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And every enterprise can be handled in this way doesn't it. This is not something just across lies to profit making enterprises. This is what we're now doing in government with program planning and budgeting. And it's what the Soviet Union does with much of its economic activity. What the Ford Foundation essentially has to do in allocating its quota. Let's talk about what some of these purposes might be. To the extent you are trying to provide for an artist an opportunity to reach an audience or you're trying to provide for students experience in broadcasting you can do that without regard to the audience. You know at the have really that much of an audience to do it. And there are ways in which you can measure how well you're doing that you could presumably design some kind of test to give to students. You could presumably devise some way for following the career of an artist who's been given
an opportunity to expose his talents on education radio or television. What if what you're trying to do is not only provide a stage for the artist but you're also trying to provide experience for the audience. Then obviously the audience becomes immediately quite relevant and you really are back in the cost per thousand turners. That is not to say that you want to get the largest possible audience in terms of numbers that you're in the numbers game or in the mass market appeal business. It used to say that whoever it is you're trying to reach however small it's like that of society that may be must be identifiable. Must be countable and that you want to reach as many of them. As you can. And that the more of them you reach the more successful you have then. To
the extent that a part of what you're trying to do is reach those people and so that brings you immediately to a consideration of the allocation of resources which we in programming in for motion. If you've got two hundred thousand dollars to spend on a show and pick a song that is much greater than the annual budgets of many of the radio stations but you've got $2000 to spin on a national educational television program you spend it all on programming and you get an audience of 100000 people watching. And it's a generally it's a mass appeal pipe a cultural thing. You have not done as well as if you'd spent one hundred thousand dollars on programming $100000 on newspaper ads or mailings or are we want to promote the show and ended up. With an audience of 500000 or a million
and you have to. Then begin to think about this allocation between programming and promotion and somewhere there's an there's an optimum balance. To the extent your purpose is trying to reach an audience. However that audience may be defined for your particular program. And in this sense you also have to begin to think in terms of what the economists call opportunity cost. What did you not do as a result of putting on what you did put off. What were all the alternatives open to you when you selected the particular program you selected. What was the opportunity cost of selecting what you selected. What did you lose by selecting what you select and why were the benefits of what you. The benefits of what you selected greater than the benefits would have been for something else that you could have put on in that time slot. This raises another question that has has even less
basis in the literature at this point. All there. Daniel Bell and others are working on it. That's the concept of social indicators because it seems to me that much of what it is you're trying to do is not real is not just related to the number of people who listen to the show. It's related to what happens to those people. How are they different because they listen to the show. If you're trying to provide training in English to a Spanish language you have a section of town one way of measuring your success is to count the number of people listen to the program. Another way to measure your success is to give English examinations to the people who are watching the program and see if they're any better after they watch and they were before. Now you can think of other examples I'm sure if you put out programs on the drugs you can measure
or you can measure drug consumption. And if you happen to be putting out records that encourage marijuana smoking you can measure whether or not it increases or if you're putting out programs to try to discourage it you can measure whether or not a decrease. You could presumably measure not only the number of people who watch your Lorillard burb or by the little book but. How good they are playing the guitar. You know there are a lot of unread books in the in our loans and we don't know how many people are really really watching the show and really benefiting from it as a practical matter. We're out. Number consideration in in this in this general category. Is that you may want to think more about the matter of follow through. In general. The use of text. The use of examples the use of relating the program to some institution that the that the that the audiences is related to
some means of feedback. On the program. No one would. Suggest that it was educational. If you were to conduct a university in which professors were standing around to giving lectures students were free to move in and out of the classroom or calm or not as they as they chose. Their attendance was never recorded. No exams were ever given and no questions were asked by them and there was no text aside. And that is. The characterisations Apple seems to me to much of what we're now doing a radio and television. Now a third way of approaching this is ask a very fundamental question as to whether or not what we're really trying to do ought to be thought of in terms of the station or the program.
And so far almost everything we've done in educational broadcast has been premised on the assumption that what we're funding and what we're encouraging in the in the muffling that is that we're interested in is the station. And so we have the educational television facilities act and we reserve frequencies for educational radio and television stations in and so forth. You know what you're trying to do harbor is to provide a programming service to the audience. Don't you have to consider the alternative costs. Of different means available to you to do that. One way of doing it is true is to put up antenna towers and transmitters and studios and staff all equipment facilities that goes with running a nationwide system of radio and television stations called it education broadcasting. But that has a dollar cost associated with it and you can add up those figures and see what the total and
then you add to that what it is you're spending on programs and that the total cost of distributing this material to the audience that you are reaching and that can be figured again on a cost per thousand basis. An alternative that would be available would be either to accept the present system of charges or try to get some free or reduced rate principle applied and simply have the Ford Foundation go direct one of the commercial networks. So we want to buy some time we got a great show we want to put our. PBL on NBC. Because we think we'll reach more people at less cost per person reach. We will have a greater impact on commercial broadcasting. We will provide more people with an exposure to a new kind of programming than we will by putting all this money into this wholly duplicated system of station.
Another basic concept that's related is why we funneled through stations rather than through the all of them that user the program source. If for example you make a decision that you want to expose more people symphony orchestras and a television is a useful way to do this why do you give the money to the station to go out and get the symphony orchestra to put it on television. Why don't you wander the milton freidman analysis give the money to the symphony orchestra. And say Symphony Orchestra Here's more dollars. We commend to you the possibility of spending some of it on putting you on television in terms again of the cost per thousand that you incur in reaching the people who listen to symphonic music. And you could do this with basically everything in the in the cultural side and to some extent we do this in these strictly instructional television and radio where the school district as you were putting on program that's Marketplace economics at
work there presumably the local school district has decided that it's cheaper for them in terms of the of education purchased per dollar. To spend money with you than to spend that money on something else. Well you could do that with with other units. And that then brings you back. To a pilot project research and development kind of analysis in terms of your own budget so that you are using money you are being funded not to sustain programming for five or 10 years but to work with a local police department that wants to provide instruction and all that. The police station or a school district that wants to develop programming or symphony orchestra wants to try to reach more people for a year or two to try and see if it works. And the measure of whether it works is the marketplace. The measure of whether it works is whether the police chief is willing to take part of his project and
give it to you to use your office only to reach his people. One of those symphony orchestras willing to take its money and give it to you to to reach the people that you can help them reach and that you will be funded. Not a long term basis but on the short term pilot project basis to try to develop new uses of radio and television which was then be self-sustaining as a part of other people's budgets. Now another major area is the matter of technological alternatives to what it is you're doing and this is equally applicable to commercial broadcasting of course. One very basic question that's of special interest to people in radio verses. Is the concept of the Radio Television tradeoff with regard to a given programming idea. Television is a very very expensive. You know
depending upon the situation five to 10 times as expensive as what you're doing and you can you can outfit somebody with a portable tape recorder in the cinema in the streets to do an interview and a very small fraction of the cost of a camera crew and producer and cameras and video tape or film or whatnot to go wild things so that the Ford Foundation all across Gascon corporation there the budget ought to be very very rigorous. You know asking the television people why is it that what you're proposing with this particular program needs television needs the added cost of television. Why can't it be done on radio much cheaper and much better networking obviously as well as for every other facet of the operation. We have the FCC ask with regard to instructional use of over the air broadcasting. Is there any way you can use the twenty five hundred microwave or cable or some other way that
doesn't involve over the air transmission. That's a question like why you have to ask in terms of the particular audiences you're trying to reach especially with the kind of community service that the New York City station provides for example to government agencies cable television is coming along. Which offers greater diversity in alternative method of distribution for radio as well as for television which is something that hasn't really been considered as much as it might be. And then there's another phenomenon that I that I think I was the sort of the distribution centers trade off. With regard to the distribution of any product as the cost of the reproduction and whatever it is you're doing declines. What tends to happen is that you have more of the reproductions sold and gathered in homes and less need for distribution electronically or some other way.
Nears it as a cost of LP records comes down you have more records in the home and relatively less dependence upon radio as a source of music. Same with regard to tapes paperback books. When would the growth of the paperback business you have tend to have many more books in homes than you would have if our only source of books were hardback books and were seen in all facets of the of the artistic and information business is a tendency to decrease this reproduction cost. And this is something you're going to have to consider. I've always felt that the people in the film business missed a real bat in the 1920s and 30s by not having the imagination to conceive of a two or three hundred dollar investment in every home used for purposes of expose your to visual material. If they'd ever come up with a film projector the didn't have to be threaded. And I'm
quite serious but is that really what you want. Why you were in the classroom it's because the teacher don't want to cool around with the projector. And with a multibillion dollar industry you would have thought that they don't have the incentive to come up with a easily operable movie project but they've never done it but they are now tending. There are some other companies that are developing as you all know the film a car very much like the tape cartridge which makes it as easy or easier to slap an 8 millimeter film into a projector as it is now to put a record on the turntable. The swipe wise effect. From the standpoint of the guy doing the program not from a stand point person the station business you're committed to a particular technology but your user is not the Ford Foundation is not the bureau the budget is not. They're simply interested in getting information and they'll consider all turners distributing literature at the home holding seminars and conferences printed material. People calling
door to door. Long with radio and television. Well a couple other points I want to just touch on briefly and then I'll let you go on to more entertaining business. One of the obvious really very important issues it has to be addressed is the relative allocation between local production and national production. Big education in this country is up 50 to billion dollar a year business. Now you can allocate this dough in a lot of ways let's assume you've got 50 billion dollars to work with. You can take the amount of money that is going to be allocated to third grade mathematics and you can count up the number of bird grade mathematics to your third grades in the United States and divide that number into the amount of dollars you're going to spend on third grade mathematics and you
have that little pile of coins to every little teacher and tell her to go out and teach mathematics. Or you can take a proportion of that money and spend it on material that's going to be used nationally. And anybody in the programming business knows that you're going to get a higher quality product. If you spend more money. Everybody is a little squeezy a nationally originated material but bear in mind that we do this now for textbooks. We don't require every grade school teacher to write our own textbooks. We have national distributed text and many countries are quite successfully. Preparing more in the way of nationally distributed instructional materials as well and obviously the same principle applies to the entertainment and cultural programming too. This is not to say that one has to be preferred over the other it's only to say that there is somewhere an optimum allocation.
But that when you ask for a share of the pie to be allocated to your station you better have a good reason why the money ought to be spent that way rather than spent to improve the quality of something that's going to be nationally distributed. If it takes one hundred thousand dollars to do the radio show right it's better to give a hundred thousand dollars to one guy than to give $5000 to 20 guys and have 20 products none of which are very good. Our sex. You've got a whole bundle of questions with regard to source of funding. As I said So long as you're in the foundations and gifts business in the charity business Girl Scout cookie business you don't have too much problem. Just a matter that the soft headedness and warm heartedness of your donor wars when you start fooling around with massive national funding. Then you've got some you've got to be able to explain why you're going to the source you're going to. We tend to like
user fees in this country when we can come up with ways of doing that. We tend to be very cherry about the ways in which we use general tax revenue phones. And we tend to be somewhat hesitant to impose special taxes like the gasoline tax although again the economists would argue that that's at least a rough approximation of a user fee even though it's far from perfect by a large of people paying for the interstate highway system or people who buy gasoline which is at least a closer parallel to the people who use interstate highways and it would be if you charged every taxpayer for the program. When you get into public utility rate payers then you've got another set of issues and that's what's involved in the free or reduced cost of the inner connection to be provided by the TTC. The whole
telephone right business is of course full of subsidies and don't let anybody tell you this is the first one. The question is whether it's wise. And I will say on behalf of a much criticized demand by the establishment everywhere communications and educational broadcasting that I think you probably would not have made as much progress as you had if it were not a rather outspoken statement of what was going on. I personally think it is not serving its own self-interest. Forget about the public. I was a sharable are they tea to you which obviously I cannot. I want a brochure over suit against the officers were passing by what was a millions of dollars worth of beautiful publicity to get behind this congressional proposal at the beginning and really run with it instead of appearing in public in the posture of somebody who's trying to protest this thing and who's being dragged kicking and screaming to
do good works. But that's normal problem it's not the first time they've been caught an impostor in this town. One conclusion let me make brief reference to a recent trip of mine to Japan where one of the things that captivated my imagination my interest as much as anything was the NHK. The Japanese of them have gone to great lengths over the years to make everybody believe that all they are doing is just copying other people's ideas and they have now reached the point of virtually everybody believes us nobody pays much attention to him and the fact the matter is of course they do a great deal of the innovation and expansion on their own and I think we do we'd be much better off to go over there and see what they're doing and bring it back here than the other way around. And NHK is just one example of this principle. This is Japan's education broadcast
as a nationwide network. It's not just learning that world television networks and radio networks nationwide hundreds of stations. They now have a new studio complex. That is far superior to anything commercial networks in this country have even dreamed of little and actually possess at the present time a management information system and operation system run by computer with software that a leading computer company spokesman in this country went to see and came back characterizing as five years ahead of anything that any corporation possesses in this country least of all a broadcasting company. It's a it's a beautiful thing to watch them put on the evening news let me tell you and I've watched it done at all our commercial networks and there's nothing like watching the aged. There's one guy he doesn't even have to push the button. Just make sure that we go down at the right time.
They have by way of funding what would be as a proportion of GNP in this country. What is in actual dollars far in excess of anything that we've been talking about would be as a proportion of gross national product in this country to a billion dollars a year. And it's doing very nicely in gathering audiences in competition with very effective and successful commercial television which has available to it among other sources of programming that of the American networks. And they're getting annoyed. They're using television to help preserve what they believe to be the best of Japanese traditions. They're using it to educate their children. Something like 80 percent of the grade school classrooms I think are being fed by NHK
television every day. Programs work down in consultation with the local schools and with NHK personnel. They're helping to Saturn maintain and raise cultural standards in their country. They're providing over the air a high school education for tens of thousands of Japanese you get their high school training at home in the evenings by television. CORRESPONDENTS occasional exam and school kids who couldn't otherwise be in high school the equivalent of our dropout problem which they seem to with more imaginatively ineffectively. Well I don't know if the law. Will ever be able to. Reach such heady heights from those people who copy what we've done here in the United States. What. I'd like to think of that at least as a kind of a model that we might take a look at.
Try to evaluate ourselves as you are and my point is as I said at the beginning in order to do that in order to form this enterprise at the level of which we all feel intuitively it ought to be funded. You are simply more think true for yourself. And the kinds of questions that I was posing here this noon. Think up some more of your own. Begin to develop an economic rationale. For the kind of order of magnitude of funding that we all think would be in the public interest in this country. It's a great pleasure always to be with you and your great leader and my friend Bill Harley and all these friendly faces I wish you well in the rest of the conventional over here. And thank you for that. On a law
National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention highlights
Nicholas Johnson
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WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
American University (Washington, D.C.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3782. This prog.: Nicholas Johnson, Federal Communications Commission, on "The Financing of Educational Broadcasting." Introduced by John P. Witherspoon, general manager, KEBS-TV and FM, San Diego State College
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Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: American University (Washington, D.C.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-Sp.6-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:38
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Chicago: “National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention highlights; Nicholas Johnson,” 1968-12-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 6, 2021,
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APA: National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention highlights; Nicholas Johnson. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from