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The ethics of broadcasting as far as I'm concerned is give it back to the broadcasters and then once having given it back to the broadcasters if they do not honor. The trust and they are I repeat again. They are the trustees of their license. If they don't honor that trust then get them out of the business. We all have responsibility and we are not absolved from responsibility by being big. The corporation is as responsible as the individual before God. Much more responsible because it is creating a whole national culture. What will happen and the only thing that makes any sense is that some showman some men of good intuition. Responsibility insensitivity will emerge from this jungle of mediocre midgets and will do a job. That's all true well now let's get something straight there is no such thing as a mass audience. Every audience even the largest audience that ever watched TV is a minority of the population.
Those voices belong to Mike Wallace TV personality father William Lynch educator David Susskind program producer and doctoress Franklin Mack religious administrator. Anything. This is ethic 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 and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters program three. The broadcaster of the art part 2 and now here is your host John campus in this another Age of Criticism the answers to problems are as many as there are critics.
Sure and fast cures are readily forthcoming from every corner. And this is no less true in the field of broadcasting. The people who make broadcasting their business each from his own vaulted position see clearly through this maze of electronic images what it would take to unravel the Gordian knot. What in essence would be not necessarily the ideal situation but certainly something which would approximate it. Each could devise a broadcasting program log if given enough time or quote He then two would satisfy the masses. Those who own airwaves you and me. The broadcaster could broadcast what he wanted to. The viewer could be selective. The advertiser could invest in longer range quality efforts rather than quick return ventures. The law maker could enforce his codes and the critic though as a viewer wants to be selective but who must by the nature of his profession be denied that opportunity. He could suggest avenues
of approach more often rather than take the frequent pop shot road with no suggested remedy. But let us turn from this Platonic ideal and let some of these men speak for themselves. Oren Harris representative from Arkansas and chairman of the House Committee on legislative oversight gives us some background for the problem. During the course of the hearings and I certainly recognize the importance of these subjects one has to do with the code of ethics. I was Mr. Lippman said a moment ago I don't believe you can legislate morrow. But nevertheless I think that the committee can probably help a lot by providing guidelines as far as people to follow in connection with these important agencies where there are judicial functions as well as an administrative function during the course of the hearings all of these will be developed. We are urging
groups of all kind in the communications industry and the transportation industry in the securities field and others as well as the legal profession. And all to join with us helping to provide legislation that everyone recognizes that would be helpful and is needed in this modern day effort of ours to provide what is best in the gantries. Robert the chief counsel for the committee suggests further and more specific controls. I think Mr Harris as chairman Harris has covered the proposition pretty well in the main body of his remarks. But it would seem to me that probably one of the most important recommendations coming up in our interim report which Mr. Harris suggested himself for cooperation as a recommendation to deal with placing
responsibility upon the networks. Rather than relying solely upon the responsibility of the individual station license see for the program content being broadcast as we found out in the TV quiz show hearings. Shows would originate in a network located many thousands of miles away from the outlets of the individual stations. Yet the networks are not regulated directly but only indirectly by the commission. However the theory of the present law is that the responsibility for what goes over the airwaves rests with the individual licensee and that responsibility is enforced by the three year by the review at the end of each three year license period of the contents of the programs
that were broadcast by such licensee. And that system statutory placing a statutory responsibility haven't worked. As was shown by the quiz program. I think probably one of the greatest things that could come out of the these hearings would be to place responsibility for what goes out over the airways upon the in the place where the responsibility should be borne primarily. And this would be where specifically on the connection not with these broadcast national hookup programs it would be on the networks. The minority element in broadcasting comments next and coins a new word. Dr. S. Franklin Mack director of the National Council of Churches of Christ in America says well ah let's get something straight there is no such thing as a mass audience. Every audience even the largest audience that ever watched TV is a minority of the population. If we have a hundred seventy nine million. People in the USA today are the largest audience I ever
heard I was somewhere around 70 million. So every audience is a minority audience. There are some big minorities in the little minorities we would like to have as big a minority as we're entitled to. If we go on at 9 o'clock of a Tuesday night we would like to give the stations at least as large an audience as they normally would expect at that hour because otherwise we are narrow casting narrow casting. But Frank Stanton president of CBS as well as others has frequently suggested that broadcasting should reach most of the people most of the time. And Dr. Mac has some pretty set views on this. Well let me say for Frank Stanton that I sympathize with the head of a network or even with anybody who's trying to program on a local station and wants to serve the public interest who knows what the public interest is. The public has many interests. You and I have a wide range of interests one day one moment where an egghead to the other and next moment of watching a hockey game or professional wrestling or what have you so that wrapped up within each of us is a range of
interest. And some of us it ranges from the most popular type of entertainment to the most he had. I happen to like Symphony and Hopper and ballet and what have you as well as getting quite a kick out of sports events and a lot of other things I won't mention that represent a wide range of tastes so what is the public interest and any one time you have to guess what a sizable proportion of the public will be interested in. We generally feel that in the peak listening hours of the evening the larger audience is interested in entertainment in getting away from it all and relaxing from the cares of the day. And if you popped a really serious programme in there too regularly you would defeat your own purpose you've got to think of the psychology of your audience when you're trying to serve the public interest. There's not a thing that I would like to say about public interest. And that has been brought out by an article I read recently called the Freedom of taste through the living
room of 80 some odd percent of American homes today runs a highway of TV over which comes a wide range of programming now. Many of us watching TV and seeing our own favorite program find a program following it that we don't like. And so instead of saying this program is obviously for somebody else and not for me we say why do they put on such terrible programs. The broadcaster is faced with a problem as to what does appeal to the American public. A former broadcaster who has returned to advertising Sylvester Pat Weaver formerly head of NBC presents his view in the last 20 years. It is not storytelling that is appeal to the American public it's nonfiction all you have to do is look at life and love and Reader's Digest and the rest of the magazines the woman's feel to know that it is not storytelling it is nonfiction It is covering the real world it is following the interests of these people as they. Grow into more
adult moods and interests. This is what is the real driving interest of the American public. This is why you can get 35 and 40 million people to watch nonfiction in prime time on the networks. But you gotta know how to do it you gotta know how to produce it how to schedule it how to promote it how to exploit it you've got to be a professional. If you run the hall if you lay down the pipe and turn on the spigot you're going to put the show a nonfiction show on it and then you get and you're going to get clobbered. And then the advertisers won't support it and pretty soon we'll be all back like we were a couple years ago to nothing but nothing but you know the most elementary kind of uninspired Hollywood hack work you know that marvelous camera that can take you anywhere in the world it can point through the porthole through which you can look at outer space and everything else that's camera pointing right at that 10 Canon Hollywood with the old film in it. You know this is disgraceful.
And from an earlier broadcast we heard that the public doesn't get what it wants. Father William Lynch of Georgetown University reacts to this statement made by John Deere for former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Well I believe that Mr. Dolphin is or were wrong and I say that with much conviction if I can command I would like to ask him. On what ground he senses on. What evidence do we have for that or for thinking that the public picks any of these programs. Secondly even if it were true which it is not can we point to any principle of education in Western civilization which is ever except to the fact that anything from a level of a single parent to a giant organization like the television industry is so without educational responsibility that it must simply ask the question what do the children want. What do the people want. I think this
is can be reduced to being a contemptible question. We have never educationally in the West proceeded on the principle. It is the constant principle of taking polls again. What do the people want. So my position is double. I do not believe that this is what they want because we have never gone about finding evidence for the fact that they want exactly this kind of incredibly inferior Western or Deadeye Dick stuff. But secondly even if by any most unhappy chance this were true it had never been an educational principle of men of integrity in the way that we should proceed educationally on the principle that this is what the children want. This is what the people want. We all have responsibility and we are not absolved from responsibility by being big. The corporation is as
responsible as the individual before God. Much more responsible because it is creating a whole national culture. The president of Georgetown University Father Bonn appears to agree and pleads the case for quality programming which can be profitable. Oh I think if they produce good programs. But in the long run they are natural people would find they'd be more profitable to produce the good programs. I admit it's a difficult thing with the radio and television going the length of time they do go but to do it to accomplish that but I think they could put many many more programs on there would be far more productive over the long range from finite from a financial viewpoint and the fact that it is put on now and the insult to intelligence.
There are after all about 10 million educated people I would say in the United States and Americans were last to rebut it. A lot of these things they now insult their intelligence and take it lightly. But it does but the television isn't having It's not an either right Teenie and in a way that's solid. I don't necessarily mean instructive but pleasurable on an artistic plane. Now this can be done by what he refers to here as reflective programming very significant things ideas can't be conveyed through broadcasting through the river and through the television. And you know what it will lead to a lot of reflection and I think we need more programs to make people reflect You see I mean not programs that are pacifists.
We know there are three types of reading. There's the passive reading which I could get to doing get an interest and excitement and then there's the act of reading it which I want to get all my descriptions here so you can try to visualize what's described by the return of the writer and then there's the reflector reading it with something just like you know you sit down and just let my mind ruminate over it and expand that fight so that I don't know what I read from what I have because of my assimilation what I read what I put into it far from what I actually read from the heat and I think you should have types it. Broadcast of that nature something like things that you can listen to passively but not everything. And speaking of critics as we were earlier father bomb here refers to a critic and critique with a suggestion or two.
When I referred to the letter written by the name Ben Benson the Southport Connecticut who organized the Voice of America was assistant secretary of state and vice president of the University of Chicago. This letter appeared in New York Times on November the 11th 1959. He says the rigging of quiz programs is a not on natural consequence of the dedication of our television system to the amusing be musing and beguiling the American people. The key question is whether that is all the American people want in TV. Unhappily they have never been made aware of the potential alternatives. Television can be the greatest instrument for enlightenment ever devised. I do not believe our people are so far gone and self a dull indulgence that they would continue to seek only amusement. The newsman and beguilement from this astounding new instrument if they were informed and educated to the use of the
alternatives there is today no effective channel for marshalling opinions about the potential values of television and an opinion must be marshaled if we are to have constructive legislation from Congress and to hope for constructive rulings from the Federal Communications Commission the president's hand would be strengthened if the Congress were to call upon him by Joint Resolution to create a commission serving on a permanent basis because the airwaves are the property of all the people who are signed of these who use them by a federal agency. This is a permanent and legitimate area of public concern and I do not suggest granting any power to the Commission except to launch studies and issue reports. But I would urge that the commission be provided with a budget and it's that. The burden appears to have been placed on the Federal Communications Commission and when talking about controls to broadcasters the words self regulation come out in
the same breath that they the broadcasters are able to clean up their own houses. This was the feeling of the late Herr old fellow as president of the National Association of Broadcasters who we have standards and guidelines now we have we have self-regulation regulation which has been in operation in the radio business for 30 years which has been in operation in the television business for nine years now our codes of television and I stand as a practice for a year were available to every single individual in the United States as a matter of fact I'll give you each a copy if you don't have one because I think you'll agree that we can get a great majority of the stations and the entities broadcasting entities in this country to join subscribe to and hear to that call and that is our job. That is going to be our job for the next year for Cisco for this month this code is inforced by policing monitoring by checking by receipt of complaints from anyone any We wish people would write us if they have a complaint about the program and
that they do get or don't get it in a magazine that is public and they subscribe to your National Association of Broadcasters. Cole and I carry a CEO. So I'm a flagrant. While they do this we take our sweat we take your seal away all right so you take want to see the way this doesn't mean much to the highest as does being that much of the public and it's got to mean more and more to the public and the more it means the more the broadcaster will be proud of that SEAL and he will see to it that the public knows that we're in business we're in business for that very reason that we believe that this should be a greater television a great a radio thing in the in America let's not call it a thing but I think you know what I mean. We we realize and have realized for many years that I do agree to a degree than most people sense. We have in the palm of our hands a radio and television the making of a great America or are sending it to pieces that we believe that sincerely and since we do believe that
our codes if you were raised to read them carefully out pretty well and pretty intelligently written they have been revised four or five times in the past six or seven years and I think. Probably And we we just revised them where with regard to quiz scandals in Paoli we had no no real reason to know that this was going up fundamentally so quickly. We have the codes that thing which will prevent that. We now turn to David sus kind noted program packager and put the question squarely what you think is the answer. Catering to the public trying to reach most of the people most of the time making a fast buck. Yes all of that plus the play it safe psychology carbon copies being safer and easier to live with and innovation and experimentation. What have we arrived at what we might call formula television obviously. Look if they were a television set any night if you could buy that and you see formula television coming at you by the read well as a programme producer and how could you hear what
controllers are you affected by. I'm affected by the kind of sick appetite of the buyer. Essentially the network and or the advertising agency to repeat successful formula is already in existence. When I come in with something new fresh different and exciting I am listening to a certain minimal courtesy and then I'm out. And then I'm asked. Haven't you got something like Father Knows Best. Could you create a kind of a gun some with a switch. How about a wagon train that would really be kind of in a tent somewhere. And I always say no I'm for it I couldn't do that what about the show we've been discussing. They say well it's too it's too champ see you know really much too chancy. Well then what. What area what working ground do we have for creativity or building awareness broadcasting ideas. Well I don't you see you subscribe to the notion that some super solution can
be super imposed from without but the government by some magic wand could change things. Or that a miracle might occur in philosophical terms none of that's going to happen. What will happen and the only thing that makes any sense is that some showman some men of good intuition. Responsibility insensitivity will emerge from this jungle of mediocre midgets and will do a job. That's all I know to bring about what you have suggested. Some answers have been put forth like having a czar like having a combination of intellectual individuals who oversee this. Do you feel that this is needed or is the status quo sufficient to bring this about. Well I can't I can accept your premise that it's either or. The status quo is ugly and needs hauling and revolutionizing and it is happening. The notion of Azaadi or a number of czars is ridiculous
utterly ridiculous. It's not a game a children's game whereby an umpire can say chaps stop this and I would also be terribly worried about bizarre. I would have a feeling that he would be one of the mental derelicts of whom we already enjoy. Too many in the industry on the other hand I would be very leery of an outsider having no conception of broadcasting or programming stepping in because he had a big reputation in another field. I think it violates the very conception of a balanced programming diet to have a single man as voice of all authority. It lies within the province of television and its many components. The broadcasters the networks the agencies and the sponsors to do its own job. Charles Slepian chairman of the communications program at New York University would add one important word to the list of freedoms for which we fight. The larger problem I think to me is absolutely clear. We have wrested to
ourselves part was through the advances in science the control over which raises formidable public questions broadcasting is one such power. We never had that power before. Atomic Energy is another. The problem of the exercise of freedom in our society is now highlighted in terms of the absolutely inescapable of assumed Association of freedom with responsibility. We took freedom as though this were a right. We haven't grasped the fact that the exercise of freedom is useless and dangerous unless with it's exercise it is coupled a sense of responsibility in the context of its exercise. The broadcaster give him freedom under the license that he has to function is a public threat unless he exercises that freedom far more than purely selfish or monetary reasons. Because he's broadcasting his function is in an area of influence and effect that transcends his private gain or his private interests.
Therefore what he does as the act itself says is vested with a public interest. This to me is the problem of our time. We have forces at our command so tremendous that that exercise without responsibility spells doom. And I think we're being forced now to recognize that the right to know of the ordinary citizen in the context of political responsibility of social awareness of cultural growth is a new element that we have to add to the First Amendment's protection of our right to speak. Now this right to know what our new complection on the right to speak and the freedom of speech. And I would introduce you introduce this new clause the First Amendment is fine as it protects the individual's right to express himself but that right may not be exercised without a sense of responsibility because the consequences of its misuse are socially dangerous. So in the final analysis are the freedoms about which we talk a right
or a privilege. Well they are both. And Mike Wallace leaves no doubt as to what one group namely the broadcasters are to do. The epic the broadcasting as far as I'm concerned is give it back to the broadcasters and then once having given it back to the broadcasters if they do not honor. The trust and they are I repeat again they are the trustees of their license. If they don't honor that trust then get them out of the business. It is an informational educational entertainment medium. They are the trustees of the airway. Let them honor that trust and let them them alone control what goes out on here. Thus it does appear that the broadcaster can be in fact is in the best position to direct the destinies of those of us who appear to be mesmerized by this newest and potentially the most awesome of the mass media. You've been listening to the broadcaster of the art part 2 the third in a
Ethic for broadcasting
Broadcaster of the art, part 2
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WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two parts, discusses the need for artfulness in broadcasting.
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This series presents interviews that center on issues in broadcasting and society.
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Film and Television
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Host: Cambis, John
Interviewee: Wallace, Mike, 1918-2012
Interviewee: Lynch, William
Interviewee: Mack, S. Franklin (Silas Franklin), 1899-
Interviewee: Susskind, David, 1920-1987
Producer: Cusack, Marianne
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-52-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:06
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Chicago: “Ethic for broadcasting; Broadcaster of the art, part 2,” 1961-09-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 5, 2021,
MLA: “Ethic for broadcasting; Broadcaster of the art, part 2.” 1961-09-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 5, 2021. <>.
APA: Ethic for broadcasting; Broadcaster of the art, part 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from