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We do continue to believe that the Ford Foundation that the use of television for instructional purposes is most important and potentially significant highly significant but we have to take account of this kind of assessment. Efforts made today says this observer have not come anywhere near expectations. It may be time therefore for instructional broadcasters to begin to face up to the fact of the fact. That they must go more for quality. A limited number of first class undertakings then for quantity a very large number of locally produced lives. The amount of duplication and therefore of mediocrity which goes on in instructional TV in this country is staggering. The majority of the instructional television service operations on the public television stations of the country could now obtain 90 percent
of the instructional television lesson material from the available national programme resources and could then devote as much as 10 times. The person our resources and budgets now available to them to the kind of instructional television which must be produced locally instructional television as a field. And of course with exceptions has not made an impact on the educational community of the nation as a whole because it is not yet significant and relevant as we have hoped that it would become. It will not reach this goal until the ideas and the demand for them are made by the creative curriculum. People in the instructional system of the community involved Up until a commitment is made not just community by community but much more generous to spend that kind of money on instructional lessons that one does on nighttime public television
programs. And there is little hope that this can happen as long as instructional television producers coordinators and others in the various stations and cities continue to feel that each situation is unique and remarkable and that each lesson simply must be produced at home. If the product that is made available on a wider scale even nationally is good enough. The schools will want to use it. To date the product has not made the grade in that sense. Well now without saying that that is our opinion. Because sweeping judgments of this sort need to be taken as challenges rather than as very addicts. We do believe. That the Ford Foundation that there is truth in the general notion. That the strength of instructional
television. Depends upon the level of cooperation. Making programmes is expensive making first class programmes is very expensive and that kind of high cost high quality product is only possible when there is a market that is wider than the individual school or in most school systems the individual school system. Now this is beginner stuff of course but it is fair to say I think is that. All of us concerned with this may have underestimated over the years the difficulty of moving from the pride and the local concern and in a sense the conservatism of the instructional process in individual areas to the kind of process by which those interests and the general interest in doing something very good together that could somehow be harmonized.
I find it pleasant to make this particular speech because in another context I have been greatly concerned with the need for decentralization of certain kinds of educational processes. This is one which needs a modicum of centralization if it is to realize its promise. The ways and means of doing this. We have all been working with for a long time. We had the Ford Foundation hope to continue to be concerned with this. We cannot play more than a marginal role. The grant makers are all in a hopeful occasions we are now considering a very thoughtful proposal from an APB itself which moves directly to this question. We must all be hopeful that interesting and important and constructive recommendations will come out of the study is proceeding in h e w under Title 3 of the Public Broadcasting Act. All I mean to do here is to say that in the
preoccupation and the concern which we have had I think necessarily in the context of events in the last few years with public broadcasting in the wider sense and with publicly directed programming we must not any of us forget the enormous promise. And the enormous distance we have still to go in the field of instructional broadcasting and especially instructional television. Now. In saying all of these things about what is going wrong or what needs to be done better. I am well aware of the fact that. There are similar things that could be done better and advice is needed and criticism is deserved for the things which a grant making agency which we are does. I think the point is really that we are reaching the stage in our existence where all of us need not only do we have growing confidence in each
other but growing candor with each other. A sharp eyed critic Gerald Johnson. Must've known about the Ford Foundation and public television when he said when a man is really important. The worst advisor he can have is a flatter the American citizen has had too many flatterers telling him what a great and glorious thing it is to be American but never mentioning how difficult and dangerous it is after the flatterer of the next worst advisor is the Senate. Now Langham that is apparent merit is all bosh and that his aspirations are forever impossible. It is perhaps. No coincidence that this youthful enterprise of public television does now need protection. And all its members and constituent elements all the people concerned with it need protection from both flattery.
And cynicism. As one of the benefactors of public broadcasting we would like to say to this great audience that we continue to believe in. But we also believe that the promise still runs considerably ahead of the performance. We believe there is no reason for cynicism. Public Television is no longer an arts and crafts bazaar. You have come a long way and as the tools at your disposal increase Surely your horizon must and will broaden. And what I would like to do in the last few minutes is talk about one or two of the areas in which as one citizen one can see those are the possibilities a broadening of those horizons as broadcasters. The man in public broadcasting can help
America through crises whose dimensions are becoming greater I think than any we have known. Since the Civil War. You can shout perhaps louder than anyone that free enterprise. Is for are all honest people and that abuses of free enterprise are not consistent with the purpose of such enterprise itself. That law and order applies as much to the corporation sheets or to a society which permits the unnecessary spread of lung cancer as it does to the rioter or to the pusher of dog or to the police force which engages in abuses. The challenge which you face in the arena of public affairs is at least equalled by parallel challenges in culture in the performing arts. The responsibility for programs of high quality indeed in
grand dance drama music has with a few exceptions been left to public broadcasting the one continuing place. That creative artists can have. As an outlet electronic outlet is with your stations. Unlike your colleagues in commercial television who believe so often that they cannot afford to fail. You in public broadcasting must be willing to fail. Some of the time. What is important I think then is that the public broadcasting community be ready to initiate and to perseverance in programs that aim to give meaning to these turbulent events of our time. Public broadcasting is a challenge to be critical of all institutions not excluding any
foundation and the assumptions underlying. Our contemporary society. It is a challenge to exercise that critical faculty responsibly in vital areas of public life including the political process itself. You need I think myself that public broadcasting over time can come to play. Almost a unique role in following the political process in keeping it under analysis on a continuing basis. Politics is not election campaigns alone. They are the climactic and the most visible moment of a long and complex process that never really stops. That is true at every level of national regional and community life. And there is indeed a certain distortion in the way in which large scale attention concentrates at this moment of election tends to
be low in between. Missing in a way both a large part of the process by which men and issues come to the fore for the climactic moment. And missing in considerable degree. The things that happen to and are done are not done by those man. With respect to those issues. After a moment of climax. Too often the journalists view of a public issue and the citizens too can look like an adversary system. Or make it look like an adversary system and nothing more. Certainly dramatic and opposing points of view make for lively programmes and sharp headlines. But many problems. Perhaps most contemporary problems do not divide neatly into two sharply opposing sides especially not when the tendency of those who are compressing their coverage is to
pick the sharpest side and perhaps in a sense the most extreme spokesman not necessarily in quantitative terms and not out of prejudice or misunderstanding but because of the impact which comes from that kind of sharply stated view. So it is a real challenge for all broadcasters but especially for public broadcasters to make the complexity of real problems. And the process of attempting to solve those problems as exciting. As engaging as head on debate. Public broadcasting must work out ways to unfold a vital and continuing stories like this one or the responsibly and coherently. And in such a way that people will look and listen. You will know better than I. Those of you who struggle with this task day in day out week in and week out how hard it is and what a dramatic sense of
encouragement and having done what one set out to do. Having been undone one thing comes when that kind of programming is achieved in a timely and a and effective way. One of the great gaps in the general area of political communication exists at the state and local level and in a way the very preoccupation and the drama which surrounds the national scene tends to make that kind of communication hard. And that I think becomes. A kind of special responsibility for public interest broadcasting it concerns among other things now delegates to conventions state and national conventions are selected who they are and how they respond to the needs and wishes of their own
electorate in different areas. This is territory still to largely unexplored. Of course there are exceptions again by our communications media both newspapers and broadcasters. Perhaps it is a responsibility for public television stations in the country to take it upon themselves individually and regionally to provide analysis commentary criticism and a forum for dealing with the questions of political organization and process. All of the parties not only nationally but in the state and local arenas. Such an effort might begin at least to help with the great problem that so much of our public feels that its voice is unheard. Between visits to the voting booths. Well these examples. Are drawn largely from the field of public
affairs could be duplicated in varied ways on other issues. But I have taken enough of your time already. Let me say only that in the foundation we will continue not only in this area of interest in public affairs programming and not only with contemporary political and social issues but also we hope across the spectrum of the potential to be concerned. Our grant making in the current year will have in the main. The same three categories that it has had in this last year are basic sustaining grant to any tea supplemented by our special grant for the second year of the Public Broadcasting laboratory in what we now are the plans of both any and PBL fills us with hope and with great interest in what they will be doing this year and we will proceed again with a
programming grant program a grant program of local programming grants I'm sorry the word turns up on both ends of that sentence. For individual stations on applications judged and selected by a panel which we will use as a heat shield and whose mistakes will not be ours. So as we look back over the last 20 months. We can see the considerable achievement on the part of public broadcasting. We can also see how much remains to be done. Surely a great opportunity does now open for a new administration and a new Congress. And equally surely a heavy burden of obligation falls upon all of us. To do our part in responding to those in the Congress and in the
administration who will have the duty of making these great decisions. Here I think we may take some comfort from our record in the last two years. We have not always been in precise agreement among ourselves but in the main we have succeeded in presenting our cause responsibly and in rising to the broad challenge. Of the Carnegie Commission report. The broader labor for the future not just for us. But for our country. Is to go on doing back. To do better in establishing national federal funding for public broadcasting. To do better in encouraging private funding. For Public Broadcasting. To do better in carrying forward our efforts to fulfill the true potential of instructional
television to do better in building the electronic turnpikes we need to do better in the programs that will ride these turnpikes and the local roads as well to do better in our relations with one another. And especially in our capacity for both unity and diversity. To reach these at Public Broadcasting will require three hopeful energetic people. Who are also willing to be bugged. We must encourage controversy and debate not for their own sake. But because of a characteristically American belief that the light from such heat can eliminate the real issues. We must be ready to stand the heat.
National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention highlights
McGeorge Bundy
Producing Organization
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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Highlights of the November, 1968, convention of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (National Association of Educational Broadcasters) in Washington, D.C. This prog.: Keynote address by McGeorge Bundy, president, Ford Foundation. "The Fifth Freedom."
Public Affairs
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Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: American University (Washington, D.C.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-Sp.6-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:20:05
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Chicago: “National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention highlights; McGeorge Bundy,” 1968-12-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 3, 2023,
MLA: “National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention highlights; McGeorge Bundy.” 1968-12-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 3, 2023. <>.
APA: National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention highlights; McGeorge Bundy. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from