Educational Television and the Public Interest
Challenge of New Medium to Education
Action by the Federal Communications Commission after public hearings scheduled for the second week in July may have profound effects on the future of American education. On the basis of testimony presented at the hearings, the commission will decide whether to go ahead with its present plan to lift the two-year “freeze” on new television stations and allocate about 10 per cent of the proposed additional TV channels for use by noncommercial educational stations.
Most educators agree with F.C.C. Commissioner Frieda Hennock that “television can bring about as great an expansion and revitalization of education as did the development of printing in the early days of the Renaissance.” Many doubt, however, that 10 per cent of the available channels will permit adequate use of the new medium for educational purposes. The television industry does not oppose educational stations but its representatives have objected to reserving channels for educational agencies before they are in position to use them.
Public response to telecasting of major events during the last twelve months has gone far to dispel skepticism about the educational-informational potentialities of television. In the weeks after the outbreak of war in Korea, in June 1950, several million persons watched the televised proceedings of the United Nations Security Council. An estimated 20 million to 30 million viewed telecasts of the Kefauver committee's crime hearings in New York, Washington, and other cities. Over 18 million persons are believed to have watched the live telecast of Gen. MacArthur's address to Congress in April and millions more saw it rebroadcast from film.