Ethic for broadcasting; Advertiser of the art, part 1
Well that word control has been bandied about and it's such a vague and general thing it implies. Normally when used these days that some that advertisers exert some insidious influence to make all programs dull ridiculous and on entertaining their eyes and warp them to their own destiny purposes I think this is sheer nonsense it hasn't been the case it never will be the case. Why do these men and women but mostly men in charge of broadcasting try to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Because their purpose in broadcasting is not broadcasting per se but the selling of goods per se and they realize that they can reach the largest audience by a low common denominator of programming in other words they are using broadcasting as a device to sell goods. While I certainly think that the a great deal of very bad taste is shown in advertising on television and I personally find it very difficult to watch.
I have never been told and asked I've never heard a suggestion or a hint. And I never got any kind of message from any kind of sponsor about this or that piece of news. And I think it should remain that way. Those voices belong to Robert Foreman advertiser Mike Wallace broadcaster Sylvester Weaver advertiser and David Brinkley broadcaster. The I'M. 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 Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Program
6 the advertiser of the art part 1 and now here is your host John Campbell as we find ourselves to be a part of the age of consumption. Conspicuously consuming products at a greater rate than at any time in history. The standard of living measured in material wealth is at an all time high. Focus on these products and their value is brought to bear by the advertiser the purveyor the Huckster whose mission is to set before the average man specific and concrete incentives for the acquisition of better ways of living but whose avowed purpose is to sell to sell his product by using all the means and techniques at his disposal to have you believe that you could not believe without it. The American system of broadcasting is built on this concept. Advertising is the angel providing the wherewithal to operate in the public interest convenience or necessity. The dawn of broadcasting found it to be devoid of advertising but shortly thereafter broadcasting was to take up Madison Avenue residence not heeding the words of Herbert
Hoover then secretary of commerce who talked about advertising chatter management invested close to 12 billion dollars in advertising in 1960 an amount double that of 10 years ago and almost six times that of one thousand forty radio and television took a large chunk of that money. 960 broadcast revenues for television alone where one billion two hundred sixty eight million dollars profit before taxes was two hundred forty three million $900000 an average return on revenue of nineteen point two percent. A real investor's market. Why so much. What happens to this money and the matter of control says the broadcaster free to operate in the public interest convenience or necessity. Where are the voices of the coffers louder as to this matter of controls. We first turn to a former broadcaster and now chairman of McCann Erikson international Sylvester Pat Weaver and I ask you now as chairman of one of the largest companies
in the country. May I ask you what may be a rather thick question. There's been some concern about too much control by advertisers. Prove him wrong. Well of course that depends of most of the advertisers have had very little control. That is you speaking out of television. I mean and first of all to go back in radio we ran the business we the agencies and the advertisers. We did the work for the television not the radio networks were definitely facilities they had news coverage and that's all they didn't do any programming in effect. It was all done by the radio and agencies and their clients. That was why a bunch of us who felt radio had not served as a very good example of the 20th century industrial democracy decided that we would go into television and say did the same thing didn't happen to radio we who had run radio you might say moved in the television to run television not responsive to the individual
client wish program by program. And there are in television many values that a sponsor can get from sponsorship and I believe he should have the magazine concept which we started at NBC in 49 of 50 didn't mean that little advertisers could buy 1 minutes in big shows which they were never able to do in radio because it was locked up for the club that the top 25 advertisers we had it. We kept it. We had to discount structure we had everything. Why should we give it up now. Moving over to television. All of a sudden starting in 1989 a man could buy one minute and many of them did S.O.S for instance build a whole fantastic growth in one minutes on the old show show starting in 50 and then wrist watches and some others like that. Well the the question of there was no. There could be no concern in those shows these big multiple sponsored projects that we did where the Advertiser had of course
no say in those except to say that he didn't want to keep on he could cancel. There were however shows that we would tailor make to advertisers because we wanted to get support for certain kinds of shows we thought would be good also for the advertising. There's nothing wrong with sponsorship. The thing that's wrong is if the advertisers begin to exploit the shows or something like that but this is I think a very rare thing. The other part where the interference comes because of the of the fear of the the agencies and the advertisers kind of the built up fear of not mentioning other products and things like that this is a passing phase I think. Just like you couldn't say CBS on NBC. You know this is one of those rather childish things even including the ones that. The Jack Google is always pouncing on. It may be a great mistake in judgment for the American Gas Association not to want to
have the German using the gas chambers to execute people but certainly as an agency man and an advertiser nothing would be less astonishing to me than that it would not be something you'd go out and spend a vast amount of money on to associate yourself with something that would not help you. Now the way out of that of course again is in the form you insulate the advertiser from the program if it's that kind of a program. On the contrary though an outfit like Bell and Howell who are McCann clients. Get tremendous value out of associating themselves with the reporting that have been done on CBS in one time where they embrace coverage even though it might be controversial because the idea of the service that they're to rendering in presenting this material to the people is well understood. People aren't that stupid.
Yet at the same time if you are a cigarette company and you do sponsor a comedian who smokes cigars you don't like it. It does. It just makes sense that if you're spending your money to sell cigarettes you don't want a comedian who smokes cigars. You know it doesn't make any sense. But the people they get all mixed up on this this is an absolute trifle in the business that's what it is a trifle. We continue this matter of controls and turn to Earl Kepner former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission who states the advertising portion of the burden which is the primary concern of the tread of the Federal Trade Commission rests upon a Trade Commission and upon the industry I have said many times that while the Trade Commission has the legal responsibility for making sure that false and misleading advertising not be disseminated either over broadcasting facilities are in the newspapers
magazines and periodicals. That the broadcasters the advertisers the newspapers the magazines and the periodicals have a responsibility a moral responsibility of already hearing to the law. This is a responsibility all of citizenship. It applies to businessmen as well as to the average citizen who is concern perhaps with traffic laws. What we enforce here at the Federal Trade Commission are really traffic laws for the business community and I am convinced that the great majority of businessmen just as the great majority of citizens in all other walks of life are honest people who wish to abide by the laws. I have been engaged in a campaign of convincing those business
people that they have a greater responsibility than they perhaps realize far self policing self discipline self in Forsman self compliance with the laws of the land. If there is self compliance self discipline self policing is good business for them and good citizenship which they owe their country. Mr. Kent at what point do you draw a line as to what is good or bad taste in advertising. The borderline if we must make a general rule between what is false in advertising and what is legally proper in advertising is whether there is a material misrepresentation. Now the matter of whether advertising is in good taste is
something else again. The Federal Trade Commission is not concerned except as we are concerned as individual citizens with what is good taste in advertising. Ours is the responsibility of making sure that only advertising that is legal is disseminated to the American people. However the advertising industry in order to ensure the public confidence and integrity in its product do have a heavy measure of responsibility for disseminating advertising to the public that is in good taste. We've heard comments on this matter of taste from the advertisers point of view. Well I certainly think that a great deal of very bad taste is shown in advertising on television and I personally find it very difficult to watch. On the other hand I think that they are way off base when they worry about the fact that
in the studio you must do certain things so that in the home the product looks and looks right. In other words when you put shaving cream in the bay area if that's what you do this is perfectly alright as long as it looks like beer with a head on it in the home because there is nothing phony about that that's part of the illusion that you need. Under the hot lights and with all the technological difficulties that you have in production. We put this question to Mr. Kemp in there about false and misleading advertising. Well I can't get into shaving of sandpaper because that he that is involved in that problem is it is in litigation here at the commission. I would say that if you wanted a clear instance where some deception might be legal you would find it in the ice cream
cone stop with my tables because obviously ice cream melts under the lights. The. The essential thing is I think that the ice cream cone stuffed with mice potatoes not looking any better than the genuine product does. Oh stage going back to a broadcaster We asked David Brinkley NBC network newscaster about the advertiser control of program content. Well in the news field so far as I am aware there is no control whatsoever. I have never been told asked I've never heard a suggestion or a hint and never got any kind of message from any kind of sponsor about this or that piece of news. And I think it should remain that way. If they if a sponsor wants to put on the air a program I don't really see
anything intrinsically wrong with his having something to say about it. I'm talking about things other than news and public affairs. It was sponsor wants to put a program on the air I don't really see anything evil in his having some say about what is in the program. Sponsors are not not noticeably different from anybody else they are American citizens who have the same same stake in this country or anyone else has. I don't I don't really see anything wrong with it that like anything else can be abused but it needn't necessarily be abuse. An educator comments next. Dr. Edward Rosen time associate professor of humanities at the University of Chicago and he's asked about the purposes of broadcasting. What would a part of the problem of one of the statements that keeps coming up again and again in the series of the broadcasting industry is run by businessmen and not showmen.
And if this is so I wonder why the businessmen can see this this obvious thing is that there are for the past but like Miller said in one of his talks they have a day in the lives of a 13 week arising. They're primarily concerned with the building up the long run. I think I think we're quite right about that John. My my fear I'd far be it from from my professor of literature or to do presume to criticize the conduct of American business and yet I often wonder whether there isn't something extraordinarily shortsighted about about the advertising philosophy that goes into the mass media and whether there is whether even the advertisers are remarkably docile about accepting these short range conventions I mean the 13 week business is one example of it that serve violent appearance to a particular advertising formula that comes in at stated intervals in the midst of a half hour segment is another. It seems to me that with the exception of some of the delightful cartoons that occasionally show up as advertising
vehicles I've seen less imagination and charm using the advertising on these on these programs than when one might expect particularly if you consider how much how much imagination can often go into a magazine advertising. So I mean I think I curiously enough that in the use of this relatively brand new invention by advertisers and businessmen have been singularly imagine Mike Wallace television personality is unequivocal when he asks why do these men and women but mostly men in charge of broadcasting try to appeal to the lowest common denominator because their purpose in broadcasting is not broadcasting per se but the selling of goods per se and they realize that they can reach the largest audience by a low common denominator of programming in other words they are using broadcasting as a device to sell goods and they take it out of the realm of the merchandising and into the raw realm of the informing an entertaining on its own level. Then we'll get better programming.
The very men who produce these programmes don't listen wouldn't listen. I don't particularly want their families listening to a good deal of what they put on the air I've heard them say so themselves. But they figure that they're doing it for some great unwashed crowd someplace out there. With whom they have no real communion or and for whom they have very little respect. Mr. Wallace What about advertiser control of programs on which you appeared. Actually the advertiser surprisingly enough in my case can they impose no controls. They made one suggestion one suggestion in the entire time that they were my sponsor and they have been my sponsor consistently for about four years much the Philip Morris company and they were a little bit distressed because I want to be ahead of you I should say a little bit they were considerably distressed because I wanted to interview the head of the Ku Klux Klan. And they were afraid that because they had had a bad experience in the South prior to that that they might that their product might be severely
damaged in the south. Well finally I persuaded them that it was a good idea to go ahead with the interview and far from damaging him in the south. It was an interview the did no damage at all to the product and reflected credit in that they were the sponsors of what was an outright controversial program. Again about two years ago when controversial programming perhaps was not as acceptable as it is becoming today. Now as for pressures from local stations on which I've done my interviews virtually no perhaps every once in a while the exception that proves the rule. The only place that I got considerable editorial pressure was at the American Broadcasting Company where there was considerable pressure. Mind you in the final analysis I won I would say 95 percent of the time but it sometimes wasn't. I spend a good deal more time trying to get my the privilege of interviewing certain people and getting certain
questions asked on television and getting into certain subjects on television I spend much more time doing that than in the actual preparation and production of the show itself. Charles Slepian head of the communications program at New York University was asked about this control element in broadcasting this next question you have articulated very well earlier generally get more specific in terms of the controls externally external from the FCC and we say we may use the term censorship controls imposed by advertising in terms of advertising controlling the program content but we actions you know this. Would I have rather strong feelings. I think again the record shows that over the years the broadcast licensee as regards the determination of the programs for which he is responsible has tended to take a backseat leaving decisions of this kind in fact to the man who pays him his money. The advertiser or
the advertisers agency as a result at present and for years past the advertiser and the advertising agencies have exerted a control over the determination of program content that I think is excessive and because of the private interests of these persons is to control. Its bend in the direction of their self interest and it's bent away from the public interest. I think the evidence is overwhelming that this in practice is what takes place and for that reason. I favor a total divorce from any concern with the determination of individual programs or program balance in the overall sense by the advertiser. The return to the only person who won the law has ever had this responsibility the licensee of complete responsibility therefore we have a president that again perhaps is worth looking into. In England as you know in television has been a
departure from the old system of total control and responsibility of the British Broadcasting Corporation in England you have in effect two television services one run by the BBC a private service corporation but outside without such for profits and in parallel become a national system. The Ita the Independent Television administration where the sponsor has moved in here. Advertisers are making a lot of money. And broadcasters are making a lot of money because it works but the licensee in or out of the Advertiser in England is not allowed to determine a programme. The stations determine the programmes and the advertiser comes in rather as the spot advertiser comes in in our system. He is in effect divorced at least theoretically from any concern with the determination of what that program at that hour is going to be something of that order I think is what we need here too. The Reverend William Lynch of Georgetown University refers to his book The image industries when
he talks about a sense of the responsibility of a mass media within the thin gauge when it's so great that it is almost incalculable so powerful of their control over our most intimate and everyday images and therefore overall final attitudes and decisions. It is doubtful whether the present commercial methods of the media will live up to that responsibility unless the most valid and most powerful pressure not of the sensor but of the national intelligence it brought to back against a censor. Much different from the one you and I talk about. Robert Foreman director of Bouton Barton Stephen Osborne says of controls Well that word control has been bandied about and it's such a vague and general thing it implies. Normally when used these days that some that advertisers exert some insidious influence to make all programs dull ridiculous and an entertaining and warp them to their own destiny purposes I think this is sheer nonsense it hasn't been the
case it never will be the case. It's true that advertisers will not spend their money to do something that will destroy their particular business or in any way go toward destroying it. But control change I don't think will exist. I think there will still be the Joint Control Agency advertiser and network with the final control of final say resident where it always has been and where it can only be. Under our system of televising that is with the network was your agency handling any of the products that sponsor its programs. Yes sure we had the $64000 question and $64000 challenge. OK now there. Let me ask them for two years were among other agencies and therefore we handle products on them of course. You know the whole investigation began. The biggest shock to me to me here at heights because of the quiz show investigation you know as a as an advertiser
I think you were responsible for some of the programs. What control factors were not put into play to foresee some of this. I mean how were we as an agency duped about what and by what had been done but by our sheer naivety and. Trust in the way the shows were produced. It sounds silly to say this but the two years that we worked on the 64 question the challenge they were at rather high points in their careers. Therefore the packagers the people who produced these shows were supreme. They did what they pleased and the only alternative the advertiser and therefore its agency had was to say OK we don't want the show anymore. But when they were doing so well obviously that would have been ridiculous because a competitor would have picked it up tomorrow. So your normal knowledge in working with the inner workings of a package were no longer
in effect. And that is why to the best of my knowledge we knew nothing of what was going on in the terms of fixing these things as has come out in the investigations. No. As a result of what did go on. Has there been any drastic change in terms of your policy abroad of sponsoring particular things or handling particular accounts. You don't need to sit and have a policy on this we haven't bought any. Nor would the networks let them go on. Sure it would been a drastic change. As you can tell by looking at what is on television today is against what was on during before the investigation. It's a tarnish type of program therefore an advertiser would be remiss to buy it even if he bought an honest one. And you find it only a long time if ever the quiz type the show comes back on television. Well as the head of an advertising agency you know what about the
suggestion of particular programs you get into the area of programming you know. Do I personally know that when the agency it's going to certainly force you in terms of control you can exert over this would you. Are you suggesting particular types of programs to remove the onus of the quiz programs to get over to the other side of the scale. Well we are not recommending quiz programs to our advertisers. The question is not what isn't being recommended. More significant is what is what efforts are being exerted by agencies so empowered to act in suggesting programming of the ilk which is discussed by them which is given lip service but somehow never gets before the cameras or microphones. Better programming but the horizon somewhat longer than 13 weeks. Better programming which would work towards favorably reflecting corporate images rather than creating instantaneous product response better programming which may develop public interest rather than constantly resorting to that which appears to interest the public. Money isn't always the
- Ethic for broadcasting
- Advertiser of the art, part 1
- Producing Organization
- WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, the first of two parts, focuses on advertisement in television.
- Other Description
- This series presents interviews that center on issues in broadcasting and society.
- Broadcast Date
- Film and Television
- Media type
Host: Cambis, John
Interviewee: Brinkley, David
Interviewee: Siepmann, Charles A. (Charles Arthur), 1899-1985
Interviewee: Foreman, Robert
Interviewee: Wallace, Mike, 1918-2012
Interviewee: Weaver, Sylvester
Producer: Cusack, Marianne
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-52-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Ethic for broadcasting; Advertiser of the art, part 1,” 1961-10-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-tm720v6p.
- MLA: “Ethic for broadcasting; Advertiser of the art, part 1.” 1961-10-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-tm720v6p>.
- APA: Ethic for broadcasting; Advertiser of the art, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-tm720v6p