Nineteen seventy-four was marked by Richard Nixon’s departure from the White House and Whitehead’s resignation as OTP Director. Shortly before resigning the Presidency, Nixon sent Congress the long-range funding plan for public broadcasting Whitehead had promised the Senate during his confirmation hearing four years earlier. Submission of the plan reportedly came only after Chief-of-Staff Alexander Haig convinced Nixon to reverse an earlier decision not to submit the bill to Congress. On April 2, Whitehead sent a memo to the President recommending submission of a multi-year appropriations bill for CPB to Congress. The proposed legislation mandated a pass-through to the local stations of a substantial portion of CPB’s appropriations.
When Richard Nixon took office in January 1969, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was in its infancy and the Office of Telecommunications Policy (OTP) had yet to be created. Staff responsibilities for public broadcasting rested largely with Peter Flanigan, Assistant to the President, and Clay T. Whitehead, then a White House staff assistant. The new Administration recognized that it would shape the future of public broadcasting in America and reap credit or criticism for its efforts. The first action the new President took was to appoint Albert L. Cole, a Director of Reader’s Digest, to a vacancy on the 15-member Board President Johnson had appointed the previous March. Cole was appointed March 15, 1969.
Nineteen seventy-two saw President Nixon veto funding for public broadcasting. In the wake of Nixon’s veto, Pace and Macy resigned as chairman and president, respectively, of CPB. Pace was replaced by Thomas Curtis, a former Congressman from Missouri; Macy, by Henry Loomis, a career civil servant, then the Deputy Director of USIA. In addition to Curtis, Nixon appointed six other Directors in 1972. On January 14, Whitehead sent a memo to Flanigan in which he recommended a “CPB budget request of $35 million for FY 73 with quiet Administration support of the Pastore/Magnuson bill already introduced to extend CPB authorization at the current $35 million level for one year only.”
The Nixon Administration continued to develop its position on public broadcasting in 1970. While doing so, it proposed a new three-year authorization for CPB. In 1970, the President also appointed five CPB Directors. On February 6, Whitehead wrote to Flanigan, Garment, Ranks, Shakespeare and McWhorter, asking them for suggestions for the five CPB Board seats opening up in March. “I think it would be useful if we could come up with a list of five outstanding individuals,” Whitehead wrote.
These memoes from the Nixon Administration cover a period of peak conflict between the White House and public broadcasting. The documents were released by the government five years later in response to a Freedom of Information Act request in 1978 by the second Carnegie Commission. These summaries were prepared and released during the Carter Administration by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the successor agency of the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy, a central player in the 1969-74 conflict.The summaries were published as The Nixon Administration Public Broadcasting Papers 1969-1974 by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. Introduction and Foreword to NAEB printing and NTIA letters of transmittal are shown below. Yearly summaries: 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
Foreword [to NAEB publication]
In publishing The Nixon Administration Public Broadcasting Papers 1969-1974, the NAEB is making available to its members and other interested parties a record of a particularly critical period in the history of public broadcasting.
Report of the Carnegie Commission
on the Future of Public Broadcasting —
In 1977, 10 years after the original Carnegie Commission recommended federal aid to public television, the Carnegie Corporation of New York created a second blue-ribbon panel to ponder policies on noncommercial broadcasting. Its report was released in January 1979. See also the Carnegie II report’s recommendations and membership. Twelve years have elapsed since the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television recommended a strengthened system of television stations, to be called public television. In the intervening years public radio and television have become established as major American institutions.
In 1977, a decade after the first Carnegie Commission endorsed federal aid to noncommercial TV, the Carnegie Corporation of New York created a second panel to study noncommercial TV and radio. Its recommendations were published in 1979 …
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION v. PACIFICA FOUNDATION ET AL. CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF
No. 77-528. Argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, April 18-19, 1978, and decided, July 3, 1978. See full text and citations on FindLaw.
This detailed paper was published in the October 1972 issue of Educational Broadcasting Review, the journal of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. The paper — by Hartford Gunn, the first president of PBS — led to PBS’s creation of an annual program market called the Station Program Cooperative, which became, for nearly two decades, PBS’s main method of aggregating station funds to produce ongoing series. Introductory note by Avon Edward Foote, editor of Educational Broadcasting Review
One of the important functions of EBR is to circulate documents which embody important new concepts, proposals, and suggestions. The values are two-fold: full publication makes it possible to study the actual details of a proposal rather than rumors or speculations about it, and distribution through the EBR engages the entire profession in the process of analysis and deliberation. The article that follows is one of those documents.