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COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM, INC.,
New York, N.Y., August 26, 1954. Caution: For release in morning papers of Friday, August 27 and thereafter
(The following is the text of the CBS Editorial to be delivered by Dr. Frank Stanton, CBS president, at 8 o'clock tonight, Thursday, Aug. 26, over CBS Television, and at 10:15 P.M. over CBS Radio)
Good evening. This is to be a CBS Editorial. I am Frank Stanton, President of the Columbia Broadcasting System, and I am speaking for CBS. In accord with our policy of fairness and balance in the discussion of public issues and at our invitation, Judge Harold R. Medina, who disagrees with our point of view, will appear one week from tonight at this same time over these facilities.
On next Tuesday, August 31, in Washington, D.C., an historical event will take place: A special six-man committee of the Senate will open hearings on the resolution to censure Senator McCarthy. This will be the first time in over two decades that the issue of censuring a Senator will be before the Senate.
Reporters will be there. A small number of other people who happen to live in Washington or can afford to journey to our capitol and can squeeze into the hearing room will be there.
But you of the radio and television audience will not be there. This is because it has been ruled that although the hearings are open, radio and television and hence you listeners and viewers-may not enter. You will be barred from hearing and seeing part or all of these proceedings in your own homes. This means that you can learn about these proceedings by reading what somebody has written about them or by listening to what somebody says about them. But you cannot hear them and see them firsthand over radio and television for yourselves.
That is why I am here this evening. We at CBS, and we think all broadcasters, believe that this prohibition hurts you. We believe that the ruling is wrong and raises some very fundamental issues.
Radio and television comprise the newest kind of journalism-electronic journalism, which is a vital part of the press and thus its freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution. By bringing the governmental processes back from Washington to the people themselves, wherever they may be, electronic journalism is playing an important part in permitting a citizen to exercise his basic right to be informed-to know what is going on.
Radio and television, by letting people see and hear for themselves-by having enlarged the hearing room, so to speak-have greatly quickened the people's interest in, and knowledge of, the governmental processes. In that way, radio and television are contributing to a better government because as James Madison long ago said, "A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”
Yet this rule which would keep you out on these hearings turns its back on the contributions which electronic journalism can make. It shuts off your radio speakers and darkens your television screens and commands "Thou shall not hear or see."
This is a drastic prohibition. We believe that those who support it have a very heavy burden in trying to establish that the evils of radio and television coverage are so great that they justify keeping you from seeing your government in action. They have failed to establish that there are such evils.
We do not think that this ban arises from bad faith. We think rather that as far as legislative hearings are concerned, the ban comes because of confusion and misunderstanding arising out of the fact that radio and television coverage are still something of a novelty. Legislators and others are not quite used to radio and television and have not yet learned to accept them for what they are.
This is no different historically from what happened to the press itself. The legislatures in the early days of American history did not open their debates to the public. In the first sessions of Congress the presence of newspaper reporters was either forbidden or allowed without official recognition. It was not until 1794 that newspaper correspondents were admitted to the galleries of the Senate. Even as late as 1841, the Senate attempted to limit coverage of its proceedings to one official group of reporters, excluding all others. I am sure that many of the same reasons were advanced then for keeping out newspaper reporters that are advanced now for keeping out radio and television. I am sure that there were those who argued that the presence of newspaper reporters whose words were read by millions of people, created distractions, prevented the orderly conduct of business, and caused the legislators to think less about the business at hand than to think, literally, of "playing to the galleries."
Similarly, today's arguments against broadcasting coverage of legislative hearings just don't hold water.
The first argument is that radio and television encourage spectacles, create a circus atmosphere, cause legislators and other participants to misbehave and generally rob the hearings of a "judicial atmosphere."
Let us get the facts straight. These are not judicial court proceedings. These are proceedings of the legislators-our elected representatives-engaged in the public business of making laws directly affecting you and me. Issues as far reaching and as grave as this are most certainly our business.
After all, radio and television hear and see exactly what happens. They don't create spectacles or circuses. They don't compel people to show off or misbehave. They are the public's mirrors reflecting things exactly as they are. To blame radio and television for blemishes or excesses makes no more sense than to blame a mirror because you do not like the reflection which you see in it.
We would remind those who say that radio and television are responsible for circuses and spectacles that the midget sat on J. P. Morgan's knee during a Senate hearing long before there were any television cameras around. And if legislators find it impossible to behave themselves or measure up to their obligations when the public is looking in, the remedy is not to bar the public. Once the public has had an opportunity to see and hear for itself, we think that we can count on the public to reach its own conclusion.
The second main argument against radio and television coverage is that physically they are obtrusive, noisy and disturbing and that they create a disorderly atmosphere in which it is hard to concentrate and hard to tell the truth.
Let us just examine that claim for a few moments.
First, there are already a number of distractions wholly apart from radio and television. Forget radio and television for the moment and consider what a witness at a legislative hearing faces. The chances are he has been given a subpoenawhich in itself can be a rather disturbing experience. He must face the crowds in the hearing rooms, the dozens and sometimes hundreds of reporters coming in and out; he must face the microphones of the public address system, the blinding flash bulbs of photographers, the questions of counsel and committee members, and the knowledge that what he says and how he looks will be spread across the land for millions to see.
Add radio and television to all this, and there is only one more element. But it is not an obtrusive one. Let me show you what is involved.
There are five different ways of covering legislative hearings for broadcasting purposes.
One way is by live radio coverage that is, broadcasting the proceedings exactly as they occur and at the time they occur. This involves absolutely no additional equipment or personnel in the hearing room. The microphones which are used for the public address system are enough to pick up the sound for radio. Physically, there is absolutely no difference in a hearing room which is being covered by live radio broadcasting and one which is not.
Exactly the same is true of the second method of radio broadcasting—tape recording. Such broadcasts at a later time can air either the entire proceedings the way that they occurred or only the most interesting or important parts. The process is precisely the same except that wherever the telephone wires bring the sound, a tape recorder takes it down many miles from the hearing room.
Now about television: One way to cover a hearing by television is by live broadcast—that is, to use live television cameras in the hearing room and pick up the hearings as they occur. As in the case of radio, these hearings can be, and often are covered by networks on a pooled basis so that a total of only two or at most three live cameras are necessary for all the networks.
Each camera has one cameraman. A single camera set-up, consisting of one cameraman and one camera, requires space about equal to the space needed by two newspaper reporters. By using special lenses the cameras can be located in the rear of the room and a partition or screen can shield the cameras so that the participants will hardly be aware of their presence. There is no additional noise
understood, there are no hot and glaring lights for live television coverage. Ordinary room lights found in the rooms where legislative hearings take place have been demonstrated to be sufficient. As far as the sound or voice part of television is concerned, it is the same as for radio-nothing need be added to the hearing
room. Thus, as far as live television coverage is concerned, there is no justification for a ban based on extra space, extra noise or extra lighting, because there are none.
The same is true for the second method of television coverage-what we call kinescoping or television recording. This is accomplished by covering the hearings in their entirety as they occur with live cameras as I have just described. The pictures are then transmitted to New York where they appear on a picture tube from which in turn they are photographed on film. At a later time, this television recording can then either be broadcast in its entirety or it can be edited to include only the most important parts for later broadcast. Obviously, this method presents no more problems in the way of noise, lighting or space than does live coverage, since the method of taking pictures in the hearing room is precisely the same.
And I would like to point out to those who say that this kind of television detracts from the decorum and dignity of the proceedings that the British Coronation and religious ceremonies inside churches have been televised in this way without disturbing the solemnity of the occasion.
Now we come to the third method of coverage for television broadcasting. This is the method which uses regular film cameras, not electronic television cameras, to make pictures for later broadcast. Here it is true that in the present state of the art—which we believe will be only temporary-some extra lights are necessary and there is some noise which comes from the operation of the film camera.
But let me make it perfectly clear first, that whatever disadvantages there are arising from this method can hardly be used as an excuse for prohibiting the first four methods, and second, in any event these difficulties involving film cameras are not anything which television has added. Broadcasters use the same film cameras which the newsreels have used for many years. Newsreel cameras have been allowed to cover legislative hearings in the past-before television came along. So whatever distractions film cameras might cause, the Congress seems to have lived with them in the past.
In fact, during the last 15 months, CBS News has on some 85 different occasions covered Congressional hearings by film camera, yet there was no outcry and no great difficulty. If the disturbance caused by film cameras were as bad as some people would have you believe, it seems to me that they would have been banned from legislative hearings long ago—yet their presence was taken for granted.
And as in the case of live television coverage, I would call to your attention that film cameras have, without intruding, covered such solemn events as the memorial services for Senator Taft in the rotunda of the Capitol and the consecration of a Bishop at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
So much for the technical details. At this point we want to emphasize that the right to cover legislative hearings for broadcasting necessarily carries with it the freedom of choice as to what method of radio or television coverage to use. The form of coverage must depend on the circumstances. Nobody would suggest that newspapers should be deprived of the right to cover legislative proceedings simply because a few of them sometimes choose to print the entire testimony while most others print only summaries. All we ask is the same choice for radio and television.
But it is not the broadcasting industry's interest in this matter which concerns me chiefly this evening. The larger issue raised by the Senate committee ruling transcends personal considerations, whether yours or mine.
This is a complicated world in which we live and there are many difficult problems that all of us must face and do our share to resolve. That is part of our privilege of citizenship.
But if you and I are to help make this a more orderly, peaceful and happy world, we must first have the facts on which we can base intelligent action. In a democracy our best protection against the uncertainties of the future is that we know what is going on, that we are informed. It is the informed people which in the long run makes the wise decision and reaches the sensible conclusion.
I can only leave it to your own judgment whether some of the events which television and radio have covered in their own way-the explosion of the hydrogen bomb, the national political conventions, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and the Army-McCarthy hearings have contributed to your personal awareness and understanding of history in the making. I believe they have.
But radio and television cannot continue to play their rightful role in electronic journalism if they are not allowed to do so. We at CBS earnestly believe that in
these times any means of communication which can help bring light, stimulus and knowledge to the minds of men must be kept free and open to all points of view.
It is for this reason that we at CBS ask your support in our efforts to lift the curtain of silence that has descended on the forthcoming hearings. We ask the committee itself to reconsider its ruling against radio and television so that you, sitting in your own home, always may exercise one of your most precious rights: the right to be informed.
Subject: TV in the Senate
A couple of years ago when I was a reporter and didn't express opinions, I was covering a debate in the New York State Senate and a flashbulb suddenly went off in the balcony.
There was a moment of stunned silence, then former Senator Walter Mahoney, majority leader at the time, jumped to his feet and with a fierce bellow demanded to know who had taken a photograph in the Senate.
Well, the guards quickly found the offender, and it wasn't some enterprising newspaper photographer who had sneaked a camera in. It was a terrified kid who was trying to get something to show the folks back home. In an unfortunately painful way, the young fellow learned of the existence of a very sacred Senate rule: Senators are not to be photographed while conducting the public's business.
I tell you this story as background to a little noticed development that has occurred. The new majority leader in the Senate, Earl Brydges, has for the first time given permission for newsfilm cameras to record portions of a Senate debate.
We are pleased with this opportunity to better tell you the story of your government. And we are pleased too that the broader cause the public's right to knowhas advanced. It's a small but significant step and demonstrates a progressive attitude in the New York State Senate, an attitude that the State Assembly has been displaying for several years. We hope this first step will lead to a policy of full access to Senate procedures.
We hope too that the New York City Council will take a cue from the State Legislature and permit newsfilm cameras to record Council sessions.
KMOX RADIO EDITORIAL KMOX Radio editorials represent the views of the station's management and are primarily for the purpose of stimulating public discussion. Since our editorials generally deal with matters of public interest in the KMOX Radio area, we recognize that there will be those with differing points of view and we will be glad to consider requests for time to express views which differ from this editorial. It is the policy of KMOX Radio to maintain fairness and balance in the presentation of public issues of importance to the community. We welcome any comments you may have.
General Manager KMOX.
THE RIGHT TO KNOW
The broadcast you just heard from Jefferson City concerned radio and television coverage of our state legislature. It was of vital importance to us in broadcasting. And it was of even greater importance to you ... the citizen.
The issue discussed at the hearing is a simple one ... freedom of information. Your right to know what is happening in your city, your state and your nation. Our right to help you know
Although the issue of freedom of information is simple ... the fight to win and hold this freedom has been long and complex. In fact, that fight has been waged for centuries by our colleagues in print journalism ... the reporters and editors of newspapers and magazines. We in broadcasting are latecomers in the field of news ... electronic journalism is only decades old.
We have inherited the legacy of freedom won by those in print journalism in the Western World ... and still being fought in nations and on continents where freedom of speech is yet to be won. But broadcasters still have battles of their own to fight ... because broadcasting brings new dimensions to the public ... the dimension of the event as it takes place ... and the dimension of personality.
With the advent of broadcasting, for the first time, the citizen can judge for himself ... without a reporter as middleman ... the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of public servants and the import of public events.
At KMOX Radio, we are committed and dedicated to bringing the widest possible spectrum of information programming to the public. This includes our news broadcasts, our “At Your Service" programs, our public affairs special broadcasts and our broadcast editorials. In fact, KMOX Radio devotes more of its time to informative broadcasting than any other major radio station. We believe that the need and desire for information by the public as a whole is one of the strongest trends in our society and of our times ... a trend that is our great hope in securing our universal social goals of peace and prosperity. To provide information to the fullest extent of our ability as broadcasters therefore is the highest goal of KMOX Radio.
For this reason, KMOX cooperated with leaders of the previous legislature to obtain access for our microphones to House sessions. As our news director Rex Davis pointed out in his testimony you have just heard, the response from the public to these broadcasts was gratifying beyond our expectations.
The citizens of Missouri wanted to hear their legislature in action. They wanted to know more about their state government.
This is their right ... a right sacred under our form of government. For this reason, KMOX Radio will protest and dispute ... every attempt to divide, limit or eliminate this right ... or to set any conditions upon it.
We will protest censorship in any form ... no matter how mild, and whether or not the censorship is before or after the fact of broadcast.
The submission of recordings for approval by government officials is tantamount to the submission of newspaper proofs before the presses can role.
As responsible broadcasters, we pledge that KMOX Radio will use all the skills at its command to bring you, the listener, fair, balanced and complete reports of the public's business.
We also pledge that we will fight every effort ... no matter how well-intentioned ... to restrict us from presenting what you ... in our best judgment... should know.
The right to know ... access to information ... is basic to our free society. We intend to fight for that right.
KMOX-TV EDITORIAL-OPEN THE DOORS A bill that would require all public agencies to hold open meetings was the first measure filed for the 1973 session of the Missouri Senate. We think its position indicates its rightful priority.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. William J. Cason, the new Senate president pro tem.
It's a good start for Cason, who backed it up by going a step further. He said that even before the bill is passed, he will ask the Senate to open its committee records and meetings to the public. That's commendable.
It's also necessary in this age of credibility gaps and popular distrust of government that the open-meetings bill be passed by the 1973 legislature and signed into law by the governor.
Government behind closed doors is said by some to be the only efficient way to get anything done. This line of reasoning goes that officials can get down to business more quickly if they don't have a gallery of citizens watching them. They can also be more candid if they know they're not going to be quoted in the morning papers. Well, that kind of efficiency we can do without
The people have a right to know what's going on in their government. They have a right to know what's being said and who's saying it; what's being done and who's doing it. There can be no reason-none at all-that's good enough to take that right from the people.
This is a time for all our major institutions to be vigilant defenders of the public's right to know. A lot of public confidence has been lost. It will not be easy to win back. And without it, government will cease to function.
Measures like the open-meetings bill can at least fight the loss of confidence; they may, over the long run, even reverse it. We need such bills. We have a right to them.
Broadcast: Saturday, December 9, 1972.