President Kennedy, 1962: Facilities act will help put unused educational TV channels on the air

Statement by President John F. Kennedy, May 1, 1962, upon signing the Educational Television Facilities Act, Public Law 87-447 (76 Stat. 64), which provided subsidies for educational broadcasting facilities. This marks a new chapter in the expression of federal interest in education. One hundred years ago, with the enactment of the Morrill Land Grant College Act, higher education was made a matter of national concern while, at the same time, state operation and control were retained. Today, we take a similar action.

Educational Television Facilities Act of 1962

With this law, signed by President Kennedy on May 1, 1962, Congress gave the first major federal aid to public broadcasting. The grants for new and replacement facilities and equipment were overseen by the Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The successor Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) was operated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in the Department of Commerce until 2011, when budget cutbacks ended PTFP appropriations (Current, April 18, 2001). The act became Part IV of the Public Broadcasting Act:

Declaration of Purpose

SEC. 390.

David M. Davis memo, 1958: ‘This will not be just another television program’

David M. Davis, an early TV production executive at Boston’s WGBH, pushes his producers to excel in a 1958 memo. He later became a major grantmaker for the Ford Foundation and chief exec of PBS’s longrunning drama showcase, American Playhouse. Memorandum July 23, 1958

To: Tv producer-directors
From: David M. Davis
Subject: Creativity

I have a great concern that we are not all utilizing the creative imagination that we have to make our programs interesting, stimulating, and even exciting. It seems to me that many of us are in a rather deep rut on stock format types of programs, and that real attempt at creation is not taking place. I think that the lifestyle series which will be assigned to each producer on a rotating basis during the coming season will be very helpful in this regard since each producer will have an opportunity to develop his own program in the direction in which he wishes to go.