thumbnail of Intertel; 23; America: The Edge of Abundance
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Episode Number
America: The Edge of Abundance
Producing Organization
Rediffusion Television Ltd. (London, England)
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
1 hour piece, produced by Rediffusion Television and initially distributed by NET in 1965. It was originally shot on film.
Episode Description
America - The Edge of Abundance explores the far reaching economic and social consequences of our nation's increasingly automated and computer-oriented society as viewed by our Atlantic neighbor, the British. In its penetrating report, produced by Intertel partner, Rediffusion Television Ltd., America - The Edge of Abundance goes to our nation's flourishing factories, stores, supermarkets, and efficient business offices; to schools, farms, suburban communities, nightclubs and entertainment attractions and to the assembly lines of mass production - where computers have taken over a variety of white collar jobs. Tracing America's growth from an agricultural base to a manufacturing society, the documentary focuses on the present "second great revolution" - the change to automation. Pointing to America's ability to produce goods in enormous quantity, the program pays special attention to the problem of having the products absorbed by the consumer. It also looks at the efforts being made to retrain skilled workers who have been displaced from their jobs by automation. However, the documentary notes that even the jobs for which the workers are being retrained are rapidly becoming automated. With material goods easily available to the American people and with technological development reducing the number of people needed in performing a job, America - The Edge of Abundance suggests that leisure, to a great extent, will become the new business of our nation. In view of this, the program concludes that our values must be re-examined. These eminent economists, computer experts, and asocial philosophers appear on the program: Dr. Ralph Bellman, computer expert, declares, "I think for many years we've seen human beings sacrificed to this tasteless god of efficiency. And it's about time that we now realized that the basic problem is that of the human being - he is what counts, not the machine, not the question of efficiency." Paul Armer, another computer authority, says, "I don't think we really know the limits to which machines can take over tasks from men... We'll be surprised by the things they can do that today we say they'll never be able to do." W.H. Ferry, social philosopher at the Center for Democratic Studios, believes the change to automation "requires a whole new view of what society is, what it ought to be, what its possibilities are... the willingness for people to try to take hold of their own destinies and invent new institutions to take and work out a decent world." Michael Harrington, distinguished author of the book about poverty in the US, The Other America, feels that although American society needs a change in its values concerning the definition of work, "that revolution's quite difficult... Abundance seems to create a certain kind of complacency rather than an ability for candid thought... perhaps we will be the one of the greatest paradoxes in history. Perhaps we'll be victimized by our creation of abundance." (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Series Description
Intertel, a dramatic breakthrough in the dissemination of ideas and cultural exchange through television, was conceived in November 1960. Five television broadcasters in the four major English-speaking nations joined to form the International Television Federation, to be known as Intertel, the first such international organization. The participants were Associated Rediffusion, Ltd. of Great Britain, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and for the United States, the National Educational Television and Radio Center and the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. Intertel produced on a bi-monthly basis hour-long documentaries on important world topics, inaugurating a global television production agency dedicated to the creation of programs of substance and meaning. John F. White, President of NET, called Intertel more than a fusion of the creative talents of the organizations involved in producing television programs of outstanding merit. It is a step forward to world understanding, he added. I believe that the exchange of documentaries, while of great significance in the vastness of the mutual understanding in it can foster, is but the first step in a regular exchange of all forms of programming. Donald H. McGannon, President of WBC, hailed the new organization as a pool of the technical and creative ability and knowledge of all the groups which will extend the international horizons of television in all aspects. This is the first practical step, after years of talking and hoping, toward the creation and use of international television for cultural exchange and an effective weapon for peace. By having observers examine topics far removed from their everyday assignments, Intertel gives viewers a fresh viewpoint. The founder members indicated that by dubbing these programs in foreign languages and making them available to all nations, they hoped television companies in Europe, Asia and South America will eventually join this unique project. The supervisory committee for the United States programming segments consists of Mr. McGannon and Mr. White; Richard M. Pack, WBC Vice President Programming; and Robert Hudson, NET Vice President for Programming. Intertel came into formal being November 14, 1960, in a special meeting in Vancouver, B.C., and the culmination of plans for such an association which has been under way for a long time. John McMilliam of Associate Rediffusion, was named contemporary Coordinating Officer at that time. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Social Issues
Public Affairs
Published Work: This work was offered for sale and/or rent in 1972.
Media type
Moving Image
Director: Morton, Bill
Executive Producer: Bennett, Cyril
Interviewee: Harrington, Michael
Interviewee: Armer, Paul
Interviewee: Bellman, Ralph
Interviewee: Ferry, W. H.
Narrator: Cameron, James
Producing Organization: Rediffusion Television Ltd. (London, England)
Writer: Hargreaves, Jack, 1911-1994
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2329475-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 16mm film
Generation: Copy: Access
Color: B&W
Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive
Identifier: [request film based on title] (Indiana University)
Format: 16mm film
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Chicago: “Intertel; 23; America: The Edge of Abundance,” 1965-01-20, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 24, 2024,
MLA: “Intertel; 23; America: The Edge of Abundance.” 1965-01-20. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 24, 2024. <>.
APA: Intertel; 23; America: The Edge of Abundance. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from