TV, Pro and Anti
To the Editor:
Richard Schickel’s position [“The Television Problem,” December 1962] . . . seems inconsistent. He admits that the TV medium is giving the public pap; yet he psychoanalyzes and berates the critics for trying to get better program material. Problems . . . that do exist, should, in Schickel’s view, be resolved by the TV industry itself. His solution is a plea to the industry to appropriate funds sufficient for “the experimenting with the medium . . . [for] acquiring a practical knowledge of . . . strengths and weaknesses.”
The details of the proposed experiments are not spelled out; but assuming that the TV industry does experiment along this line . . . and the experiments indicate that the medium requires basic changes, it would be contrary to the facts of economic life for a commercial enterprise to adopt procedures in the public interest if they conflict with the corporate purse. Not even the spokesmen for TV claim that what is best for the industry is best for the public.
Mr. Schickel thinks that the quality of TV programming is beyond the scope of legislative fiat. While it is never prudent to allow the government . . . carte blanche in cultural matters, it should be given sufficient authority to set standards based on quantitative objectives. For example . . . the questions of quantity, length, sound level, content, and manner of presentation of the advertising message are clearly and properly within the purview of governmental scrutiny. I have no doubt that if the “commercials” were adequately controlled it would be a major (though indirect) step toward improving program material.
One aspect . . . not discussed by Mr. Schickel is the social responsibility of the performers, whether artists or panelists. . . Appearing on television has become the sine qua non of prestige and success. So compelling is the urge of even internationally famous artists to be seen that every modicum of good taste is sacrificed. . . .
Walter D. Rosenberg
Riverdale, New York
To the Editor:
. . . Although it may seem minor to many, an interesting point in Mr. Schickel’s article is his mention of the tremendous burden on television trying to produce 5,200 hours of entertainment each year as compared to Hollywood’s maximum of only 500 hours. I found the article informative and to the point and although I appear to be critical of TV at times in my humor, I am, nevertheless, pro-television.
New York City