Articles

What will Fowler say about TV?

A year ago he couldn’t have cared less about television. Now, as head of the Royal Commission on Broadcasting Robert Fowler will help chart its future course. Here’s a repprt on the man — and what he’s likely to suggest

DAVID MacDONALD September 15 1956
Articles

What will Fowler say about TV?

A year ago he couldn’t have cared less about television. Now, as head of the Royal Commission on Broadcasting Robert Fowler will help chart its future course. Here’s a repprt on the man — and what he’s likely to suggest

DAVID MacDONALD September 15 1956

What will Fowler say about TV?

A year ago he couldn’t have cared less about television. Now, as head of the Royal Commission on Broadcasting Robert Fowler will help chart its future course. Here’s a repprt on the man — and what he’s likely to suggest

DAVID MacDONALD

In the four years since cathode rays began casting their spell across Canada, watching television has become the nation’s strongest social habit. Today thirty-six TV stations—eight run by the publicly owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation—spend $50,000,000 a year beaming the disparate likes of Hamlet and Howdy Doody at eight million Canadian viewers who, in turn, have paid more than $750,000,000 for home screens. Most persons who gaze at TV now do so for close to nineteen hours a week. With four in the average family, that puts family television time well over seventy hours a week—against about fifty-six hours per family spent in earning a living. No Canadian industry has grown so rapidly, nor produced so many armchair experts. “Everyone.” CBC chairman A. D. Dunton remarked recently, “—everyone feels strongly about television.”

This fact has never been more evident than in the last five months, since a three-man Royal Commission on Broadcasting setout cross-country to determine where TV should go from here.

Before it have come farmers and grey-flanneled advertising executives, priests and psychiatrists, recognized authorities and a few recognizable crackpots. In more than a million words, thus far, they’ve expressed strong—and conflicting—feelings on every aspect of TV and radio, from the high cost of low comedy to that favorite topic of the debating halls, Free Enterprise vs. State Control. The classic phrases of Abraham Lincoln, D'Arcy McGee and St. Augustine have been quoted in the hassle, amid cries of “Monopoly!” “Dictatorship!” and, “Keep Canada Canadian!” As the commission's chairman, R. M. Fowler, understated it a few weeks ago: “Broadcasting is certainly a lively issue — a vital piece of Canada.”

When the royal commission reports its findings to the federal government a few months from now, Robert MacLaren Fowler will have a lot more to say on the subject. Just as an earlier study made Vincent Massey a joint hero and nemesis of people with strong opinions about Canadian culture, so this lanky Montreal lawyer will become the oracle on broadcasting—an armchair expert whose ideas may well influence how much television the nation will have, the kind of programs to be offered on radio and TV and

WHAT WILL FOWLER SAY ABOUT TV? continued

the price Canadians must pay for them. If Fowler feels that we should behold fewer American acrobats and more Canadian violinists on our screens, if he thinks CBC television should be supported wholly by advertising or wholly by its viewers—whatever he suggests will be regarded by Ottawa as learned advice. His word, if the government finds it politically and otherwise acceptable, could become law.

The remarkable fact here is that less than a year ago Fowler was a striking exception to Dunton’s rule — a Canadian w'ho knew little and couldn’t care less about television or radio. And this, curiously enough, is one reason why he was chosen to head the tribunal examining them.

No one spotted the incongruity faster than Fowler, a man who knows quite a bit about a lot of things. As president of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, he’d often been consulted by Ottawa about newsprint exports or timber reserves. In the unlikely event that the government had wished to know something of primitive painting, classical literature or hot jazz—why, he would have felt modestly competent to speak on those subjects too. But though his home on Westmount Mountain, in Montreal, contained two TV sets, four radios and five children addicted thereto, Fowler rarely looked or listened and had never known a critic's urge for reform.

Hence, when Prime Minister St. Laurent asked him to conduct an enquiry into broadcasting last winter, Fowler considered it a spectacular non sequitur.

"But why me?” he wondered aloud. “I don’t know a thing about radio or television!”

"That,” said the prime minister, “is exactly what we need—an open mind on the subject.”

Besides an open mind, the role of judge demands an analytical mind, monumental patience and the knack of making good sense—qualities, as St. Laurent well knew, that Robert Fowler has displayed in many jobs. He first caught Ottawa’s attention in the late 1930s when, as legal secretary to the Rowell-Sirois Commission, he helped to restyle Canadian federalism. By turns, he has since been a leading member of the bar, counsel to several governmental enquiries, general counsel and secretary of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board and chief executive of the pulp-andpaper trade association. Now, at forty-nine, Fowler regards this assignment on the commission as

“probably the greatest challenge of my life.” It is indeed a tall order, both for Fowler and for his two colleagues—James Stewart, president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and Edmond Turcotte, a former ambassador to Colombia. During the last twenty-four years public and private enterprises have shared Canada’s air waves — as Fowler once put it — “in an atmosphere of agitation and contention, fanned by the endless enquiries of royal commissions and parliamentary committees.” Thus, in being asked now to draft long-range policies for television and radio, these latest investigators have been tossed one of the nation’s hottest potatoes.

Do they aim to destroy the CBC?

Moreover, they’ve been burned by it. The Fowler Commission was no sooner named, last December, when proponents of public and private-ownership broadcasting both spotted hidden (and opposite) portents in the appointment —of Fowler, who earns an estimated sixty thousand dollars a year as spokesman for the free-enterprising pulp-and-paper industry,

—of Stewart, a Scottish immigrant whose rise from junior clerk to bank president reads like Horatio Alger, and

—of Turcotte, who was once editor-in-chief of Le Canada, the Liberal Party’s now-defunct Montreal daily newspaper.

To Donald MacDonald, CCF leader in Ontario. they were “an extremely unrepresentative group which ... is already committed to support policies aimed at destroying our publicly owned broadcasting system.”

But to the Canadian Broadcaster and Telescreen. voice of private radio and TV, the reverse was apparent. “The real purpose of the Fowler Commission,” it declared, “is to find ways . . . of perpetuating the usefulness of the CBC as long as possible.”

As chairman of this impossibly minded tribunal. Fowler is on a special kind of spot. With hundreds of interested parties addressing advice to him. with virtually the entire nation secondguessing over his shoulder, he must sift the manifold opinions of others without appearing to have any of his own — an art Fowler deliberately eschews. Finally, although he barely knew Chan-

nel 5 from a commercial for perfume nine months ago, Fowler is now expected to bring about solutions to some of the oldest problems of the broadcasting business.

The problems stem largely from the fact that since 1932 Canada—unlike most nations—has. permitted both state and private radio and television. By the Canadian Broadcasting Act of 1936, the publicly owned CBC was created to build and link its own radio stations and those of all private operators into a truly national broadcasting system. To accomplish this, it was granted powers to license the independents and to regulate their programs, advertising and use of Canadian talent.

This unique alliance between public and private ownership, uneasy in radio from the start, grew more so under the impact of television. In 1952 the federal government gave the CBC a TV monopoly of the nation’s richest markets—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax—and then told it to go ahead and license private stations elsewhere, no more than one to a city.

By 1955 it was clear to Ottawa that no one was happy. Viewers protested that the one-channel system denied them any choice of programs. Private television demanded a crack at the CBC’s captive audiences and freedom from CBC control. And the CBC—now facing a twenty-milliondollar deficit for 1956—wanted more money.

What to do? The federal government, undecided, then appointed the Fowler Commission and handed it some posers:

• Should television be thrown open to competition?

• How much money does the CBC need for TV and radio, and where should it come from?

• Should all broadcasting be supervised by the CBC, or by some independent body?

• With marked American influences all across the land, how can Canadian TV and radio retain a Canadian accent?

Seeking answers, Fowler and his two colleagues have now traveled from Halifax to Vancouver, studied more than four hundred briefs and private letters, questioned hundreds of witnesses and listened to a bewildering variety of views. They’ve been told that TV is sending more people to church — and to psychiatrists' cots; that competition will procontinued on page 86

continued on page 86

FOR SPONSORED RELIGION

Father Charles Lanphier, member of the National Religious Advisory Council: “The CBC should allow commercially sponsored religious TV programs . . . dignified programs like Bishop Fulton Sheen's Life Is Worth Living and The Greatest Story Ever Told . . . but not hot-rod evangelism.”

From priests to broadcasters and businessmen, everyone has some advice for Fowler

FOR PRIVATE NETWORKS

Jack Kent Cooke, president of Toronto radio station CKEY: "The CBC should give up its networks and become a production centre for programs of national import and of particular interest to various minority groups, which could then be carried through the length and breadth of the country by private networks.”

FOR MORE COMPETITION

Peter Wright, spokesman for the Association of Canadian Advertisers: "The CBC should welcome competition in TV. It would produce better programs, better talent, better broadcasting. The CBC would learn to produce programs with wider appeal, and for less money.”

What will Fowler say about TV? continued from page 12

Fowler must help find the money the CBC needs to carry on national broadcasting. The questions are:

duce better—and worse—television programs. They’ve heard the CBC lauded as “the greatest cultural institution in Canada” and private radio stations lambasted as “glorified jukeboxes for American records.” A private television spokesman, Roy Ward Dickson, has written Fowler that, “In Canadian BROADCASTING there IS NO DEMOCRACY : ONLY AUTOCRACY!” while on the other hand a private radio manager. Finlay MacDonald, has said frankly that, “The CBC has discharged its duties very fairly.”

From the great broadcasting controversy has come a subsidiary ruckus over Robert Fowler’s part in it. Since the commission’s hearings began, amid contrary speculation on its collective views, the chairman has been singled out for attacks by several labor unions for favoring private stations, and by the Toronto Globe and Mail for “showing a marked tenderness toward the CBC.”

The object of these paradoxical allegations loses no sleep over them. If anything, Fowler feels that the image of himself in cahoots with both sides is an eloquent—if left-handed—tribute to his judicial impartiality. ‘'Until all the evidence is in,” he says, “I don't intend to make up my mind about anything.”

What seems to dispute this claim, at least partly, is Fowler’s way of eliciting evidence. A born lawyer, he loves to argue; and he will argue that he argues for more than the sweet sake of argument. He believes that "there is nothing like a brisk but orderly debate for getting at the facts.”

Fowler’s approach was sharply demonstrated in Ottawa last May while T. J. Allard, of the Canadian Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters, was testifying on behalf of one hundred and forty-one private radio and twentyfive TV stations. When Allard held that the CBC should be stripped of its powers over private stations, Fowler listened intently, nodding his head as if he couldn’t agree more. But when Allard hinted that some private-station owners were afraid to tell all about the CBC’s "tyranny,” lest they lose their licenses, the chairman quickly began firing pointed questions. Did Allard know of any licenses being revoked, for any reason? No, not in recent years. Had any stations openly criticized the CBC in that time? Well, yes. Pressed for examples of how the CBC abused its powers, Allard could cite none.

And when he declared that private stations should be allowed to form their own networks, Fowler drew' from him the admission that the CBC had never refused this—possibly because they’d never asked.

“Are we discussing practice or just a lot of theory?” Fowler demanded. "When you said, ‘We want to be free.' I assumed you were not free.” Summing it up, the Toronto Telegram reported, “The Fowler Commission made mincemeat of the private broadcasters.”

Yet twenty-four hours later Fowler appeared to be grinding away, with equal vigor, at the CBC. When officials of the Canadian Labor Congress upheld the CBC's right to regulate private stations, he objected. "Doesn’t it seem wrong in principle,” he observed, "that the CBC should both compete in broadcasting and act as referee? Wouldn't it be fairer to have some independent board of con-

trol?”—the very idea Allard advanced and Fowler had seemed to reject the day before.

While Fowler’s technique of pitting one argument against the other tends to reveal and, in balance, to hide his personal views, if any, he finds it an effective device for prodding witnesses. "It’s not enough to know what people think,” he has explained. "We’ve also got to find out why.”

Fowler’s attitude of total skepticism is evidently contagious. Ron Fraser, the CBC’s director of press and information services, had followed the commission for two weeks when he told Fowler, “You’ve changed my whole outlook on life.”

“How is that?” the chairman asked.

"Well,” said Fraser, “the valet came into my hotel room today befoje I got up. He said, 'Good morning, sir.’ And I said, ‘Yeah? /hove it!’”

Proof aside, most of the Fowler Com mission’s thinking is directed in a purely speculative way at some big and controversial “ifs” about broadcasting. If, for example, television should be thrown open to competition, as the commission can recommend, what will be the result? To CBC chairman A. D. Dunton, the loss of its monopoly in major cities “at this time” would reduce the CBC’s revenues and slow down its avowed development of a national TV system similar to radio’s.

“What do you mean by better?”

On the other hand, the Canadian Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters has maintained that, according to a recent Gallup Poll, 77.8 percent of the nation’s viewers are dissatisfied with onechannel TV and that competition would give them a welcome choice of programs. Speaking for the Association of Canadian Advertisers, Toronto lawyer Peter Wright told the Fowler Commission that there is enough advertising money available in such cities as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg to support at least two TV stations. “Competition won’t hurt the CBC,” he predicted. "But it will produce better programs, better talent and better broadcasting.”

“What do you mean by ‘better’ programs?" said Fowler. Wright replied. “Programs that would cost less and appeal more widely.”

The implication that a program appealing to the most is therefore the best in TV doesn’t sit well with Fowler. “I yield to no man in my admiration of competition in the development of trade and goods,” he has said. “But I question whether it necessarily applies in the field of communications. For example, competition in horror comic books doesn’t produce ‘better' comics—just more horrible ones.”

In their consideration of competitive TV. the commissioners are well aware ol one of the most powerful forces influencing the Canadian way of life: namely, the American way of life. Fowler’s personal views on the subject are well known. “Canadian broadcasting,” he has said, "should do a great deal to reflect the culture of Canada.” On several occasions both he and James Stewart have cited the Massey Report's indictment of private radio for failing to originate Canadian material, and they have voiced fears that

how much money and who will be asked to pay it?

private TV stations in competition with the CBC would do little more. But beyond stating a conviction that Canadian broadcasting should have the tlavor of Canada, the commissioners haven’t yet indicated how they propose to guarantee it.

Just as the Fowler Commission may help to shape what the Canadian viewer will see on his TV screen, so it can touch him in the pocketbook. One of the commissioners’ biggest chores is to find out how much money the CBC needs to carry on national broadcasting, and then to find the money. They’ve been told that the CBC requires roughly thirty million dollars a year to continue its present level of television service, plus another sixteen million for radio. The CBC’s problem is that its expenses are increasing and its largest source of revenue—a fifteen-percent excise tax on TV sets and radios— is shrinking, now that the rush of firsttime television purchases is over. A twenty-million-dollar deficit has been forecast for this fiscal year, unless TV services are cut drastically or the government comes through with help. Fowler’s appraisal of the situation is a safe one: "There has to be some change in financing.”

If the commissioners have come close to tipping their hands on any of the issues, this is it. They seem to agree with both the CBC and the Massey Report of 1951 that a direct levy (license fees on

home receivers) would be the most practical system, even though it proved politically so unpopular with radio listeners that Ottawa abolished it in 1953. When the commission was in Toronto the Association of Canadian Advertisers came up with an alternative suggestion that it would profit the CBC to sell more air time to advertisers. "If people don’t want license fees,” said the ACA spokesman, Peter Wright, "they can pay for television simply by watching—and heeding—the sponsors’ commercials. That’s the price." To Fowler the price seemed too stifY. He replied dryly, “Doesn't that fall under the heading of cruel and unnatural punishment?”

When the final briefs, opinions and arguments are on the record, later this month in Ottawa, Fowler and his associates will still have to pore over involved reports on the state of CBC finances, surveys and radio and television programs from coast to coast and more than a hundred and fifty private letters urging them to make sure that Canadian broadcasting shuns liquor advertising and Mr. Elvis Presley; that TV helps to develop Canadian opera singers and junior hockey players; and that radio devotes more time to classical music—"Because,” as a farm wife in northern British Columbia put it, "it’s so nice to be able to listen to Bach and churn the butter.”

When all the evidence is in, Fowler hopes the commission will be able to pro-

“I’m a long-hair,” says commissioner Turcotte. “But, strangely enough, I also enjoy I Love Lucy”

duce its report by the end of this year, or early in 1957. It will contain recommendations on which at least two commissioners are able to agree, but each man is free to write an individual minority report on disputed points.

Judging by the disparity of opinions presented to the royal commission, the odds are long against any three Canadians reaching exactly the same conclusions about broadcasting. Several months ago, in the diner of a train crossing the prairies, the three commissioners were hashing over the latest brief in support of competitive TV—when an eavesdropper overheard these appraisals:

Edmond Turcotte: “Well, it’s the same old story over again."

James Stewart: “Not quite. More like variations on a theme.”

Robert Fowler: “Oh. 1 don’t know. If you get hit over the head often enough it makes you think.”

Their backgrounds and tastes are equally dissimilar. Edmond I urcotte, a perfectly bilingual French Canadian, was born fifty-eight years ago in Lowell, Mass., but made his mark as a newspaperman in Quebec. From 1934 to I‘07 he edited the Montreal daily Le Canada, then the official French-language organ of the Liberal Party. For several years thereafter he held a variety of administrative posts with the City of Montreal and has since been given a succession of federal-government appointments. In 1942 he was assigned to the Wartime Prices and Trade Board to organize the French service of its information branch. He represented Canada at UNESCO conferences in London, in 1945, and in Paris a year later.

“L’Affaire Turcotte”

In 1947 he was named Canadian consul-general to Chicago, thereby touching off what international headlines dubbed “L'Affaire Turcotte.” The Chicago Tribune charged that Turcotte was persona non grata because, two years earlier, he had written an article warning that French-Canadian culture must beware of “the vulgarity and tawdriness of America.” Ray Atherton. U. S. ambassador to Ottawa, protested the appointment of this “anti-American” to Chicago. The government, however, stuck by its new diplomat. He remained in Chicago for three years, without further incident, spent another three as consul-general in Caracas, Venezuela, and then went to Colombia, in 1953, as a full-fledged ambassador. He returned to Canada last year and. between postings, was assigned to serve with Fowler on the Royal Commission on Broadcasting.

Small, bright-eyed and bald, Turcotte unabashedly describes himself as “a confirmed long-hair.” He is keenly interested in the arts, yet practices none. His reading runs to heavy nonfiction, mostly history and sociology. He spends long hours listening to recorded symphonies and opera, detests modern music in any form but confesses to "a morbid curiosity” about the current craze for rock V roll. Since his appointment to the Fowler Commission. Turcotte has installed a TV set in the downtown Montreal apartment where he lives with his wife, daughter and two sons. "I prefer the more serious programs,” he says, “—good plays and documentaries. But, strangely enough. 1 also find myself enjoying light stuff, like I Love Lucy.”

While Turcotte’s life has taken many turns, James Stewart's entire career in

finance has had only one direction—up. Born in Perth, Scotland, sixty-two years ago. he quit school at the age of fourteen and went to work as a ledger keeper. Six years later, in 1914. he came to Canada and got a job with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Working in Halifax, New York, Mexico City and Toronto. Stewart won rapid promotions. During World War II he was loaned to the federal gov-

ernment, going to Ottawa as administrator of services for the Wartime Prices and Trade Board.

In 1947 he became general manager of the bank and, five years later, moved behind the president’s desk in Toronto. Last year Stewart was among the prominent Canadian businessmen—Fowler was another—who appeared before the Royal Commission on Canada's Economic Pros-

pects to protest against federal anticombines laws on grounds that “a simple agreement among two, three or more businesses is regarded as a criminal offense, regardless of whether it is beneficial or harmful to the public.” On his record. Stewart is a sound and astute conservative who won’t advocate any changes in broadcasting that don’t add up to good financial sense.

A bachelor, Stewart is a handsome greying man who looks younger than he is. He curls, shoots golf in the mid-70s and spends a month each winter deep-sea fishing off Panama or Peru. His home on the northwestern outskirts of Toronto is a large grey-stone house fashioned after an early French-Canadian manor. Stewart gives much of his spare time to reading. chiefly to historical novels and books on economics. He seldom listens to radio except for news reports but greatly enjoys w'alching baseball, football and boxing on his seventeen-inch TV set. Being

a director of Maple Leaf Gardens, he gets his hockey firsthand.

The best-known member of the commission, Robert Fowler, was born in Peterborough. Ont., where his father was a manufacturers’ agent. Graduated from high school at eighteen, he went to the University of Toronto on a scholarship, intending to become an actuary. In 1928 young Fowler got his degree in mathematics but. having cooled on the actuarial profession, he enrolled at Osgoode Hall to study law. Admitted to the bar in 1931. he joined a leading Toronto law firm and

three years later married Sheila Ramsay, the beautiful daughter of a socially prominent Toronto family.

Fowler quickly established himself as a lawyer—at thirty-one he was one of the youngest Canadians to plead a case alone before the Privy Council in London— and as a tireless worker on behalf of Liberalism. In 1937. when the RowellSirois Commission began an important review of dominion-provincial relations, he was made legal secretary to the chairman, Ontario’s Chief Justice Newton W. Rowell. He impressed the commissioners

with his quick grasp of the complicated constitutional issues involved and was later given a large hand in drafting their report, which ultimately brought about a major redistribution of governmental authority and tax powers.

In 1942 Fowler was back in the nowfamiliar role of investigator, as a government counsel in an enquiry to find out why Canadian troops were sent to Hong Kong shortly before its certain capture by the Japanese. This done, he was called to Ottawa to become secretary of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, that mobilization of civil servants, high-powered businessmen and lawyers whose job was masterminding the home front.

One of Fowler’s jobs was to help increase the supply of wood products, which kept him in constant touch with leaders of the pulp-and-paper industry. As a result, when the war ended and they faced the problem of getting unwound from government controls, the man they looked to for assistance was Fowler, who’d helped to do the winding. Thus he moved to Montreal as president of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association and chief spokesman for the trade.

Many times, in this capacity, Fowler has gone before the American Newspaper Publishers Association or U. S. congressional committees to defend the Canadian newsprint industry — which sells eighty percent of its production in the States— against charges of price-rigging. He has frequently been called upon to rebut similar accusations in Canada. In 1951. when seven fine-paper companies were charged with fixing prices. Fowler contended that Canada’s antitrust laws were unfair to businessmen — "You can compete,” he interpreted, "but you mustn’t win the competition”—and he publicly criticized Minister of Justice Stuart Garson for importing legal concepts from the United States. Yet less than a year later, when the cold and Korean wars prompted Ottawa to reimpose "essential material” controls on the pulp-and-paper industry, C. D. Howe asked Fowler to administer them within his new Department of Defense Production. Though it meant a lot of extra work, he accepted the nonpaying job promptly.

“All-or-nothing guy”

"1 don’t think businessmen can criticize government,” he says, "and then refuse when they're asked to do something to help.”

For this reason—certainly not because of any scorching interest in broadcasting —Fowler agreed to become chairman of the royal commission when Prime Minister St. Laurent tapped him for the job last winter. Though the public hearings were still months off. he lost no time starting work. In the middle of a European vacation with his wife, he took several days off to call on TV executives in Paris and London and establish contacts that have since produced some interesting comparison reports on French and British broadcasting systems. Mrs. Fowler took the holiday interruptions with calm resignation. "When Bob gets interested in something," she says, “there's no stopping him. He’s an all-or-nothing guy.”

Fowler’s interests cover a wide range. An avid reader, his bookshelves contain the assorted works of William Shakespeare. Mickey Spillane and Stephen Leacock. Like Turcotte, he is fond of symphonic music but, unlike him, he also likes jazz, particularly the Dixieland style of Mr. Satchmo Armstrong.

Several years ago Fowler became interested in art. Not content merely to have the paintings of such well-known Canadian artists as A. J. Casson, Robert

While Winnipeg ignores the CBC, said witnesses, Regina wants it. “You can’t win,” sighs Fowler

Pilot, I orno Bouchard and Eric Riordon adorning his home—a splendid elevenroom brick house overlooking Montreal —he began daubing at landscapes himself. Fowler cails himself a “primitive” —"it s the best word for my own work.” He also plays piano, writes slightly purple doggerel for the private amusement of his friends and takes an active part in the C anadian Institute of International Affairs, of which he was president for five years. "Bob has a general curiosity about everything,” says Edmond Turcotte. "If you're talking baseball or ballet, he has endless questions to ask.”

Today, though most of Fowler’s curiosity is directed at the broadcasting media, he still spends little time before the TV sereen or radio and claims to have no favorite programs. At home, in the rare event that he has nothing else to do, he watches whatever television shows his children prefer—among them Our Miss Brooks and Father Knows Best.

When the commission is on tour Fowler seldom has time for amusements. Most nights he works late, going over one day’s evidence and reading briefs for the next. He often astounds witnesses appearing before him by remembering their written arguments better than they do themselves. His only regular recreation is a nightly game of cribbage with James Stewart or. when the commission’s demanding schedule permits, a day of golf or fishing.

At the hearings he sets an example of executive nattiness and easy informality, slouching lazily in his chair and using one of his briar pipes for a gavel. A model of courtesy, he delivers even the most incisive questions and arguments in a disarmingly tranquil manner. His quips are good-natured and he listens as attentively to high-school juniors gee-whizzing

the lack of good teen-age radio programs as he does to ministers who deplore television’s plunging necklines. This is no small feat in itself, for the job of probing such a sensitive subject as broadcasting woidd shatter the patience of all but the most dedicated of men. Shortly after the hearings got underway, a witness in Winnipeg told the commission that many people were ignoring the CBC television station there, refusing to buy sets until a private station was allowed to open. A few days later, another witness in Regina declared that many people were ignoring the private station there, refusing to buy sets until the CBC moved in. Fowler glanced from Stewart to Turcotte, shaking his head slowly. “I guess,” he sighed, “you just can’t win at this game.”

Even so, Fowler is confident that the commission will he able to do its job of blue-printing the future growth of television and radio in Canada. "I don’t think it’s an impossible task,” he has said, "if only because it has to be done, somehow. Over the long pull a man, or a group of men, will do the reasonable thing. If you’re patient enough and trustful enough, you can usually get a workable result.” Others are more pessimistic. When the commission was in Toronto, the Association of Canadian Advertisers’ spokesman, Peter Wright, told Fowler bluntly that the commission hadn’t a hope of finding a solution that would be valid for more than a few years. "We’re just at the beginning, not the end, of this technical development called television,” Wright said. “Unfortunately, this medium operates under human beings, and they’re pretty good at making mistakes.”

The chairman held up his hands in mock surrender. "That’s enough,” he said. “I’m feeling sorry already for the next royal commission.” ★