Carnegie I: Members, Preface and Introductory Note, 1967

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Killian A 15-member commission created in 1965 by a major foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, released its report, Public Television: A Program for Action, on Jan. 26, 1967, popularizing the phrase “public television” and assisting the legislative campaign for federal aid to the field. (Public radio was added later by Congress.) See also Summary of the report’s recommendations.

The commission chair, James R. Killian Jr. (1904-88) had already played a prominent public role as the first White House science advisor, 1955-57, advocating emphasis on science education, the creation of NASA and greater funding for the National Science Foundation as the Eisenhower administration responded to Washington’s post-Sputnik panic. At MIT, Killian was a former Technology Review editor and wartime R&D leader who became the school’s president, 1948-59, and chair, 1959-71. He served on the first CPB Board, 1968-74, and chaired it, 1973-74, and was named to numerous official panels on national goals, foreign intelligence, education, science, arms control and disarmament. He was the moderator of the American Unitarian Association, 1960-61.

Members of the Commission

  • James B. Conant, Former President, Harvard University
  • Lee A. DuBridge, President, California Institute of Technology
  • Ralph Ellison, Author
  • John S. Hayes, United States Ambassador to Switzerland
  • David D. Henry, President, University of Illinois
  • Oveta Culp Hobby, Chairman of the Board, Houston Post Company
  • J.C. Kellam, President, Texas Broadcasting Corporation [Austin broadcaster owned by the Johnson family]
  • Edwin H. Land, President, Polaroid Corporation
  • Joseph H. McConnell, President, Reynolds Metals Company
  • Franklin Patterson, President, Hampshire College
  • Terry Sanford, Former Governor of North Carolina
  • Robert Saudek, Robert Saudek Associates, Inc. [producer of Omnibus]
  • Rudolph Serkin, Concert Pianist
  • Leonard Woodstock, Vice President, United Automobile Workers of America
  • James R. Killian, Jr., Chairman [of the Commission and] Chairman of the Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This Report of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television is addressed to the American people.

The Commission has been sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and its study financed by that foundation. The Commission was asked to “conduct a broadly conceived study of noncommercial television” and to “focus its attention principally, although not exclusively, on community-owned channels and their services to the general public. . . . The Commission will recommend lines along which noncommercial television stations might most usefully develop during the years ahead.”

It was made clear to the Commission from the outset that within the general framework of its charge from the Carnegie Corporation it was free to set its own terms of reference and to operate wholly under its own direction. The Commission reports, therefore, as an independent group, solely responsible for its conclusions and recommendations.

In a letter endorsing the general objectives of the Commission, President Lyndon B. Johnson wrote: “From our beginnings as a nation we have recognized that our security depends upon the enlightenment of our people; that our freedom depends on the communication of many ideas through many channels. I believe that educational television has an important future in the United States and throughout the world. . . . I look forward with great interest to the judgments which this Commission will offer.”

The stimulus for the formation of the Commission was provided in December 1964 at a conference convened by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters in cooperation with the United States Office of Education. At that conference, Mr. Ralph Lowell of Boston, after discussion with his associates at the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council, proposed the establishment of a commission to study the financial needs of educational television and the manner in which they might be met; a formal proposal for the establishment of such a commission was then drawn up by Mr. Lowell and Mr. C. Scott Fletcher of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. The interest of John W. Gardner, then President of the Carnegie Corporation and now Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, was immediately engaged, and his efforts, together with those of Alan Pifer, then Vice President and now Acting President of the Carnegie Corporation, led to the creation of the Commission.

Throughout the course of our inquiry we have called upon many persons for their guidance and help; not once were we refused. No door was closed to the Commission’s questions. A sense of importance and urgency was expressed by those who made contributions to our work. We can only conclude that there exists a widespread conviction that the tasks set before the Commission are widely viewed as of high priority.

During the year in which the Commission was intensively engaged in its study, eight formal meetings of the Commission were held, occupying a total of twenty-eight days. Smaller groups of Commissioners met from time to time between meetings, and consultations between the staff and members of the Commission were frequent. A high degree of commitment on the part of all its members was apparent to the Commission from the beginning to the end of the study.

Altogether, more than two hundred and twenty-five individuals and organizations have expressed themselves to

the Commission, either by appearance before the Commission and its staff or in writing. Members of the Commission, its staff, or its correspondents have visited, in all, ninety-two educational television stations in thirty-five states, as well as the television systems of seven foreign countries. Those visits, and in particular the visits conducted within the United States, have provided for the Commission a body of information on educational television which is unique in both its scope and its quality.

We have conducted statistical surveys with the unstinting cooperation of all the educational television stations and state educational television commissions. We have been assisted by memoranda, articles, and studies from many sources, notably the growing literature on educational television.

During the summer of 1966, a conference was held at Endicott House in Dedham, Massachusetts, attended by thirty representatives of educational television, commercial television, and allied fields. Discussions on manpower, programming, financing, and instructional television were conducted by the conference.

An extensive study of model cost and system structures for educational television and Public Television was conducted on behalf of the Commission by Arthur D. Little, Inc., and proved very helpful to the Commission in the preparation of the cost estimates which will be found in the Report.

Some of the papers prepared for the consideration of the Commission and which appear to be of general interest or to have reference value are presented in the supplement to this Report. The Commission’s own Report, which, in the final volume, precedes those papers, expresses views and conclusions that are sometimes in accord and sometimes at variance with those of the authors of the papers. Our Report is based entirely upon our own judgments and our own conclusions, which were often assisted but at no time determined by material prepared by others.

Our work has been ably supported at every stage by a devoted staff: Dr. Hyman H. Goldin, Executive Secretary; Mr. Stephen White, Assistant to the Chairman; Mr. Gregory G. Harney; Mr. Edward Weeks; and Mrs. Joan Cummings Solomon — all have given themselves unsparingly throughout the Commission’s existence. We also appreciate the assistance of Mrs. Marcia C. Mather, Mrs. Maxine B. Oldenburg, Miss Frances Crawford, Miss Jane Sauer, and Miss Ruth Smith.

Both the Commission and the staff received invaluable assistance and counsel from consultants to the Commission. Because of their sustained participation, we note with special gratitude the professional services of Professor Sidney Alexander, economist; Dr. Mark Harris, author and teacher; Professor Albert G. Hill, physicist; Mr. Ernest W. Jennes, legal counsel; Mr. Donald C. MacLellan, physicist; and Mr. Charles Theodore, electronics engineer. In preparing its Report for publication, the Commission has been assisted and advised by Mr. Thomas R. Carskadon, Mr. Osgood Nichols, and Mr. John E. Woodman, Jr. We also note with gratitude the assistance of Mr. Arthur Singer, Executive Associate, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, who helped organize the study and served as its liaison with the Carnegie Corporation.

A complete listing of all persons and organizations that have contributed to the preparation of this Report will be found elsewhere in these pages. To all of them we express our deep indebtedness.

Upon his full-time assumption of the presidency of Hampshire College on June 1, 1966, Dr. Franklin Patterson relinquished his duties as Staff Director, but fortunately has continued as a member of the Commission. His responsibilities as Director were assumed by Dr. Goldin.

Mr. John S. Hayes resigned as a member of the Commission on October 1, 1966, after his appointment as Ambassador to Switzerland. His participation was extremely valuable. He was with the Commission long enough to have helped shape its principal conclusions and recommendations. We are happy that he joins all the other Commissioners in signing this Report.

The members of the Commission count it a privilege to have shared in this study.


Introductory Note: What Public Television Is

The system of noncommercial television in the United States has come to be known as educational television. This system includes (a) more than 120 stations which are owned and operated by educational institutions or other nonprofit educational organizations and which carry no advertising; and (b) National Educational Television (NET), a nonprofit organization which provides most of the more ambitious programming and with which most of the stations are affiliated.

The Commission has separated educational television programming into two parts: (1) instructional television, directed at students in the classroom or otherwise in the general context of formal education, and (2) what we shall call Public Television, which is directed at the general community.

All television, commercial television included, provides news, entertainment, and instruction; all television teaches about places, people, animals, politics, crime, science. Yet the differences are clear. Commercial television seeks to capture the large audience; it relies mainly upon the desire to relax and to he entertained. Instructional television lies at the opposite end of the scale; it calls upon the instinct to work, build, learn, and improve, and asks the viewer to take on responsibilities in return for a later reward. Public Television, to which the Commission has devoted its major attention, includes all that is of human interest and importance which is not at the moment appropriate or available for support by advertising, and which is not arranged for formal instruction.

Source: Scanned from the commission’s report with permission from the Carnegie Corp. of New York

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