is a distinguished broadcast executive known for the leadership
he brought to CBS, Inc. during his 25 year presidency (1946--71).
His guidance gave CBS crucial stability during the company's critical
growth period. More than just a corporate president, however, Stanton
acquired a reputation as the unofficial spokesperson for the broadcasting
industry. His opinions were routinely sought, his speeches repeatedly
quoted, and his testimony before Congress recognized as a major
part of any debate in the broadcasting field.
fascinated with radio from his days in graduate school at Ohio State,
chiefly by the question of why people reacted positively to certain
radio shows but negatively to others. He used his doctoral research
in the Psychology department to answer this question, examining
why and how people perceive various stimuli. He analyzed the audio
and visual effectiveness of information transmission and established
test procedures for making rough measurements of their effectiveness.
His dissertation, "A Critique of Present Methods and a New Plan
for Studying Radio Listening Behavior," caught the attention of
CBS, and launched his career in the audience research department
In 1937, Stanton
began a collaboration with Dr. Paul Lazarsfeld of Columbia University.
They devised a program analysis system nicknamed "Little Annie."
While Stanton tends to downplay the importance of the machine, others
have credited it with being the first qualitative measurement device.
"Little Annie" determines the probability of a program's appeal
by suggesting how large an audience that program would be likely
to attract. The system was devised for radio, but continues to be
used for television, reporting an accuracy rate of 85%.
promoted to vice president of CBS in 1942, and in 1946, at the age
of 38, to the presidency. In this position, he guided CBS through
a period of diversification and expansion. He reorganized the company
in 1951, creating separate administrations for radio, TV and CBS
Laboratories, a plan that served as a model for other broadcast
companies. He helped CBS expand its operations by decentralizing
its administration and creating autonomous divisions with a range
of new investments, including the purchase of the New York Yankees
in 1964. CBS also bought the book publisher, Holt, Rinehart and
Winston and Creative Playthings, manufacturer of high-quality educational
toys. Diversification paid off for CBS; the company earned $1 billion
in annual sales in 1969.
of CBS, Stanton concentrated on organizational and policy questions,
leaving the entertainment programming and the discovering and nurturing
of talent to Chairman, William S. Paley. Stanton was also responsible
for the political issues growing out of the network's news department.
He was instrumental in bringing about the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon televised
presidential debate and is known for his efforts to repeal Section
315 of the Federal Communications Act, which requires networks to
grant equal time to all political candidates. A staunch proponent
of broadcast journalism and defender of broadcasting's First Amendment
rights, he led campaigns before Congress and in the courts on behalf
of the broadcast industry for access and protection equal to that
of the printed press.
battle with the government occurred in 1971, and focused on just
this parallel to print press rights. The controversy surrounded
The Selling of the Pentagon, a CBS News documentary,
which exposed the huge expenditure of public funds, partly illegal,
to promote militarism. The confrontation raised the issue of whether
television news programming deserved protection under the First
Amendment. Against threat of jail, Stanton refused the subpoena
from the House Commerce Committee ordering him to provide copies
of the outtakes and scripts from the documentary. He claimed that
such materials are protected by the freedom of the press guaranteed
by the First Amendment. Stanton observed that if such subpoena actions
were allowed, there would be a "chilling effect" upon broadcast
But long before
this particular case, and long before Watergate or Vietnam, CBS
was the first broadcasting network to seriously examine the negative
side of Washington politics on television. One of the earliest of
these explorations occurred on the news program See It Now,
in which host Edward R. Murrow confronted U.S. Senator, Joseph McCarthy.
The program was constructed using film clips of McCarthy's accusatory
speeches and Murrow refuting his charges. McCarthy demanded, and
was granted, time for a response, and in that blustery performance
many observers see the downfall of McCarthyism. In retrospect, the
two programs were among the most important in the history of television.
Photo courtesy of Frank Stanton
even of this immediate sort, however, had a more difficult time
attracting sponsors than did entertainment programs and for this
reason See It Now was canceled following the 1958 season. Appalled
by what the broadcasting industry had become, Murrow spoke before
the Television News Directors Association and delivered what was
to become known as one of the most famous public tongue lashings
in media history, aimed directly at Stanton and Paley. The relationship
between Stanton and Murrow soured into accusations and name-calling
and was widely reported in the press.
received the title of vice chairman in 1972, one year before the
mandatory retirement age of 65. Upon retiring Stanton still held
$13 million worth of CBS stock and he remained a director of CBS
and consultant to the corporation under a contract that lasted until
Jowett and Laura Ashley
STANTON. Born in Muskegon, Michigan, U.S., 20 March 1908. Educated
at Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, B.A. 1930; Ohio State
University, Ph.D. 1935; diplomate from American Board of Professional
Psychology. Worked in CBS research department (later CBS-TV), New
York City, 1935-45; president, CBS Inc., 1946-71 (was cited by three
committees of the House of Representatives for contempt of Congress
for refusal to grant access to CBS News' "outtakes" in connection
with the CBS broadcast of The Selling of the Pentagon, 1971), vice-chair,
1971-73, president emeritus, since 1973; chair, Rand Corporation,
Santa Monica, California, 1961-67, trustee, 1957-78; U.S. Advanced
Communications Info., Washington, 1964-73; chair, ARC, Washington,
1973-79, vice chair, League of Red Cross Societies, Geneva, Switzerland,
1973-80; chair, visiting committee, Kennedy School of Government,
1979-85; chair (now retired), Broadcast International Inc.; director,
Capital Income Builder, Inc., Capital World Growth & Income Fund,
Inc., Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. Member: founding member and
chair, Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, Stanford,
California, 1953-60, trustee, 1953-71; Business Council, Washington,
since 1956 (honorary); National Portrait Gallery Commission, Washington,
since 1973; board of overseers, Harvard College, 1978-84; President's
Committee on Arts and Humanities, Washington, 1983-90; honorary
director and trustee, William Benton Foundation, Bryant Park Restoration
Corporation, Educational Broadcasting Corporation; emeritus trustee
and director, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Rockefeller
Foundation, Carnegie Institution Washington. Recipient: Paul White
Memorial Awards, Radio and TV News Directors Association, 1957 and
1971; Peabody Awards, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, and 1972; Trustees
Awards, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1959 and
1972; Special Honor Award, AIA, 1967; International Directorate
Award, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1980; named
to TV Academy Hall of Fame, 1986, Market Research Council of New
York, 1988. Address: 25 West 52nd Street, New York City, New York,
Some Physiological Reactions to Emotional Stimuli, 1932;
Factors in Visual Depth Perception, 1936.
Editor, with Paul Lazarsfeld. Radio Research, 1941.
New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1941.
Editor, with Paul Lazarsfeld. Radio Research, 1942-43. New
York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1943.
with Paul Lazarsfeld. Communications Research, 1948-49. New
York: Harper, 1949.
Smith, Sally Bedell. In All His Glory: The Life of William S.
Paley, the Legendary Tycoon and His Brilliant Circle. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1990.
Research, Industry and Marketing Perspective; Columbia
Broadcasting System; Murrow,
William S.; See
It Now; Selling
of the Pentagon