The next ten years of TV
What’s ahead in television? Will color sets be cheap? How many will you own? Will you drive with one? Will you get programs from Europe? Are six-hour shows on the way? Here are the up-to-date forecasts
PORTABLE TV Sets about as big as picnic hampers will run by battery with a flat screen in the lid.
EDUCATIONAL TV Lectures will be piped right from classroom to pupils who can save them up on videotape.
TELEPHONE TV You'll see who you're talking to on a midget screen with an anti-peep switch for privacy.
PICTURE-FRAME TV You'll hang it on the wall— any size you want. For crowds there will be billboard sets.
You'll build it into a wall, ceiling or the foot of a bed and run it by remote control.
Films on magnetic tape will show up on your home screen, along with homemade movies.
PERSONAL TV You'll plug it in your office lamp or the kitchen stove and carry it wherever you may go.
It's feasible but dangerous. Reception is bad and in some U. S. areas it's also illegal.
Now that every second family in Canada owns a TV set of some kind—a good rousing sta-tistic that represents $750 million worth of equip-ment and two million homes—experts, performers and viewers alike are beginning to ask some searching questions about the future of IV. Where does television go from here? What lies ahead lor this precocious, powerful, pervasive new medium?
There is no doubt about television's impact in the last ten years. A decade ago a scant handful of experimental receivers existed. Today, fifty million sets are in use throughout the world. In the U. S. where nine out of ten families have a set. consumers have forked over close to twenty billion dollars. TV. among other things, has made a U. S. president hire a movie-star adviser, milked dry a platoon of comedians, broken homes, mended homes, brought back the tea wagon, and turned “spectacular" into a noun.
But what about television's impact in the next ten years?
A hint was given last May during a pep talk to the Ontario Radio and Appliance Dealers Association by Dan D. Halpin. Halpin was general sales manager at the time of Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Television-Radio Division) and he w-as talking about "penetration."
"Americans today,” he claimed, "are no longer content with one or even two television sets in the home. They are retaining their old sets instead of trading them in when they buy a newone. One of my friends owns six television sets."
"That.” Halpin said happily, “is penetration.” And he added: "Can you visualize the tomorrow when penetration begins to take hold in this country?”
Aside from six sets to be installed, willy-nilly, in every home, what is the tomorrowof television? Here, according to the latest advices from research laboratories, set manufacturers, market experts, program directors, dreamers and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, are some of the predictions:
► By 1965 there will be four million TV sets in Canada and eighty-five million in the U. S.
► Fifty to sixty percent of all sets in use will be color sets.
► All programming in major cities and on networks will be in color, whether live or on tape.
► Your television screen will hang on the wall like a mirror. It will be a fiat rectangular television tube, and you'll be able to buy it in any size you fancy and hang it anywhere. Conceivably you could fasten it to the bathroom ceiling.
► The controls will be mounted in a box you can keep beside your chair (or bathtub) or carry from room to room. (Zenith Radio Corporation is already on the market with a portable “spacecommand” control box for sets; it includes a switch for silencing commercials.)
► The price will probably steady at two hundred to three hundred dollars w-ith smaller sets available at less than a hundred and custom-made sets up to any conceivable top.
► You'll be able to get small, cheap, transistorized “personal" sets to plug in—(a) on your office desk (for news-followers and World Series truants); (b) on your night table (for invalids, Late Show addicts, insomniacs and anyone who sleeps alone and wants company); (c) on the kitchen table (to solace the housewife at her chores, to replace the morning newspaper and to give a fresh twist to jokes about preoccupied husbands at breakfast).
Who’s going to pay?
So far the televiewer’s been paying for his entertainment only by voluntary exposure to the advertiser’s message. Now it’s proposed he pay hard cash. In the U. S. this idea is causing such a rumpus that General David Sarnoff, chairman of RCA, urged that it be made an issue in the coming election. Three companies— Zenith Radio Corp., Skiatron Electronics and Paramount Pictures — are peddling fee-TV equipment. It operates on the principle of a scrambled signal that is unscrambled by a coin or a punch card.
In favor of pay-TV are the sports promoters, the film companies, sundry citizens who’d rather pay for their choice of show than hold still for any commercials —and the companies promoting the device. Spokesmen for these claim (a) advertisers can’t support all available channels or pay for super-spectaculars; (b) they won’t pay for educational or egghead programs.
Arthur Levey, president of Skiatron, points out that 200,000 viewers at fifty cents a head could make a cultural $100,000 program feasible under pay-TV; yet no sponsor would fork over $100,000 for a show with so small an audience.
Opponents include the networks, the theatre owners and sundry citizens who don't want to budget any more for entertainment. They argue the “tradition of the free air” and a version of Gresham's law that goes: subscriber money drives out advertising money. Frank Stanton, president of CBS, says. “Free-TV and fee-TV can’t exist side by side.”
The issue’s being aired in the U. S. by the Federal Communications Commission. but as yet it has come to no decision.
Meanwhile Skiatron may try its system out in Cuba; and in Canada the Association of Canadian Advertisers said to the Fowler Commission: "Should a feeTV system develop in the U. S. . . . the Canadian viewer would be in much the same position as a movie-goer in this country—with most of the entertainment and programs available being of nonCanadian origin. Further, with an established subscription-TV service in the United States, it is likely that many of the free programs now seen through CBC’s affiliations with American networks would be lost to Canadians.” ★
► You'll also be able to get batterypowered portables about the size and weight of picnic hampers. The lid will prop up to reveal a flat screen, and a retractable antenna will be part of the outfit.
► The servicing of a TV receiver, once the trouble had been localized, will be as simple as changing a light bulb.
► Black-and-white sets will continue to be sold in quantities for those who want the cheapest workable set they can get, or for those who want a second (or sixth) set. They'll be usable because compatible telecasting—transmissions in color that can be picked up either in color or in monochrome—will be universal.
► Colored antennae will be supplied with color TV sets: dealers, as usual, figure to cash in on keeping-up-with-theJoneses psychology.
► Television will have its version of the tape recorder, called videotape. With videotape you’ll be able to store color programs that catch your eye and play them back later on your TV set. Or— with a timing device of the sort now found on automatic stoves—you can set your recorder to catch a program scheduled for your absence. The record can be kept indefinitely, or erased so the tape can be re-used.
► If you’re willing to invest in a portable home TV camera, you'll use videotape to make home movies that can be screened on your TV set.
► Wives of ministers, actors and politicians will have more spare time: videotape will take over their time-honored task of watching rehearsals.
► As a variation on home movies, telephone-television will be a reality instead of a joke. It will be equipped with an anti-Peeping Tom switch.
When can Canada have color TV? Almost immediately, say experts—but where, asks CBC, is the money?
For all these electronic wonders a companion prediction can safely be made: people will ingest each new advance as automatically as a wedding guest eating another little sandwich while he goes on talking.
This will be so for two reasons. The first is that all these wonders are mere refinements on the basic—and already accepted—marvel of monochrome television. The second is that by the time the consumer has plunked down his money and taken his new toy home he’ll have been hearing about it for years. In fact, though the quaintest contrivances listed above won’t be in wide distribution for at least ten years, every one of them is already well past the blueprint stage. (What is on the blueprints now, the fiercely competitive set manufacturers are too canny to reveal; what will be on the blueprints ten years hence they can’t even hazard a guess.)
For instance, on Aug. 25 the first patent was granted to Dr. Pierre Toulon, a research engineer for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, for a flat television tube that will hang on the wall. (As an illustration of manufacturers’ coyness about their research: having learned that several firms were working toward mural television I asked a Westinghouse press officer about it two weeks before the patent grant. “Flat-tube TV?” he scoffed. “So far it's just a pipe dream.”) Dr. Toulon's invention permits very large viewing surfaces. For a picture face forty-two inches wide and thirty-four inches high, the over-all tube thickness is less than ten inches. Ultimately the inventor expects billboard sizes to be built for viewing by large crowds, but for home use the screen will probably be kept to the size ot a standard oil painting. Anything larger requires the audience to back off farther, for comfortable viewing, than the average family living room allows.
Almost simultaneously, the Bell Telephone Laboratories, tucked away in the wooded depths of New Jersey, unwrapped their Picture-phone. It permits people to see each other on a playing-card-sized screen while they talk on the telephone, provided they’ve both flipped off the attached anti-Peeping Tom switches. You’ll see your party best if you've backed off one or two feet from the screen and you can make sure he sees you by checking the position of your head and shoulders with a visual guide located beside the camera.
Videotape too—the magnetic TV tape recorder—is a reality and in limited use in the U. S.; and small personal TV sets, some as light as thirteen pounds and costing under a hundred dollars, are already on the market.
A good deal of the industry’s energy in the next ten years will be devoted simply to perfecting this basic equipment and penetrating the market with it.
Even if you end up with six sets as Hatpin. the Westinghouse sales manager, hopes, one place you’re not likely to have one is in your car. The idea has been tested, though, since it offers heady possibilities for keeping offspring quiet in the back seat on long drives. In many places television in the front seat where the driver can see it is illegal. But last June, Dorman Israel, executive vice-president of Emerson Radio and Phonograph Corporation, perched an 8Vi-inch set on the front seat of his car facing the rear, plugged it into his dashboard cigarette-lighter outlet, plucked out his “rabbit’s ears” antenna and set off through Westchester County.
So long as the car moved in a straight line, reception was good. But every swerve, passing truck or hill produced an alarming array of ghosts, or a blank screen. The experts agree that this interference in transit is almost impossible to lick.
Who sees color TV now?
As for color television: to all intents it’s an accomplished fact in the U. S. Two hundred thousand people have color sets. The major networks are telecasting an average of eighty hours of color a month and more than 175 stations arc equipped to handle colorcasts. Even the smallest of the three major U. S. networks—the American Broadcasting Company — has earmarked a ten-million-dollar reserve fund for color TV. (The CBC has budgeted fifteen hundred for research and development of color TV this year.)
Two and a half years ago the pioneer color models sold for a thousand dollars; last year they came down to around eight hundred, but at Christmas Consumer Reports, a U. S. buying guide, advised its readers: “Not yet.” It criticized the sets for color fringes (an effect similar to that of off-register four-color printing) and large off-color areas at the sides of the picture. Sales indicated that most consumers were obediently waiting till the sets got better—and cheaper.
This year, however, Philco has prepared a set to sell at $350 and RCA has introduced its 1956-57 line to start at $495. (The cheapest set available in Canada retails at about $745.) Other manufacturers are rapidly getting in line and all insist that the major bugs are licked. “The new instrument,” an RCA press release announced proudly this July, "provides the industry with a ‘backbone’ receiver.” Halpin, and others, are urging dealers to shift into overdrive on color sales.
As a result marketing experts figure that six hundred thousand color sets may be sold this year and at least a million in 1958 and that in five years one of every two sets sold will be a color model. In ten years it's expected that all major programming will be in color.
And in Canada? The U. S. timetable for set sales and programming could virtually be applied to Canada if the CBC were to give the go-ahead on color immediately. Last October a representative of RCA’s research division told a Toronto audience that any Canadian station could be modified to telecast in color in a couple of days for about one percent of its original investment and that, given a target date for the start of Canadian color programming, the industry would have receivers available at all dealers.
Last July an anonymous CBC official hinted that the CBC might start converting transmitters to color in 1957. But A. D. Dunton, CBC chairman, declines to be pinned down. “We don’t know where the money is coming from to finance even our present operation,” he says. The U. S. experience has been that color production costs about twenty-five percent more than monochrome.
The findings of the Royal Commission on Broadcasting, due to be brought down early in 1957, will undoubtedly influence the CBC schedule on color. In the meantime. Canadians who can’t do without will have to satisfy themselves by eavesdropping on U. S. colorcasts. But the probable impact of color is already evident, even to the Canadian consumer who hasn't a set. A whole new range of TV advertisers is being attracted: those whose products have to be seen in color to be appreciated. Makers of fabrics, paints and linoleums, for instance, are embarking for the first time on TV selling.
Furthermore, a wave of color consciousness is sweeping hitherto monochromatic areas of the mercantile world. Cars arc now as gaudy as racing silks; refrigerators arc rainbow-hued; so are razors; sheets come in every possible pastel, with pillow cases to match; the makers of Phil ip Morris cigarettes have redesigned their package to appeal to color TV audiences. Johnson Sea-Horse Outboard Motors. traditionally sea-horse green, are now Holiday Bronze. The gimmick is that, with color TV advertising, “color obsolescence” can become a telling argument for trading in last year’s model.
(In the polychromatic future, paradoxically, the last stand of the neutral shades may well be the family’s TV room: as any decorator knows, neutrals make the best settings for. showily colored objets d’art such as mural TV screens. However, if the family indulges in electronic home movies, the neutral may be shaded into a mild blue. Those to whom this development seems far-fetched would do well to consider the Democratic convention in Chicago this July where the traditional red-white-and-blue decor was booted out in favor of total blue bunting, seats, platform, rugs, guard walls, railings—because proceedings were being televised.)
Bootlegged across the border or not, these advances—mural TV, color, videotape home movies, telephone-TV—will be enjoyed by the Canadian consumer directly. Indirectly he will benefit by a whole range of new production equipment and techniques as well. Here are some examples:
► Delayed programs will be vastly better because of videotape. Kinescope, the present film method of recording, sidetracks the television signal through an emulsion. The detour shows up unmistakably in the quality of the image on the home screen. Videotape, by keeping the whole process electronic, can store and retransmit programs so they look as nearly live as to make no difference, has already ordered four videotape recorders, at $54,450 each, and will get delivery next June.
► Videotape will also solve a problem for the national sponsor who has paid for a colorcast at a preferred time across the continent. A live eastern telecast can be delayed the appropriate three hours until west-coast peak viewing time. Color film, by contrast, cannot be processed in time.
► Rehearsals will be videotaped. If a rehearsal clicks, the tape can be edited and used for the show itself. It will have the undoubted benefits of pruning, plus live quality and spontaneity. One U S. expert predicts that the editor will be the man most vital to any show.
► Because videotape is potentially cheaper than film, videotape libraries may eventually replace film libraries. In fact, electronic photography may well replace all other kinds.
► Colorcasts in the studio will be made without cameras and outside the studio an ingenious array of gadgets known as creepy-peepies will gather onthe-spot news telecasts. Pilot equipment of this type was rushed into production for the recent Chicago and San Francisco conventions. It included a ten-ounce TV camera made in West Germany, Philco’s four-pound camera mounted on a gunstock and aimed like a gun, and RCA's one-man TV station (components: one man. one camera/ one microphone, one fifteen-pound back-pack transmitter with battery, one detachable periscope for sighting over the heads of the crowd).
► A new principle of transmission, known as forward-scatter transmission, will bring live telecasts from around the world.
Like those for consumer use, these wonders are all in the works too. Early in the summer the U. S. air force began installing the equipment that will make telecasting from Europe to the U. S. a fact within a year. Hitherto the range of a TV signal across water has been limited to the approximate distance a man can see on the horizon from the transmitter top. Several schemes for trans-ocean transmission had been canvassed, among them a trans-Atlantic cable, fleets of relay ships and fleets of aircraft carrying relay links. The successful air-force system may roughly be described as ricocheting TV signals off the atmosphere toward a receiving antenna. Commercial TV people have already caught fire at the notion. Among them is Sylvester (Pat) Weaver, a man whose mind ferments with plans for TV’s future. Until recently Weaver was chairman of the board of NBC. "Think of transoceanic television,” he told a group of NBC writers when he was still working there, "['hink of a working NBC communications centre with a thousand monitors coming in — live, film and recorded — edited, indexed, collated, crossindexed, and the index operated cybernetically with electronic push-buttons so that you can get the stuff just like that when you want it! You know. Something happens in Athens. Boing.' The guy pushes the button ‘Athens' and the lights begin to blink all over the place as Athens starts pouring in.”
Another NBC executive, Leonard Hole, is less exclamatory but equally enthusiastic. "This,” he says, "brings within range complete communication among all humans. The language barrier? It can be solved. After all. they've already worked out one solution—even if it’s crude— at the UN.”
Such problems as simultaneous translation may well be dismissed as picayune. The industry figures—justifiably——that the scientist can deliver any goods required. In fact he has already delivered more goods than the retailers can comfortably handle. He has delivered, for better or worse, the ultimate instrument of mass communication. Short of controlled mass telepathy man has thought of—can think of—no other necessary dimension to add.
As Pat Weaver, then president of NBC, pointed out in London last year: "Television is anybody, anywhere, in that wherever one person can go or attend or be present at anything, every man can be substituted for that person by the camera.” Weaver might have added that the camera can also take every man where no man can go: into the world of the microscope and the telescope, into the cells of the amoeba and through space onto the craters of the moon.
Yet the channels through which this miraculous flood can reach the public are literally physically limited: to twelve Very High Frequency channels, some 70 Ultra High Frequency channels. How is a policy maker to decide what information they should carry? How is the program planner to decide between the rival desires and needs of many groups?
In Canada, where the government controls the channels and the taxpayer picks up the bill, the CBC says to the Fowler Commission: "The desires of Canadians in television are just about unlimited. The CBC has to strive to provide a balanced pattern of programming to give various interests and tastes fair shares. The CBC cannot be guided merely by 'ratings.' ”
In the U. S.. where private enterprise controls the channels and the advertiser picks up the bill, ratings—weekly listenership scores kept by market-survey firms like A. C. Nielsen Company—largely rule programming. As Weaver of NBC said recently: "Commercial television, to be successful, must attract the big audience —everyone.”
So Ed Sullivan, on CBS. battles it out on Sunday nights with Steve Allen on NBC. and the points are scored on Nielsen charts. So. also, the network heads say the presidential nominations were a flop because they were dull, televiewers tuned them out. ratings dropped and sponsors were cross. The conventions will have to be managed differently, thev say, in 1960.
But there are some signs that U. S. network heads are aware of what the CBC calls "a much wider purpose.” The strongest case in point, up to this Septembcr 7, was NBC under Weaver, whose credo ran this way: “To program for the intellectual alone is easy and duplicates other media. To make us all into intellectuals—there is the challenge for commercial television.”
TV shows you won't see
If you’re tired of watching commercial TV you could probably make a good parlor game by counting up possible uses for closed-circuit TV—a system that links a private transmitter to a restricted audience. Here are a few hints at TV's intramural potential:
Within ten years you'll be able to babysit by closed-circuit system. You'll also be able to window-shop, visit patients in hospital and attend school by TV. A polio patient in Toronto tuned in to her own classroom every morning last semester.
In industry, TV peers unflinchingly at chemical processes too precarious for direct observation, and monitors inaccessible parts of plants or operations. It’s already speeding construction of the St. Lawrence Power Dam at Massena. N.Y., by allowing a single observer to oversee the entire excavation.
You'll find closed-circuit TV on planes (for complete landing information in visual form), on guided missiles, and in freight marshaling yards (so the right
rolling stock gets hitched to the right engine). It has virtually replaced the guard system in one Texas jail. A department store. Bamberger’s, in Newark, installed a monitor hook-up instead of store dicks, and caught two shoplifters inside the first hour. Now it’s going to equip floor walkers with Dick Tracy pocket radios so they can close in on criminals at the first signal from the TV booth.
Banks are using it for quick checks on doubtful signatures and quick service when you want details of your account.
Its uses in the operating theatre are already well known, but a recent adaptation permits televising of internal exploration and surgery, enlarged so the doctor can see what he's doing. One complicated heart operation has been speeded up by an hour in this way.
James Lahey, general manager of Dage Television (a pioneer in closedcircuit development), says: "Of all possible uses for closed-circuit TV, only five percent have yet been explored.” ★
Weaver has picked up his own challenge by instituting a campaign for “Enlightenment Through Exposure.” His method: “To program so that people watch what they want to see in a form that includes things they don’t want to see.” His measuring stick: responsibility reports submitted monthly by each producer itemizing the bits of culture he’s managed to sneak into his show. Known on Madison Avenue as Operation Frontal Lobes, the campaign led hopeful producers to list such "pills” as Beethoven’s Fifth with sugar-coating in the form of Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray pantomiming a family fight. It also, undeniably, raised the over-all level of NBC performance and script by making producers aware of their public duties.
The companion Operation Junior Frontal l obes, designed to uplift the kiddies, has caused Howdy Doody, for instance, to add such material as an original song titled Be Kind To Your Parents, described in the responsibility report as instructing children “to be kind to their parents in appreciation for all the parents had done for them.”
Other networks, though minus a Weaver. have been on a similar culture-andpublie-service kick.
This September 7 Weaver himself resigned from NBC as board chairman amid rumors of friction with NBC president Robert Sarnoff (son of RCA’s General David Sarnoff). Weaver said. “The ideas I've collected over the past are projects i could not pursue under my working arrangement at NBC.” By the terms of his contract settlement he can’t work for a rival network till the middle of next year, but he promises, "I’ll be in the future of TV and radio in some major way.”
Weaver also believed a TV network could eventually be run like a magazine, with editorial control firmly in its own hands. The advertisers, would pay for the operation, but their money would buy the network’s circulation—the audience it had built up—rather than the right to dictate editorial content. The CBC. of course, already has this policy in operation.
Here are some further U. S. guesses about the future of TV programming:
► The traditional half-hour and onehour broadcasting segments will be broken down. If an event naturally runs, say, sixty-seven minutes, it will be allowed to do so. Ninety-minute “spectaculars” have already pointed the way.
► Spectaculars will abound (NBC and CBS are already well launched on this course and ABC has even scheduled a series of ninety-minute children’s shows for the coming season called Red Goose Kiddie Spectaculars. In Canada the CBC has scheduled six spectaculars—which it prefers to call “festivals”—for 1956-7. Sponsored by Chrysler Corp., they’ll be strictly high-class one-hour variety shows costing $75.000 each. In mid-September the CBC was still dickering for Hume Cronyn’s services as emcee, and trying frantically to line up performers like Mario Lanza, the Winnipeg Ballet. Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt. Dave Brubeck and Gisele to feature).
► Live or videotaped shows from London. Paris, Rome will be available via the new forward-scatter transmission.
► New films will be premiered and Broadway shows previewed on TV.
► These and similar goodies will be presented in something called the "magazinc format”—threeor four-hour packages of entertainment items selected to form a well-balanced evening program. The pattern for a whole week’s fare will be similarly worked out.
► Alternatively, parcels of preferred time may be assigned to outstanding producers on the order of Joshua Logan, Leland Hayward or Walt Disney. Each producer will have a free hand to choose and shuffle the contents of his own package.
► Daytime hours will increasingly be occupied by twoor three-hour mosaics of chatter, music, discussion, product demonstration and interviews conducted by a single "personality,” backed by a stable of sponsors and brightened by the star turns of promising newcomers being blooded for the TV bigtime. (No one has yet realized the daytime TV dream: something-or-other that can be to video what the soap opera was, in its heyday, to radio.)
► Local stations will not program in competition with networks; instead they'll aim at heel-tap audiences: eggheads, children, local sports fans, music-lovers, racial groups.
It’s possible to detect, in all this, the shaking-down of TV into an “event" medium. That is, it will compete for your leisure with movies, the theatre and sports. Oddly enough, it will compete in part by supporting its rivals financially, for it needs top films, plays and sports events for its own purposes. Columnist John Lardner recently made a dire prediction. He wrote. "The time is coming when they’ll play the World Series in Studio B.”
This is unlikely. TV will not supplant movies, films or spectator sports; nor will it supplant radio, newspapers or books. Each has a function TV can't take over. You can’t, for instance, watch TV while strap-hanging in a subway.
Meanwhile, it’s significant that, in the industry’s collective mind, the high point of commercial LI. S. television was undoubtedly NBC’s telecast of Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin, on March 7. 1955. It drew—and held—an audience of sixtyseven million. In some awe NBC’s director of press information remarked recently. “PTA meetings were canceled for Peter Pan.” He added, “People don't need to be entertained twenty-four hours a day. But when something good comes along they'll say, ‘Let's make a date.'”
Another NBC executive, Leonard Hole, makes the same point. “Television will be a special group activity in the future,” he says. "The family will plan for certain programs or program-evenings as they would for a stage play or a movie, keep the evening free and concentrate on them.”
This happy consummation, however, poses some knotty problems in addition to the obvious one of who’ll pay for the other shows?
Where, for instance, will the network find enough events? NBC, the network that's done the hardest thinking about how to keep canceling PTA meetings, is underwriting a new musical. Jack and the Beanstalk, in order to preview it on TV this fall before its Broadway opening. It has already played angel to three musicals and a play. Last year it plunked down $200,000 for the privilege of premiering a British farce. The Constant Husband, and $500,000, along with General Motors Corporation, for Sir Laurence Olivier's film, Richard 111. It has formed its own opera company (and has gone into the booking business to keep it on the road between TV dates). Last year NBC sent impresario Sol Hurok to the continent to scout fresh talent, and Samuel Chotzinoff, producer of the NBC operas, to England to drum up a couple of new operas from Benjamin Britten and Sir William Walton. As Mike Horton, the NBC press director, says, with more than a trace of panic, "TV’s bringing about a complete cross-pollenization of the arts.”
Producing even greater controlled panic is the talent problem. TV has already proved to be a terrifying gobbler of talent, as witness the truncated career of a Milton Bcrle or a Jackie Gleason or a George Gobel. Leonard Hole, now in charge of NBC’s unique talent-development scheme, says flatly, “In the U. S. the leading network is always going to be that one that leads in comedy presentation. But television uses up comedians like no other medium.”
NBC’s answer—a nation-wide talent roundup—was put into effect a year ago. One hundred and fifty unknown comedians were scouted before Hole found six he was ready to put under contract. A more elaborate winnowing of comedy writers produced fifteen candidates from a field of fifteen thousand. Nevertheless Hole is hopeful that careful sorting followed by intensive training will keep the network supplied with performers, writers and other creative artists, at least for the next few years.
And after that? Hole doesn’t care to say. “Who knows?” he muses. “In twenty years people may not go near their TV sets from one day to the next. They may be caught up in some new entertainment craze. Maybe do-it-yourself flying saucers!” it
Can TV learn to educate?
For the goodly number of citizens who suspect that education is the only lasting solution for man’s predicament, TV offers exciting possibilities.
In the U. S. the FCC has allocated 258 channels for educational TV—enough to create a national network. So far, only ten percent of the allocation has been picked up. but fifty institutions have telecast close to two hundred different courses for college credits.
In addition, sixty American colleges and institutes have installed closed-circuit systems to show classroom demonstrations or to spare a teacher from repeating the same lecture to several classes.
In Canada there is little of this closedcircuit education but there have been such CBC ventures as Exploring Minds, prepared in co-operation with Canadian universities. But so far the educational TV enterprise has been shaky wherever it’s meant a joint effort of educators and professional broadcasters. On Exploring Minds, for instance, a professor who wished to explain the phenomenon of light refracting when it strikes glass at an angle, proposed to draw a simple diagram. The producer insisted on substituting a symbolic—and wholly unintelligible—ballet sequence by twelve moppets.
The answer to education by TV may lie in the pay-as-you-go system. If introduced it might be a practical means of financing advanced university courses of an undreamed-of calibre. The day could come when you’ll come home on Thursday nights, put a dollar in the coin-box and settle back for Toynbee’s sixth graduate seminar in history, it