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Although ITVS is, at this late date, just now signing its initial production contracts with CPB, it has already accomplished a great deal. The service issued its first request for proposals, sending over 24,000 applications to independents throughout the country. This was the first truly comprehensive national mailing from any media organization and was carefully directed to producers who are generally overlooked, particularly regional producers, emerging talent and producers of color. As a result of ITVS's unprecedented attempt at broadening opportunity, we received 2,040 proposals this past month--the largest response to any media funding initiative of which we have heard. Clearly there are a host of individual voices eager to speak through the national media if given the opportunity.
The public broadcasting system currently is putting all its eggs into a primetime, big-splash basket designed to complete with cable for large audiences. ITVS, on the other hand, is dedicated to spreading its money around the country with a variety of quality, low-budget programs uniquely creative and diverse. ITVS is dedicated to funding projects which public television otherwise might not fund. As such, it offers public television what we might think of as an “incubator”: when ITVS programs succeed, they should become models for similar kinds of programming. The net result should be to invite the system to be less adverse to risk, to discover different ways of relating to its audience, and to make it clear to audiences who have traditionally felt excluded that there is a continuing place for them on public television. As a lifelong believer in public television, I can think of no higher mission.
Over the next years the Independent Television Service will prove its worth by offering viewers great programming. In the mean time, due to our late start, and to the requirement of forward funding, we must trust that this committee will recognize the service as one of exceptional promise, one deserving of substantially increased support.
Senator HARKIN. Mr. Schott, thank you very much. This subcommittee is well aware of the $8 million and the mandate to CPB to get the $8 million out. But this is the first year of that.
Mr. SCHOTT. That is correct.
Senator HARKIN. And you say that you have had 2,040 proposals this past month. How many do you hope to fund of those?
Mr. SCHOTT. Well, that will depend on a panel. I would hope that, out of that, we might fund something like 15 programs for public television. And, of course, that is not our entire initiative, it is only one aspect of it.
Senator HARKIN. I do not understand that; 15 out of 2,040?
Mr. SCHOTT. Well, unfortunately, that is the case. We have a tremendous desire by independent producers across the country to produce for public television. And we will be setting aside roughly $2 million out of $6 million for this one initiative. There will be many other opportunities in programs by which people can apply, but there is a tremendous desire by independent producers to speak through television and a paucity of dollars.
Senator HARKIN. What do you mean, on page 2, when you say that "ITVS's mandate, on the other hand, is not compatible with corporate underwriting.” What is your mandate? What does that mean?
Mr. SCHOTT. Well, we feel that corporate underwriting over the last 5 to 10 years has become extremely conservative. It seeks to produce programs that reflect its corporate identity. It has become very nervous about any programs which are controversial and it has wanted to celebrate rather than to provide any kind of criticism through television. It is looking for a very wide demographic which serves it. It is not particularly interested in regional issues. Corporate funding has not been particularly concerned about the issues of minorities. And so it has become very narrow and defined. And public television has responded to that. We are not back with the old days, 20 years ago, in which there was widespread support in corporate America for unusual and nontraditional programs. So part of this conservatism within the system has come from trying to find a program idea that is acceptable to a corporate funder.
We believe that public television is really going to serve its original mandate, that it has to be prepared to fund things which conservative corporations are not prepared to fund.
Senator HARKIN. When you give these grants out to independent producers, what assurance do you have that public television is going to carry it?
Mr. SCHOTT. Well, we are confident that the procedures by which we will be able to select those programs will, first of all, make them good programs. Out of 2,000 programs, we will have the opportunity of say, choosing the best 15. I think that gives us great confidence. Beyond that, we will provide a variety of production supports to see that those programs are moving forward, to work with the individual producers creatively, and we will also have a wide range of the kind of ascertainments around the country to define the issues that ITVS should be responding to. So I think we are quite confident that we will have a series of first rate programs. But like anyone else who produces for public television, we will have no guarantees that the program will be run, any more
than WNET in New York, or WGBH in Boston would have a guarantee.
Senator HARKIN. When will we see the first programs coming through?
Mr. SCHOTT. Well, if we fund some things this summer, I think we could assume that some of the first of them will hit the airwaves roughly early in 1992. It would be about 1 year from now.
Senator HARKIN. Well I look forward to it. I must tell you that I am on track with you in terms of what you say. I think there are a lot of people out there with a lot of good ideas to do some programing that for one reason or another is just not being done. And I think that this would tend to increase, perhaps, some of the viewership of public television.
Mr. SCHOTT. Yes, sir, we believe so.
Senator HARKIN. I assume that some of the things that you might be supporting might not really be of a national character. It
a might just go to a local area, or something like that. Would that be right? I mean, let us say that you had an independent producer that wanted to produce something that might be of great interest to a local area, but not necessarily to the Nation as a whole. Would you look upon something like that?
Mr. SCHOTT. We would certainly be prepared to. The initial idea in public television is that individual audiences and communities would be served by individual programming directed toward them. As we move to a much more competitive environment and a market driven environment, now the schedulers have to look to see how it is going to play to everybody across the country.
And if, for example, from a regional point of view, or in terms of programming that might speak to native American concerns, the judgment is that if this will not appeal, or be a popular program to people all over the country, it does not get run. So ITVS believes it will provide a place in which some of those alternative programs can be made. Although, I must say that cannot be our exclusive strategy.
Senator HARKIN. Well, Mr. Schott, thank you very much for being here. And I wish you the best in terms of your initial year. This committee will certainly do what we can to continue our support.
Mr. SCHOTT. We thank you for your continuing support, sir.
STATEMENT OF DR. LEWIS JUDD, NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR THE MEN.
TALLY ILL Senator HARKIN. Next is Dr. Lewis Judd from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
And again, your statement will be made a part of the record at this time.
Dr. JUDD. Well, good morning, Mr. Chairman.
For the record, my name is Dr. Lewis Judd. I am currently the chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego, but for the last 3 years, up until mid-October, I was the director of the National Institute of Mental Health here in Washington. And I am speaking this morning on behalf of the National Alliance for the Mentally ill, which is the fastest growing,
largest mental health advocacy group in the United States today, with over 130,000 and 1,000 chapters and involve your State and others on the committee.
Mr. Chairman, I have a written testimony which I would respectfully request to submit for the record. And in the short time that I have before the committee this morning, I would like to cover several points with the committee. First, I am here to talk on behalf of the budget of the National Institute of Mental Health. As you well know, the NIMH is the focal point in the Federal Government and for the Nation concerning issues of mental illness and mental health.
The NIMH has, as its mandate, to exercise national leadership, and to also provide science-based answers for all the problems that plague the mentally ill in this country. This is a very, very broad mandate, and a very important one because we are increasingly finding that the mythology in this country that mental illnesses are rare is not true. The fact is that NIMH science has fully established that mental disorders are among the most common and disabling disorders that human beings experience.
At any one point in time, 12.6 percent of our population is afflicted with a mental disorder which requires a diagnosis and an artful and scientific treatment. Mental disorders cost this country $129 billion in direct costs and lost productivity each year. But as grim as these statistics are, this is a time of great hope. We have made phenomenal progress in the last 15 years. In fact, more progress in beginning to solve the mental disorders and mental illnesses, than in all of recorded history prior to this time. This is a scientific field that is on the move. It is a scientific field that is growing exponentially. And it is a scientific field that is really delivering on its promissory notes.
And it is on that basis that NAMI and the Ad Hoc Biomedical Research Coalition are advocating and supporting and urging your consideration of a budget for the NIMH for this year of $867.9 million. That is $209.1 million over that of the administration's request at this point in time. The rationale for this is that this is money that will be well spent, efficiently spent on superb science and on superb demonstration research programs.
The time has come for us to begin to make a fundamental and important investment in largely solving these mental disorders. With this level of budget, Mr. Chairman, the NIMH will be able to continue this momentum in science that has occurred in the last few years thanks to appropriations from this committee under your leadership. It will be able to fund 30 percent of approved grants, and be able to initiate the major national plans that the Institute is at the current time implementing: the national plan for schizo phrenia research, the Decade of the Brain research plan, and the national plan for child and adolescent mental disorders.
In addition, the Institute council will soon submit to this committee a new national plan to focus on improving care for individuals with severe mental disorders in this country. We urge your consideration of this.
There are times, Mr. Chairman, really in the history of every biomedical research discipline when the conceptual framework combines with the scientific technology to restructure and reorient an entire field and to thrust it forward in a quantum leap of progress. That is precisely what is happening at the NIMH today. And we would urge your strong consideration to maintain that thrust by the consideration of the budget that NAMI and the others are requesting for the NIMH of this year, $867.9 million.
We are prepared to answer any questions you may have. [The statement follows: