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Representative DELLENBACK. That may be true of the ratings as well as the consideration to be given to the ratings, because it could be true that this would be public service, that those who really care would view, and perhaps beyond that it would not get broad coverage, but it really seems to me it is an important thing
Right now, we are in a crisis time. I ask you not to do it from the standpoint of reestablishing public confidence in the Congress.
I think what you ought to do is turn the spotlight on, and if you find that Congress is not doing the job, then it ought to come across the tube. It is important that that which is really being done be accurately reflected, so that the public understands that the Congress, this Congress, the Congress that is going to make their laws, is different than anything else that exists in the world, and it functions in a strange and wondrous way, remarkably effectively sometimes, remarkably ineffective in others.
I think there is nothing else like it. I think that that which goes across that tube is of massive importance today, and I would hope that your board and yourself and your executive officers would seriously consider what might beneficially be done in this area.
I thank you for being here, and for giving us the benefit of your answers.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I, of course, echo the concern that all of the members of my committee have expressed, and I want to ask you the same question I asked of Mr. Taylor, would ABC be willing to participate in a pool, if it were determined that perhaps we could have a permanent installation in the House or in the Senate, so that there would not be all of these extraneous cables and lights and so forth, that participate in a pool.
Mr. RULE. Senator, we would cooperate to our fullest in anyway to make the thing work.
Chairman METCALF. Do you see anything that would prevent actual coverage if such an installation were made? Would it inhibit you in your activities?
Mr. RULE. No, again, I think that there would have to be a workable formula, as has been mentioned in Mr. Stewart's report; the gavel-togavel aspect of coverage, I think is not only rather remote, it is completely impractical from most aspects.
I would think, and again Mr. Lynch and the other Washington bureau chiefs are going to address themselves to this, but I would think that if adequate space were made available in the gallery, and if camera positions could be found to be made stationary, that certainly there should be minimal interference with the orderly conduct of the daily proceedings in Congress.
I think that there will have to be a little trial and error, certainly there will have to be. I believe that we would approach it very positively from a standpoint that we would make it work, and under the conditions that would be most comfortable to Congress.
Chairman METCALF. You outlined a proposal which is admirable, to offer congressional leaders of both parties prime time at the beginning of each session for a state of the Union address for the Congress, and at the end of each session to sum up congressional accom
plishments for the year. Let me give you an example of the question this raises in my mind.
Mr. Nixon once went on television and very dramatically vetoed an appropriation bill.
Unfortunately, from my own standpoint, we were unable to override that veto.
Speaker Albert asked for an opportunity to explain that bill on television for the Democratic majority, and the Congress.
Now, you denied the Speaker the opportunity, at that time, to set forth the views of the Democratic majority. It is insufficient to provide time, just at the beginning of the year, so the leaders can describe what the Congress will attempt to accomplish, and then at the end of the year give them time to say, “This is what Congress has accomplished.”
When you give the President these very dramatic moments to actually veto an appropriation bill, with the people of the whole United States looking on, in prime time, and to get his views across, that is one thing.
Now, do you think it is equitable to permit the Congress only the opportunity to open discussion of the year's agenda and to close discussion a year later, while giving all of these special concessions to the Executive during the annual congressional session?
Mr. RULE. Senator, we do not say that that will be the exclusive coverage of Congress, those two proposals that we have made, the hour at the opening session and the hour at the closing session.
We feel, as we have, that it must become an individual judgment based on the importance, and whether it is mostly political, or mostly an issue that is nonpolitical. And, although we have attempted, and, I think, hopefully have achieved some sort of fair balance in that, this does not mean that a request for time would automatically be denied in that the hour before and the hour after would be the end of it all. Not at all.
Chairman METCALF. Well, I am not quarreling with what I think is an admirable offer. Certainly, whether we have a Democratic or Republican Congress, or Democratic or Republican administration, it seems to me that the Congress should be allowed in a state of the Union message to set forth its objectives, and its aspirations, at the beginning of each Congress. I think this is a good idea.
But, is it enough? Do you think it is enough when you give the President the kind of opportunities he has for access ?
Mr. RULE. No, I do not think that it is enough to say that we will give the Congress an hour at the opening and an hour at the closing of each session.
I think there are, and have been, and will be, opportunities for the expression of points of view in between that period, but specifically, I do not know how we relate, how I can say to you, other than that our news people, will, in their news judgment, determine whether or not and whomever should be given a right of response.
Chairman METCALF. Yes, that is another important question, and the answer is not easy to come by. Mr. RULE. No, they are not.
Chairman METCALF. There are very dramatic moments during the session for both the President and the Congress. It will be a very
dramatic moment if Congressman Brooks' Judiciary Committee brings in an impeachment resolution, and they call the roll in the House of Representatives.
I do not know whether that is going to happen, but it comes to mind as an example of what could be an important and dramatic moment, Certainly, Members of the House should be allowed to express themselves just as much as the attorneys for the President.
Well, you have been very helpful. It is an honor and a privilege to have you and Mr. Taylor, the heads of two great television networks, here to discuss some of these problems that are of mutual interest to both of us. I congratulate you on a splendid statement.
Mr. RULE. Thank you, sir. It is my pleasure.
Chairman METCALF. I have a statement from Mr. C. Edward Little, president of the Mutual Broadcasting System.
Mr. Little was invited to participate in this hearing. He was unable to come, but he has submitted a statement, and it will be incorporated in the record.
Our next witness is Mr. Henry Loomis, president, Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
We are privileged to have you here. You represent a fine network, which is a little different than commercial broadcasting.
It has other responsibilities, so we are delighted to have you appear and present another perspective and another point of view. Mr. Loomis, we look forward to your statement. HENRY LOOMIS, PRESIDENT, CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC
Henry Loomis, 54, has been president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting since October 1972. Prior to his appointment, he worked for 3 years as a deputy director of the United States Information Agency. Mr. Loomis, a 1941 graduate of Harvard College, also has worked with the White House, the Federal Departments of Defense and Health, Education, and Welfare, and two major universities.
Mr. LOOMIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations : My name is Henry Loomis, and I appear before you today as president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
I am here to support the proposition that radio and television, the most powerful media of communications today, be given access to the deliberations of the Congress on an equal footing with that of the press. In my opinion, this proposition which is before your committee is sound national policy.
I say this not because of a narrow interest in open access for the electronic media in which I work but because I believe that balanced and objective coverage of the democratic processes is a vital form of service to the people, a form of service specifically envisioned by the Congress when it passed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. During the Watergate hearings, public broadcasting demonstrated what it could contribute to the enlightenment of our citizens through gavelto-gavel coverage in prime evening hours, a service that was not economically feasible for the commercial networks to perform. We hope that the deliberations of this committee will produce reforms in both
the House and Senate that will enable us, through public television and radio, to bring the American people closer to all of the workings of the legislative branch of government. Such reforms would be a mighty contribution to the future of our democratic structure.
I shall make some specific proposals later in my testimony, but first let me briefly describe the functions of CPB.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a nonprofit, nongorernment corporation that promotes and helps finance the development of noncommercial radio and television.
The Corporation was established by Congress in 1967. The Public Broadcasting Act was based on recommendations made by the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television but also was enlarged to serve radio.
The Commission coined the name "public" to indicate that the system could and should be responsible to those needs of the American public which were not, or could not, be satisfied by commercial broadcasting.
Public broadcasting revolves around the local public broadcasting licensee. It is funded largely by State legislatures, universities, communities, foundations and contributions from the general public. Approximately 20 percent of the money spent on public broadcasting in the United States comes from the Federal Government.
CPB does not have any regulatory power over the local licensee. It does not produce programs but does acquire by grant or contract high quality television programs for distribution by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which the public stations, at their sole discretion and choice, may or may not decide to air at times selected by them. Most national programing is produced by public television stations.
For the purposes of distribution, the Corporation funds the Public Broadcasting Service, which manages the interconnection between local television stations. PBS is a membership organization for public television stations that distributes and promotes programs. Together we are responsible for funding, scheduling, and distributing programs nationally through an interconnection system. PBS also serves 244 member stations.
Public radio is organized differently than public television. National Public Radio (NPR) was established as the national programing and interconnection service for noncommercial radio. Unlike PBS, NPR does produce programs. It also distributes programs and manages the interconnection of its 163 member stations. NPR is supported principally by CPB funds.
Public broadcasting's newest national organization is the Association of Public Radio Stations. APRS was established in 1973 by the country's public radio stations for the purpose of representing their interests.
Although these organizations bear varying names and missions, the point should be made that public television and public radio exist for only one purpose—to serve the varied interest of all the people of this country. Public broadcasting does not belong to any one of us. It belongs to all of us.
Congress has not made a cohesive and concerted effort to employ all available techniques to communicate with the American people. I urge you to consider the unique capabilities of public broadcasting for this purpose.
The Congress has simply not permitted adequate access by the electronic media to its inner workings. While there are obvious merits to the conventional print media methods of communication, we must seek and eventually have additional mechanisms for providing information to the public regarding their government. Radio and television have the potential to bring new life and spirit to public affairs pro. graming to a degree we never dreamed possible a few years ago. Public affairs programing is a vital ingredient of public radio and television.
We are in a period where confidence in the governmental process at all levels is at a low ebb. One of the major reasons for this is that as government has become more complicated it has also become more remote, and the citizenry has become less involved.
By allowing the public to virtually "sit in” on debates, hearings, and other facets of the legislative process, people can be motivated to participate in helping to make our Government function better. Perhaps if we have access to the material for the broadcast of indepth specials and documentaries some of the lost confidence can be restored. The great potential of public broadcasting is that it offers each citizen the opportunity to participate-even though vicariously—in the making of national legislative policy.
Public radio and public television also have the advantage of not being rigidly scheduled so that prime time offering of a full coverage event or a lengthy special on an important subject is possible. This flexibility is one of the greatest assets of public broadcasting—to bring important and timely matters to the public when they can watch and listen.
The time has come for us, the communicators, and you, the legislators, to close the gap of misunderstanding between the public and its elected representatives.
Speaking at the Harvard University symposium last year, my colleague Hartford Gunn, president of the Public Broadcasting Service, appealed to Congress to permit television coverage of regular floor debates. He placed the responsibility on both the media and Congress for the failure of Congress to communicate with the people.
It is encouraging to see that these hearings have been called to explore some of the avenues that might be employed to improve the capability of Congress to reach American people with its views and decisions.
This subject matter ties precisely into what public broadcasting is trying to do in the area of public affairs programing. While we cannot resolve the question of competition between the executive and legislative branches over the issue of access to the media, our first goal is to provide a service to the public that permits the American electorate to better understand the institutional role of Congress. The first step is to get the public involved in an issue and thus in the congressional mechanism for deciding it The issues and points of view are the important vehicle. A second goal is to provide a way for the viewer or listener to have an opportunity to see and hear the views of his elected representative on the issues.