Title Program for the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
Creator Executive Branch, U.S. Government
Date November 7, 1967
Source Program, the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, 11/7/67, “November 10-12, 1967, Veterans Day Weekend, Trip to Military Installations,” President’s Appointment File [Diary Backup], Box 82, LBJ Library.
Credit Digitized by Liza Talbot, LBJ Library
Transcription The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967:
• Creates a Corporation for Public Broadcasting headed by a 15-man Board of Directors to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
• Authorizes $9 million for the Corporation to spend on grants to local noncommercial television and radio stations, with the funds to remain available until used and a limit of $250,000 to any one station or any one project.
• Extends for 3 years the construction program which built 92 new noncommercial television stations, increasing the potential viewing audience almost 50 percent to 155 million people.
• Increases the Federal share of broadcast station construction cost from 50 to 75 percent, and approves, for the first time, Federal support for the construction of noncommercial radio as well as television facilities.
• Authorizes, subject to appropriation, $10.5 million in construction funds for fiscal 1968, $12.5 million for fiscal 1969, and $15 million for fiscal 1970.
• Authorizes $500,000 for a comprehensive study of school uses of television, radio, and allied electronic instructional media. The study is to be conducted by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and is to be presented to Congress by June 30, 1969.
There are now 144 noncommercial television stations on the air, with 38 more under construction, and there are 346 noncommercial radio stations in existence. Four out of five of the television stations received help under the 1962 Act. By 1980, there will be an estimated 377 noncommercial television stations in operation reaching an estimated 94 percent of the people.
With every year that passes American are becoming more aware of the world in which they live, and more aware of the arts. There have been steady increases in the number of people attending concerts, visiting museums, participating in musical and theatrical groups, and taking an active interest in public affairs—and this suggest that there are million of Americans who would welcome a kind of program not regularly available on commercial television. Under the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, programs of the highest quality can be brought into the American home.
[signed] John W. Gardner
John W. Gardner, Secretary,
Health, Education, and Welfare.
“Noncommercial television can bring its audiences the excitement of excellent in every field. I am convinced that a vital and self-sufficient noncommercial television system will not only instruct, but inspire and uplift our people.”
—President Lyndon B. Johnson
The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
Progress in Public Television
“The one changeless ingredient that makes for excellence in all media is talented people. Each medium—theater or books, art, motion pictures, or broadcasting—achieves greatness to the degree that it engages the interest of gifted people. But such people will not to public television as a medium if they cannot be assured of the production support needed to turn an idea into a visually exciting program.”
—John W. Gardner
For most Americans, watching television and listening to the radio has become a way of life. The average American spends one-fourth of his waking hours watching television, but what he sees does not often enough reach the level of excellence which should govern the programs of such a powerful medium. Commercial television and radio occasionally give us creative, stimulating and educational programs—which serve as a glimpse of a magnificent potential and leave many Americans wondering why some stations, at least, should not continually offer programs which are as good as commercial broadcasting at its best.
Commercial television, however, is governed by the need to reach a mass audience, not the ideal of excellence. To achieve the great potential of television, what is needed is a new approach to broadcasting designed and operated to portray the awesome, diverse, kaleidoscopic panorama that is the human experience.
In 1951, the Federal Communication Commis-
“We have only begun to grasp the great promise of this medium. . . . Clearly, the time has come to build on the experience of the past fourteen years . . .”
President Lyndon B. Johnson
sion set aside the first 242 television channels for noncommercial broadcasting, and the first noncommercial TV station went on the air in 1953. The Educational Television Facilities Act of 1962 authorized Federal assistance for the construction of towers, transmitters, and other facilities to be used by noncommercial television stations. In its 5 years of supporting ETV construction authorized by the 1962 Act, the Federal Government has provided $32 million to help construct noncommercial television facilities.
But setting aside the channels and constructing the stations do not by themselves assure us of the finest in broadcasting. President Johnson recognized this when he proposed in his 1967 Health and Education Message to Congress that an independent corporation he created to provide operating and program support for noncommercial television and radio. The Carnegie Commission’s landmark study of public television focused further attention on this need.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
“Americans can know themselves, their communities, and their world in richer ways. . . . They can gain a fuller awareness of the wonder and the variety of the arts, the sciences, scholarship and craftmanship, and of the many roads along which the product of man’s mind and man’s hands can be encountered.”
—Dr. James Killian
Chairman, Carnegie Commission
To develop the great potential of noncommercial television and radio, the 90th Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. It is the hope of the men who developed and supported this Act that noncommercial broadcasting will give each home the opportunity to be a center for learning where knowledge and scholarship are informally and expertly available.
Achieving the great potential of public broadcasting will be the responsibility of a nonprofit, federally chartered Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Corporation is to be headed by a 15-man Board of Directors to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
To guarantee the complete independence and nonpartisan nature of the Corporation, the Board of Directors will not be employees of the Federal Government but eminent citizens appointed for staggered, 6-year terms. The Corporation is prohibited by law from owning or operating any station, system, or network. Local stations have complete freedom to accept or reject the programs produced by the Corporation. Not more than eight members of the Board of Directors will be of the same political part and the Corporation is prohibited from engaging in any form of political activity. Programs on controversial subjects must be objective and stations are prohibited from editorializing or supporting or opposing any candidate for political office.
Funds for Improved Programs
“Noncommercial radio and television in America, even though supported by Federal funds, must be absolutely free from any Federal Government interference over programming.”
—President Lyndon B. Johnson
The Act authorizes $9 million to be appropriated in the first year for the Corporation to spend on grants to local noncommercial television and radio stations, to program production groups, and to educational networks for the production and development of program sand interconnection of stations for simultaneous broadcasting. Proposal for long-range financing will be submitted next year by the President. When funds are appropriated, the Corporation can begin immediately to elevate the quality of noncommercial television and radio programs.