible vote in some a noncommercial station is only doing what it should when its facilities are used to
explore and to discuss issues of public interest. And last year the Internal Revenue Service made it clear that so long as you are fair and take no partisan positions yourselves programming of this kind will not disturb your status under the federal tax laws. And I offer these considerations to you not so much is fixed policy. But its possible suggestions for future action such policy questions have not been finally decided. The FCC but they do rise nearer and nearer the surface as we grant each new educational television license. The commission has its hands full at the moment but I would hope that we will soon give serious study to the formulation of programme policy for educational stations in the same manner that we have a programme policy for commercial stations and who knows we might even come up with a new name for such licensees. But you are more than educated as I have said you are broadcasters. You must serve your community and I for one think your
title should be broader than it is now. In order to reflect your broader responsibilities. And one thought I would emphasize there is no rule of government that says an educational television has to be done or that you cannot exercise wide discretion in the selection of programs. It can and should be stimulating and interesting. It can and should compete at least part of the time for the larger audience. History can be as exciting as fiction. Real operas can compete with the soap or the hospital. And music movies of the great classics are surely compelling in Spelman. Even if they do have educational values as well. And as far as I'm concerned you can even use Gina Lollobrigida to fill up your screen. Build up your audience and give you a good lead. Of lightly. It was in a
recent commentary on the new fall commercial schedule. Time magazine had this to say and I quote. The most sensible standards of TV criticism rate television as a comfortable popular culture capable of rare accidents of quality but never expected to be anything more than a relaxing distraction. By those standards the new season is more relaxing than distracted unquote. Now that may be the standard of Time magazine but I don't think it should be your disposition substitutes apart from the whole. And it undermines the basis of our extensive allocation of television channels and expletives news education. Controversial issue programming and any consistent pattern. Of high quality entertainment if the medium were to accept this standard it would forever claw it with mediocrity instead of nourish with a riot.
And even for commercial television it isn't satisfactory as a goal much less as an ideal. So let us have the bland programming that delights and relaxes by all means. But let's also have the symphonies the classics and the great documentaries. For the viewing public is entitled to alternatives and competition such as this cannot help but to elevate the standards of all television. During a recent visit to the United States the President of India. I get the. Across my desk and present these statements. A lot of different people and I noticed this. The President of India when he was last in the United States began a toast to President Kennedy by saying we cannot always control events but we can always control our attitude towards them. Now this is a simple truth but I think its powerful in its simplicity. So I
would remind you that while television cannot always control of events it can play a vital role in shaping our attitude toward. Each as a full partner in this magnificent medium. It should therefore exercise its full influence by recognising its responsibilities and acting accordingly. It is an effort in which I gladly join and I pledge you my full support. Thank you all very much Will.
- E. William Henry - Reel 1 of 2
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