Commercial television deserves praise for its many achievements, but since its earliest days, almost everyone has agreed that it is also open to many criticisms. The Texas-Stanford Seminars, made possible by a grant from TV Guide magazine, were intended "to help bring about the general improvement of television," and to provide "a place and a climate for significant discussion." The vigorous and enthusiastic participation in the seminars by executives from the three major networks, from a number of group stations and independent producers, and from advertising agencies and some of the larger advertisers demonstrated the desire of the industry itself to recognize its own faults and to understand the complaints of its critics.
The Meaning of Commercial Television collects the speeches presented at the second of these seminars, in April 1966. Contributors include Harry S. Ashmore, George Schaefer, August Priemer, Leonard S. Matthews, Thomas Moore, David M. Potter, Paul Goodman, Marshall McLuhan, and John R. Silber. Also in the book are summaries of the discussions which followed each of the speeches, and an examination of the overall impact of the meeting and the conclusions which might be drawn from it. Some of the topics discussed are "numbers" rating method of evaluating television programs; the position in the television industry of the independent producer, of the advertiser, and of the television network, and television itself with respect to its history, social perspective, and other aspects of American life to which it is related.