Bythe National Telecommunications and Information Administration |
A major part of OTP’s activity in 1971 involved the development of a long-term financing bill for CPB. However, because of disagreements with CPB over details of the draft “Public Telecommunications Financing Act of 1971” and the Administration’s displeasure with public broadcasting’s news and public affairs programming, the Administration did not submit a CPB funding bill to Congress that year. On April 13, Flanigan and Whitehead, now OTP Director, met in Flanigan’s office with CPB Directors Cole and Wrather, both of whom had been appointed to the Corporation Board by President Nixon. The meeting was an outgrowth of Flanigan’s and Whitehead’s correspondence with Cole, dating from November 9, 1970, when Flanigan wrote to Cole complaining about the NET documentary “Banks and the Poor.” On March 15, Flanigan sent Whitehead a memo which said:
Regarding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, we discussed having a meeting of our directors to determine where we go from here with the Corporation.
In 1973, CPB negotiated an agreement with the PBS defining the relationship between the two organizations with respect to program control, operation of the public television interconnection, and support of local stations. When the CPB Board voted to defer action on a draft of the agreement which representatives of the two organizations had worked out, CPB Chairman Curtis resigned, alleging improper White House interference in the negotiations process. Six weeks after Curtis’ resignation, the CPB Board approved the “Partnership Agreement” with PBS. Following Curtis’ resignation and ratification of the Agreement, Whitehead recommended a shift in the Administration’s approach toward public broadcasting. On January 6, four days prior toCPB’s first board meeting of 1973, Whitehead, Goldberg, and Lamb had lunch with CPB General Counsel Tom Gherardi.
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 Richard Nixon veto funding for public broadcasting. In the wake of Nixon’s veto, Frank Pace Jr. and John 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 Jan.
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.
Bythe National Association of Educational Broadcasters |
These memos 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.