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science and the citizen."
It is a large undertaking for a
small organization, but the public response has been
tremendous--enough so that I would offer its progress as
antoehr small piece of evidence that there is a strong,
vital interest in information about on the part of the
We have just printed the 3rd issue of
the magazine--called SCIENCE 80--and the circulation is
about 350,000 and climbing.
I have provided copies of
this issue for the Committee.
Since SCIENCE 80 was launched, several commercial,
publishers have also begun considering new popular science
magazines--including the Hearst Corporation and Time, Inc.
So apparently the AAAS is not alone in sensing a strong
public demand for more information about science.
What does this boom in sceince publishing mean for science
education activities? The conclusion I draw--I should say
that I am certainly no expert in science education--is that the
need for science education in the broadest sense of the term
has never been greater.
Our world is changing rapidly and
science is perhaps the most powerful cause of that transfor
mation, a gene for change within the social fabric or our
It is essential that we understand it and manage
To put the point in more personal terms--I am an editor
and on the receiving end of many letters and communications
from readers, hot-tempered and otherwise.
I can assure
this Committee that there is a very vocal and concerned
lay audience out there for science and technology matters in
It is important that their concerns and their
need for information not be neglected.
Mr. Brown. Thank you very much, Dr. Hammond.
If I may, I would like to go on to the other members of the panel and have them each present their statements before we go into questions.
[The biographical sketch of Mr. Rhodes follows:]
177 Lakeview Ave., Cambridge, Mass.
University College of North Wales, Bangor.
B.S. Honors Zoology with Applied Zoology, 1960. Awarded Sir William Roberts Scholarship to study for second degree.
Then research for Ph.D. working on population studies of blowflies. Thesis completed but never submitted.
1964—Joined BBC. Talks Producer for Science Unit of Talks and Current Alfairs Dept. Radio. Produced “Science Survey”, “Who Knows?", and "Science Review", and many individual programs for the Third Programme.
1967—Started a new weekly science magazine for Radio 4 called "New Worlds".
1968—Attached as an Associate Producer to Science and Features Department, Television. Worked on Tomorrow's World. Started with HORIZON, making 50-minute film documentaries. Co-directed “A Disease of Our Time” on heart disease and “A Much Wanted Child".
1971-Appointed as Producer. Films include: “The Wood", "Rail Crash", "Alaskan Pipe Dream", "The Making of A Natural History Film”, “How Much Do You Smell?”, “Rheumatism”, “I'm Dependent, You're Addicted".
1972—Appointed Editor of the BBC's Natural History Unit at Bristol. The Unit has a staff of about 45 people and makes about 100 television programs each year. The Editor has overall editorial responsibility for the programs, but delegates much of it to the Executive Producers. Also responsible for the administration, organization, and development of the Unit. Total program budget exceeds £1 million.
1978—Appointed head of newly formed Science Unit at WGBH-TV, Boston. Responsibilities include developing other science programming alongside NOVA for broadcast over the national Public Broadcast System.
1968-Prix Italia for “Mr. Blake".
British Association of Film and Television Arts, Best Factual Program of the Year.
STATEMENT OF MICK RHODES, STATION WGBH, BOSTON, MASS.
Mr. RHODES. I will be as brief as I can. Much that Allen has said I would have said. So let me pick out the differences between my testimony and his. My experience is rather different in that I can compare, specifically, science television and radio in this country with scientific television and radio in Britain, where the majority of my experience lies. If I may, to save time, I will skip over radio and draw your attention to the quantity of scientific television in Britain and the quantity of scientific television here.
I hasten to add that these figures are little more than guesstimates, and please do not put too much faith in them. To try and bring myself to comparable figures, let me concentrate on the quantity of sciencebased television for general audiences transmitted during the evening rather than specifically educational programs at other times of the day, or school programs.
First, in the United Kingdom quite a number of science-based programs reach audiences of 20 percent of the population frequently. That is not unusual. And they occasionally reach 15 million, which is 30 percent of the population. Those would be very big figures for a science-based program here.
The second thing is that if you add up the three channels available to most British television viewers, you come to a figure of something like 170 hours per year for the two BBC channels—this is for generalaudience science programs—plus another 25 or 30 hours from the commercial channel, giving you approximately 200 hours of evening science programs during the year.
Now, making a guess—and I admit it is an enormous guess—at the number of evening science programs available through the television here, I come to something like half that, something like 107 hours; I know these figures are inaccurate, but they are not that inaccurate.
There is, I think, a very clear case to be made that there is much less general science television available to the general audience here than in the United Kingdom. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, I leave you to decide, but I think it is almost certainly a fact. Now, that is my first point, and I really only want to make two points.
My second point is that there seemed to be quite a number of indications that there is a larger appetite for science TV than we are at the moment fulfilling. As a general rule, in surveys done within PBS of those programs of which more are needed, asked for, wanted by the audience, they come up with science and wildlife at the front of a list of programs people want more of.
Nova” is consistently one of the higher, if not highest, regular audience programs within PBS. Now, the audiences are tiny compared with the commercial channels, but it is nevertheless, as far as PBS goes, a very great audience. They are tough to watch sometimes, but, nevertheless, they go up to 5 million people. And the “National Geographics” go out to larger audiences than that.
Coming specifically to the area of wildlife programs, last year I did quite a bit of research work on appetites for wildlife information. Between 1970 and 1974, when there as an enormous surge in the number of wildlife programs, there was also a surge in audience: the audience doubled. Since then, it has actually become smaller while all other indicators indicate that interest in wildlife and biology continues to rise. There have been increases in sale of birdseed, binoculars, and all sorts of things. It seems to me that the interest is there.
Now, I have one more small piece of information. At a recent PBS meeting of all of the 283 station managers, I was under very heavy pressure to try and run "Nova” 52 weeks a year. I do not know how to run “Nova" 52 weeks a year. We don't have the programs or the funds to start with. However, the station managers would very much like that to happen.
So, in summary, general-audience science TV here is probably half that available in Britain. And it seems to me that there is quite considerable evidence that the general public would like it not to be that way. The kind of costs that we are talking about, the funds turned over to us by the National Science Foundation—and they are one of our funders-is something like a third of a penny per program per viewer. The total cost per viewer is something like 4 cents. It is not, when you express it in those terms, a great deal of money. I realize that when you put it all together it is a great deal of money, and I realize there are enormous claims on the money that is available. However, I think that kind of investment is important. I think it is very important to the production of programs on science.