National Educational Television

National Educational Television (NET) was a United States educational broadcast television network that operated from May 16, 1954 to October 4, 1970. It was owned by the Ford Foundation and later co-owned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It was succeeded by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which has memberships with many television stations that were formerly part of NET.

National Educational Television
United States
FoundedNovember 1952
Slogan"This is N-E-T"
Broadcast area
United States and Canada
OwnerFord Foundation (1954–1970)
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1967–1970)
Launch date
May 16, 1954 (as a network)
DissolvedOctober 4, 1970
Former names
Educational Television and Radio Center
National Educational Television and Radio Center
Replaced byPBS
National Educational Television logo (1969-1970)
The color NET logo was incorporated into a model building at the beginning and end of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood episodes on February 10, 1969


"Flame" Logo 1966-1968

The network was founded as the Educational Television and Radio Center (ETRC) in November 1952 by a grant from the Ford Foundation's Fund for Adult Education (FAE). It was originally a limited service for exchanging and distributing educational television programs produced by local television stations to other stations; it did not produce any material by itself.[1]

In the spring of 1954, ETRC moved its operations to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and on May 16 of that year it began operating as a "network". It put together a daily five-hour package of television programs, distributing them primarily on kinescope film to the affiliated stations by mail.[2] The programming was noted for treating subjects in depth, including hour-long interviews with people of literary and historical importance. The programming was also noted for being dry and academic, with little consideration given to entertainment value, a marked contrast to commercial television. Many of the shows were designed as adult education, and ETRC was nicknamed the "University of the Air"[3] (or, less kindly, "The Bicycle Network", both for its low budget and for the way NET supposedly sent programs to its affiliates, by distributing its program films and videotapes via non-electronic means such as by mail, termed in the television industry as "bicycling").

The center's headquarters moved from Ann Arbor to New York City in 1958, and the organization became known as the National Educational Television and Radio Center (NETRC).[1] The center became more aggressive at this time, aiming to ascend to the role of the U.S.' fourth television network. Among its efforts, the network began importing programs from the BBC into the United States, starting with An Age of Kings in 1961.[4] It increased its programming output to ten hours a week.[1] Most programs were produced by the affiliate stations because the NETRC had no production staff or facilities of its own. NETRC also contracted programs from independent producers and acquired foreign material from countries like Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Yugoslavia, the USSR, France, Italy and West Germany.[5]

Starting from 1962, federal government took over the FAE's grants-in-aid program through the Education Television Facilities Act.[6]

External video
Eleanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy (President's Commission on the Status of Women) - NARA cropped
Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt; What Status For Women?, 59:07, 1962.
Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, interviews President John F. Kennedy, Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg and others, Open Vault from WGBH[7]

In November 1963 NETRC changed name to National Educational Television, and spun off its radio assets. Under the centerpiece program NET Journal, NET began to air controversial, hard-hitting documentaries that explored numerous social issues of the day such as poverty and racism. While praised by critics, many affiliates, especially those in politically and culturally conservative markets, objected to the perceived liberal slant of the programming.[8]

In 1966, NET's viability came into question when the President Lyndon Johnson arranged for the Carnegie Foundation to conduct a study on future of educational television. The Carnegie Commission released its report in 1967, recommending educational television to be transformed to "public television". The new organization would be controlled by nonprofit Corporation for Public Television, established by the federal government and receiving funding from the government and other sources. The funds were to be distributed to individual stations and independent production centers like NET. The Ford Foundation, the educational broadcasters and President Johnson supported the recommendations of the Carnegie Commission in the Public Broadcasting Act, which was signed into law on November 7, 1967.[9]

The Network Project, a media research organization based at Columbia University, noted the paradoxical nature of the Ford's Foundation role: "A supposedly educational or public system of television was wholly the progeny of a private economic institution". The ethos of The Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation could be traced to Andrew Carnegie's essay "The Gospel of Wealth", in which he maintained that a third force was needed to mediate between the disruptive forces of popular democracy and industrial capitalism, so that "the ties of brotherhood" could "bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship". Following the Protestant ethic, Carnegie proposed that non-profit agencies, ranging from libraries and educational institutions to museums and endowments, helped carrying out "the good works of the elect".[10]

Replacement by PBS

One of NET's last identifiers calling it "National Educational Television", from 1968. In later years, NET simply began calling itself "the public television network" and stopped using the wordmarkings seen here.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) first began operations in 1969, with NET continuing to produce several programs. However, NET's continued production and airing of the critically acclaimed but controversial documentaries, eventually led to Ford and the CPB deciding to shut the network down. In early 1970, both threatened to cut their funding unless NET merged its operations with New York City-area affiliate WNDT (this did not, however, end the production and distribution of hard-hitting documentaries on public television, since PBS itself continues to distribute and CPB continues to help fund series including Frontline, POV and Independent Lens to this day).

On October 5, 1970, PBS officially began broadcasting after NET and WNDT completed their merger. NET ceased to operate as a separate network from that point, although some NET-branded programming, such as NET Journal, remained part of the PBS schedule for another couple of years before the brand was finally retired. WNDT's call sign was changed to WNET shortly afterward. Some of the programs that began their runs on NET, such as Washington Week and Sesame Street, continue to air on PBS today.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "National Educational Television (NET)". National Public Broadcasting Archives. Archived from the original on 22 August 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Ford Foundation Activities in Noncommercial Broadcasting, 1951-1976". Ford Foundation. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
  3. ^ Carolyn N. Brooks (29 November 2007). "National Educational Television Center (NET)". Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
  4. ^ An Age of Kings: an import becomes public TV’s first hit, David Stewart, Current, December 21, 1998
  5. ^ Saettler, Paul (2004). The Evolution of American Educational Technology. p. 376.
  6. ^ Engelman, Ralph (1996). Public Radio and Television in America, a political history. p. 140.
  7. ^ "Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt; What Status For Women?". National Educational Television. Open Vault at WGBH. 1962. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "The Museum of Broadcast Communications - Encyclopedia of Television". Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  9. ^ Saettler, Paul (2004). The Evolution of American Educational Technology. p. 378.
  10. ^ Engelman, Ralph (1996). Public Radio and Television in America, a political history. p. 141.

External links

1966–67 United States network television schedule

This was the television schedule on all three networks for the fall season beginning in September 1966. All times are Eastern and Pacific.

New fall series are highlighted in bold.

Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its rank and rating as determined by Nielsen Media Research.

Yellow indicates the programs in the top 10 for the season.

Cyan indicates the programs in the top 20 for the season.

Magenta indicates the programs in the top 30 for the season.Note: This is the first full season in which practically all prime time programs were broadcast in color.

NET or National Educational Television, was in operation, but the schedule was set by each affiliated station.

1968–69 United States network television schedule

This was the prime-time television schedule on all three United States television networks for the fall season beginning in September 1968. All times are Eastern and Pacific.

New fall series are highlighted in bold.

Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its rank and rating as determined by Nielsen Media Research.

Yellow indicates the programs in the top 10 for the season.

Cyan indicates the programs in the top 20 for the season.

Magenta indicates the programs in the top 30 for the season.The National Educational Television (NET) was in operation, but the schedule was set by each local station.

1969–70 United States network television schedule

This was the television schedule on all three networks for the fall season beginning in September 1969. All times are Eastern and Pacific.

New fall series are highlighted in bold.

Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its rank and rating as determined by Nielsen Media Research.

Yellow indicates the programs in the top 10 for the season.

Cyan indicates the programs in the top 20 for the season.

Magenta indicates the programs in the top 30 for the season.The National Educational Television (NET) was in operation, but the schedule was set by each local station.

21st Primetime Emmy Awards

The 21st Emmy Awards—also known since 1974 as the 21st Primetime Emmy Awards—were handed out on June 8, 1969. The ceremony was co-hosted by Bill Cosby and Merv Griffin.

The top shows of the night were Get Smart, which won Outstanding Comedy Series for the second consecutive year, and Outstanding Dramatic Series winner NET Playhouse. NET Playhouse, from the PBS predecessor National Educational Television Network, became the first show outside the Big Three television networks to win a top series award.

Due to several categories being combined for the ceremony, no show received more than two major wins. The most drastic rule change was that all shows that had aired more than two seasons were ineligible. The cause of this change was due to the rise in repeat winners in recent years. There was no winner in the category of Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, because the judges felt that none of the nominees were worthy of an award.

Between Time and Timbuktu

Between Time and Timbuktu is a television film directed by Fred Barzyk and based on a number of works by Kurt Vonnegut. Produced by National Educational Television and WGBH-TV in Boston, Massachusetts, it was telecast March 13, 1972 as a NET Playhouse special. The television script was also published in 1972, illustrated with photographs by Jill Krementz and stills from the television production.

The script was primarily written by David Odell, with contributions from Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, and the film's director. Vonnegut himself served as an "advisor and contributor to the script."

Boyd Estus

Boyd Estus is a director of photography and producer/director in the motion picture industry whose credits include the Academy Award-winning The Flight of the Gossamer Condor, the Academy Award-nominated Eight Minutes to Midnight, and many Emmy-winning television programs. He has worked on location around the world shooting and directing feature films and documentaries.

Dirk Gringhuis

Richard H. Gringhuis (September 22, 1918 – March 1974) known as "Dirk" Gringhuis was an American artist and illustrator. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he studied from 1939 to 1941 at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, lived in New York for a year, then moved back to Michigan. He wrote and illustrated 28 books, half of them on Michigan history. He also was producer-host for the television series, “Open Door to Michigan.” He served as Curator of Exhibits at the Museum and Associate Professor in Elementary Education at Michigan State University. He received special awards for his work on Michigan, including the Governor’s Award, A National Educational Television Award, and an Award of Merit from the Michigan Historical Society. He was closely associated, as a contract author and artist, with the Mackinac Island State Park system from 1958 until his death. During that time he wrote and illustrated four publications on the Mackinac region, illustrated many others and painted exhibit murals. Having moved to East Lansing in 1952, he painted the Michigan Folklore Mural at the East Lansing Public Library.His books include Here Comes the Bookmobile (1952), Were-Wolves and Will-o-the-Wisps: French Tales of Mackinac Retold (1974), Lore of the Great Turtle (1970), and The Young Voyageur (1955). He illustrated three volumes in the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner—#4, Mystery Ranch; #5, Mike's Mystery; and #6, Blue Bay Mystery.

He illustrated The Hidden Valley of Oz in 1951.


Guatevisión is a Guatemalan public television operated by the National Broadcasting System, whose headquarters is in Guatemala City. Their domestic operations began on May 12, 1975 by order of President Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio on the merger of public frequencies (5,19 and 25) to pass a single frequency. It was called National Educational Television (1975 - 1985) and years later he renamed the Guatevisión with general programming and educational. Today, has a 75.5% Guatevisión transmit frequency at the national level from the city of Guatemala.

Jac Venza

Jac Venza is a public television producer who is directly responsible for most of the theatre and music programs that have been seen on PBS since its creation in 1970. From the early 1960s until his retirement in 2005, Venza brought such programs as NET Playhouse, Live from Lincoln Center, American Playhouse, American Masters, and Great Performances to millions of viewers. He won a Personal Peabody Award in 1998.He began his career on CBS in the 1950s, where he began to notice the scarcity of programming devoted to the fine arts on television. It was his dream to bring more of it to the home screen on a regular basis, but he did not receive a full opportunity to do so until the creation of National Educational Television, where it soon became possible, thanks largely to Venza, to see great dramatic literature regularly performed by some of the world's most renowned actors. A then-unknown Dustin Hoffman made his first major television appearance in a play - Ronald Ribman's The Journey of the Fifth Horse - on NET in 1966. NET Playhouse was perhaps the first television anthology to present commercial-free, full-length productions (rather than one-hour or ninety-minute adaptations) of theatrical classics such as Arthur Miller's adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. When NET became PBS, Venza quickly launched Great Performances, which is still running today.

Upon his retirement from PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting awarded Venza the Ralph Lowell medal. He held the record for the most Emmy nominations for an individual - 57 - until 2010.

John F. White

John F. (Jack) White (October 11, 1917 in Waukegan, Illinois – April 22, 2005 Virginia Beach, Virginia) was president of the Cooper Union from 1969 until 1979, President of National Educational Television and was a special assistant at the ASPEN Institute.

John F. White was born on October 11, 1917 in Waukegan, Illinois to the Reverend Edward Sydney and Lilah McCormick White. He was educated at the Harvard School for Boys and Hyde Park High School. He received his B.A. from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1941. In 1944, he received his masters degree at the University of Chicago. During the early 1960s, White received several honorary degrees including an LH.D. from Lawrence College in 1961 and a LL.D. from Cornell College in Iowa in 1964. He married Joan Glasow in May 1943 with whom he would have three children: Susan, Michael, and Christopher.

From 1941 to 1944, White was the Admissions Counsellor at Lawrence. White returned to Illinois in 1944 to become the Director of Admissions at the Illinois Institute of Technology. White stayed at the Illinois Institute of Technology for six years. He served as Assistant Dean of Students from 1945 to 1946, Dean of Students from 1946 to 1948, and Dean and Director of the Development Program from 1948 to 1950. In 1950, White left the Institute of Technology for Western Reserve University where he was offered the position of Vice President. During his five year tenure, White made his initial move into educational broadcasting as he pioneered development of television as an educational tool at Western Reserve.

He left his job as Vice President in 1955 to move to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and to become the General Manager of WQED. During 1956, he lectured at the University of Pittsburgh. WQED won the Peabody Award for its programming in 1957. White left WQED in 1958 to become President of the National Educational Television and Radio Center. During his tenure as President, there were a few unsuccessful attempts to bring educational television to the New York City area. White helped form Educational Television for the Metropolitan Area Inc. in 1961 and served as its secretary and as a board member to further this goal. In 1962, WNDT New York went on the air, becoming one of the country's outstanding ETV operations by 1968. In 1963, the National Educational Television and Radio Center put aside all its functions except for non-instructional television programming. It changed its name to National Educational Television and focused on cultural and public affairs programming. John White served as president of the National Educational Television and Radio Center from 1963 to 1969.

After eleven years in public broadcasting, White returned to education in 1969 to serve as President of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. During this period, he began collaborating on a history of public broadcasting that was never completed. He retired from active work in 1990, but he continued to work as a consultant for the Aspen Institute from 1980 to 1988.

White and his family lived in Tuxedo Park, NY from 1959 to 1995. He was very active in his community through directorships in several companies including Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. and Viacom International Inc. and participation in local clubs such as the Century, Tuxedo Club, and University Clubs. He was also an active church member. He served as Trustee of St. John the Divine in New York City from 1978 to 1988 and as a Vestryman of St. Mary's Church in Tuxedo Park from 1979 to 1986.

In 1995, he and his wife Joan moved to their home in Sarasota, Florida. They remained there until 2001, when they moved to Virginia Beach, VA. Jack White died at age 87 on April 22, 2005.

Law and Order (1969 film)

Law and Order is a 1969 documentary film by Frederick Wiseman that shows the daily routine of officers of the Kansas City Police Department. It was Wiseman's third film after Titicut Follies (1967) and High School (1968). The films were among the earliest examples of direct cinema by a U.S. filmmaker.

The police documentary, initially shown on National Educational Television (NET) (predecessor to the PBS Public Broadcasting System) in the United States, was directed, produced and edited by Wiseman, and the cinematographer was William Brayne. It won an Emmy Award as best documentary of the year.

List of PBS logos

PBS logos are station identifications used by the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Programs distributed to its member stations end with a television ID including the PBS name and logo and often a voiceover, known in the industry as a "system cue". From 1970 to 1984 the logo was usually displayed on-screen for eight seconds. Since 1984 the logo has appeared on-screen for five seconds.

This article also covers the logos used by PBS's predecessor, National Educational Television.

List of United States terrestrial television networks

In the United States, for most of the history of broadcasting, there were only three or four major commercial national terrestrial networks. From 1946 to 1956, these were ABC, CBS, NBC and DuMont (though the Paramount Television Network had some limited success during these years). From 1956 to 1986, the "Big Three" national commercial networks were ABC, CBS, and NBC (with a few limited attempts to challenge them, such as National Telefilm Associates [and its NTA Film Network] and the Overmyer Network). From 1954 to 1970, National Educational Television was the national clearinghouse for public TV programming; the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) succeeded it in 1970.

Today, more than fifty national free-to-air networks exist. Other than the non-commercial educational (NCE) PBS, which is composed of member stations, the largest terrestrial television networks are the traditional Big Three television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). Many other large networks exist, however, notably Fox and The CW which air original programming for two hours each night instead of three like the original "Big Three" do, as well as syndication services like MyNetworkTV and Ion Television which feature reruns of recent popular shows with little to no original programming. Fox has just about the same household reach percentage as the Big Three, and is therefore often considered a peer to ABC, NBC, and CBS since it has also achieved equal or better ratings since the late 1990s. Most media outlets now include Fox in what they refer to as the "Big Four" TV networks.

The transition to digital broadcasting in 2009 has allowed for television stations to offer additional programming options through digital subchannels, one or more supplementary programming streams to the station's primary channel that are achieved through multiplexing of a station's signal. A number of new commercial networks airing specialty programming such as movies, reruns of classic series and lifestyle programs have been created from companies like Weigel Broadcasting, Luken Communications and even owners of the major networks such as The Walt Disney Company (through the Walt Disney Television subsidiary) and Comcast (through the NBCUniversal subsidiary). Through the use of multicasting, there have also been a number of new Spanish-language and non-commercial public TV networks that have launched.

Free-to-air networks in the U.S. can be divided into four categories:

Commercial networks – which air English-language programming to a general audience (for example, CBS);

Spanish-language networks – fully programmed networks which air Spanish-language programming to a primarily Latin American audience (for example, Telemundo and Univision);

Educational and other non-commercial broadcast networks – which air English- and some foreign-language television programming, intended to be educational in nature or otherwise of a sort not found on commercial television (for example, PBS);

Religious broadcast networks – which air religious study and other faith-based programs, and in some cases, family-oriented secular programs (for example, Daystar).Each network sends its signal to many local affiliate television stations across the country. These local stations then air the "network feed," with programs broadcast by each network being viewed by up to tens of millions of households across the country. In the case of the largest networks, the signal is sent to over 200 stations. In the case of the smallest networks, the signal may be sent to just a dozen or fewer stations.

As of the 2016–17 television season, there are an estimated 118.4 million households in the U.S. with at least one TV set.

NET Playhouse

NET Playhouse was an American dramatic television anthology series produced by National Educational Television. NET subsequently merged with WNDT Newark to form WNET, and was superseded by the Public Broadcasting Service, though the NET title did remain. In addition to episodes produced in the United States, the series also aired episodes that were originally produced and broadcast in the United Kingdom. The series occasionally broadcast feature films, such as L'Avventura and Knife in the Water.


The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. It is a nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational television programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as American Experience, America's Test Kitchen, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots, Frontline, The Magic School Bus, Masterpiece, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Nature, Nova, the PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street, and This Old House.PBS is funded by member station dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, corporate contributions, National Datacast, pledge drives, private foundations, and individual citizens. All proposed funding for programming is subject to a set of standards to ensure the program is free of influence from the funding source.Since the mid-2000s, Roper Opinion Research polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as the most-trusted national institution in the United States. A 2016–2017 study by Nielsen Media Research found 80% of all US television households view the network's programs. However, PBS is not responsible for all programming carried on public television stations, a large proportion of which may come from affiliates, including such member stations as WGBH, WETA, WNET, WTTW, American Public Television, and independent producers. This distinction regarding the origin of different programs is a frequent source of viewer confusion.The Public Broadcasting Service has more than 350 member television stations, many owned by educational institutions, nonprofit groups affiliated with one particular local public school district or collegiate educational institution, or entities owned by or related to state government.

The Muppets on Puppets

The Muppets on Puppets is a 1970 TV special created by Jim Henson. The special was produced in June 1968 at public television station WITF-TV in Hershey, Pennsylvania for National Educational Television (now PBS). It aired on New York’s WNET on January 5, 1970 as part of the station's Adventure in the Arts anthology series. Henson and company made three additional specials in color as part of the series at WITF-TV. The special is included as a bonus feature on the DVD set The Muppet Show: Season Three. This release includes a few audio drop-outs due to the video source.

The Rejected

The Rejected (1961) is a made-for-television documentary film about homosexuality, produced for KQED in San Francisco by John W. Reavis. The Rejected was the first documentary program on homosexuality broadcast on American television. It was first shown on KQED on September 11, 1961, and was later syndicated to National Educational Television (NET) stations across the United States. The Rejected received positive critical reviews.


WACS-TV "PBS GPB-TV UHF 25 Analog (Digital VHF 8)" part of the GPB network, is Georgia's ninth public television station and primarily serves the southern part of the Columbus market including Dawson and Americus. WACS' transmitter is located north of Parrott, Georgia. The station's signal travels in about a 40-mile (64-km) radius from the transmitter site and also reaches parts of southeastern Alabama.

WACS is one of GPB's most powerful stations, providing at least grade B coverage from Columbus to Albany. Although Columbus' GPB station of record is WJSP-TV, over-the-air viewers in most of the city get a much stronger signal from WACS. WJSP's transmitter in Warm Springs provides marginal coverage at best to most of Columbus itself, even though it is 45 minutes north of Columbus. By comparison, WACS' transmitter is almost an hour south. WACS also provides a strong signal to much of Albany though that city's GPB station of record is Pelham's WABW-TV, channel 14. All are satellites of Athens/Atlanta's WGTV, the network's flagship station. They simulcast an identical broadcast schedule with no local content.

WACS-TV Channel 25 signed on the air on Monday March 6, 1967 and being the 8th Television Station in The U.S. State of Georgia and the city of license is Dawson and connected to Americus & Cordele and within 2 Months after both sisters WABW-TV (Channel 14) & WCLP(-TV) (Channel 18) signed on in January 1967 are all 3 including WACS-TV 25 affiliated to The National Educational Television (NET) Network and on Monday October 5, 1970 NET became PBS through 2009. It's digital signal is permanently on channel 8 with roughly the same coverage.

Washington Week

Washington Week—previously Washington Week in Review—is an American public affairs television program, which has aired on PBS and its predecessor, National Educational Television, since 1967. Unlike other panel discussion shows which encourage informal (sometimes vociferous) debates as a means of presentation, Washington Week consistently follows a path of civility and moderation. Its format is that of a roundtable featuring the show's moderator between two and four Washington-based journalists. Its current weekly moderator is Robert Costa.

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