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General Policies Governing Broadcasting Services at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville - 6B1


The necessity for educational broadcasting parallels the need of the American people to know and to understand so that they can govern themselves. Educational uses of broadcasting are based on the American people's fundamental rights to both the means of education and the means of communication. These rights, as expressed first in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, and continued through the Constitution and repeated interpretations by the Supreme Court of the United States, can be extended and preserved through educational uses of the electronic media.

The justification of educational broadcasting is its single-minded service to the "public interest, convenience, or necessity." "Single-minded service" means that it regards the listeners and viewers as the ends and itself as the means; that it has an economic base consistent with its social purposes; and that it has a set of purposes coherent, not conflicting, one with another.

"Public interest, convenience, or necessity" is defined as an attempt by broadcasting services to be a positive and constructive force in the lives of people who listen and view. Only listeners and viewers can ultimately decide what is positive and constructive for them, but broadcasting services must give leadership and use judgment and skill in offering opportunities.

Responsibility and freedom are taken as two sides of the same coin. Both derive reciprocally from the people's right to know and understand. A workable relationship between freedom and constraint is always required. Freedom in broadcasting is delegated in behalf of the people. That broadcasting must use this freedom with responsibility is a truth so easily stated and so easily accepted that it means little, because arbitrary definitions of "responsibility" can negate freedom. Moreover, in a larger sense, freedom is a basic requirement for the fulfillment of responsibility. This is harder to evade, because the test is not definitional, but one of actual fact. How does broadcasting serve the people? In operation, in what ways does broadcasting service help the people govern their public and private affairs?

Goals of Broadcasting Services - SIUE

The goal of broadcasting services is to give the people the widest possible access to the world through radio and television. Several specific purposes follow from this statement:

  1. Resources should be used to facilitate significant instructional efforts at every level.

  2. Individuals and groups should be provided reasonable access to the media. Questions of limited available time and subjective judgments by those who apportion the time must be met by applying the principle of "How to give the people the widest possible access to the world."

  3. Material broadcast should be truthful and fair--that is, accurate, objective, significant, and balanced. Accuracy involves attempts to keep to a minimum the errors that are inevitable because people are fallible and the media have limitations. Objectivity involves distinguishing as clearly as possible between reportage, background and context, interpretation, opinion, and advocacy. It requires elevating loyalty to truthfulness and fairness above personal likes and dislikes. Significance involves attempts to help listeners and viewers understand what news, events, and issues may mean to them and their community. Balance involves attempts to avoid distortion from no matter what forces.

  4. Broadcasting services should seek to enlarge the people's awareness of the world and of the range of opportunities and choices that are, or might be, available to them. The best and the worst of society must be shown so that they can be recognized for what they are. In dealing with social change, it must be understood that change is taking place and will take place regardless of what the media do. It is broadcasting services' primary role to facilitate access to experiences, information, ideas, proposals and counter-proposals, and arguments for and against, so that the people are more aware and better prepared to make their own assessments and conclusions. Matters commonly called questions of "taste" should be dealt with sensitively. Efforts to shock and offend for the sake of shocking and offending must not be engaged in. However, it is realized that the only way to avoid offending some people's "taste" is to avoid treatment of problems that by their very nature are distasteful. The Federal Communications Commission properly gives broadcast licensees a wide latitude of judgment in matters of "taste" and "decency." But this latitude should neither be used to restrict access of persons or subject matters, nor to condone gross improprieties.

  5. As an educational, non-commercial licensee, broadcasting services is prohibited from editorializing in the political process by the Communications Act of 1934 as Amended. However, broadcasting can be a major instrument in the improvement of the political process defined in terms of campaigning and governmental decisions; and defined in terms of the vast array of activities that are explicitly political or governmental, including the work of associations or groups that conduct public business or seek to influence public opinion or policy. Free questioning, discussion, and reply can only improve what might better be called the social process.

The performance of broadcasting services must be both a justifiable exercise of freedom under the Constitution of the United States, and a convincing statement of the people's right to education and the right to know.

Specific Policies Governing WSIE-FM

WSIE-FM is a non-commercial F.M. radio station of SIUE. Its license, granted by the Federal Communications Commission, is held by the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. The responsibility for fulfilling the requirements of the license is shared by the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor of SIUE, and the Director of Broadcasting Services and his staff.

The objective of WSIE-FM shall be to provide educational, cultural, and general information service to a region including west-central and southwestern Illinois and eastern Missouri, especially the audience of 2.4 million in the 8 counties comprising metropolitan St. Louis (Illinois counties: Clinton, Madison, Monroe, St. Clair; Missouri counties: St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson).

The station will give priority to offering alternative programming to that currently available in commercial A.M. and F.M. schedules in the area. The station shall strive to be a means by which the resources of the University are brought to its service area and, in turn, the needs of that area are brought to the attention of the university community. The station shall seek to fulfill the university's goals of instruction, research, and service through its programming. The station will utilize as fully as possible the resources of the university's faculty and staff, as well as resources of the population of the area services, in the initiation, preparation, and presentation of programs.

Three basic programming elements will constitute the bulk of WSIE-FM's air time. Cultural enrichment and general informational programs shall always constitute a major part of the offerings of WSIE-FM. These include the presentation of symphony orchestras and other musical forms, dramatic presentations, and documentaries and news programs of local, national, or international scope. Service programs geared to needs and interests of the station's service area will be developed and aired as a second programming category. Entertainment programming including live or recorded drama, poetry, musical talent, and selected athletic events will constitute the third major programming area of the station.

While involvement of academic departments, administrative units, and campus organizations in program-planning, production, and implementation shall be used as appropriate, only the Director of Broadcasting shall be responsible for and authorized to determine specifics in respect to the station's programming. He, in turn, shall be responsible to the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees for the discharge of these policy guidelines in a manner consistent with public obligation under prevailing F.C.C. regulations.

As a matter of policy, WSIE-FM further shall serve as a training laboratory for students who are pursuing broadcasting as a profession. Station management shall strive to instruct students, operating under close professional supervision, apply techniques and methodologies of the broadcasting trade, and to assist them in acquiring a sound philosophy of broadcasting. This laboratory training, coupled with formal instruction and research, will be designed to prepare for the profession of broadcasting individuals who will be knowledgeable, intuitive, and responsive to the interests and needs of the people they serve.

Specific Policies Governing Television Services

Although Southern Illinois University Edwardsville does not have a television facility with broadcast capability, it is recognized that the University does possess television studio facilities of a high calibre. These studios and related facilities shall be used for instruction laboratory purposes for students seeking professional training in television in accord with policies (above) governing WSIE-FM.

In addition, the Director of Broadcasting is authorized, under direction to be received from the Chancellor of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, to develop such external-oriented applications of these facilities as may be appropriate and feasible from time to time, in conjunction with public affairs units of other television stations in metropolitan St. Louis with any other public television facilities, or in respect to public affairs facets of cable television operations.

At such time as television broadcast capability is achieved at Edwardsville, programming and station policies shall conform in principle to the policies set forth above in respect to WSIE-FM, unless otherwise determined by the Board of Trustees.

Approved by President effective 4/20/79
This policy was issued on November 22, 2002, replacing the February 1, 1996 version.
Document Reference: 6B1
Origin: VII Code A; OC 10/15/80

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