Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive

IU and NET

To be young, gifted, and black cart

80 reels of film from the NET Playhouse Biography program "Lorraine Hansberry: to be young, gifted, and black" belonging to the NET Film Service. 

A large portion of IULMIA’s holdings originate from the legacy of the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center (AVC). The AVC served a critical role in NET’s history as well.

National Educational Television functioned as an exchange center comprised of many member stations. NET would distribute locally produced programs to other member stations.

In 1954, two years after the inception of NET, the President of the Educational Television and Radio Center Dr. H.K. Newburn began visiting film centers across the country seeking a distributor to send their materials to non-television viewing audiences. The AVC submitted a proposal and was selected to be the exclusive distributor. Under this contract, it was agreed that NET would provide the University with a master negative and the University would cover the costs of marketing in addition to ordering prints as needed from a film lab. The royalty owed to NET was reduced to reflect IU's capital contributions.⁹

This contract began in early 1955, with 120 NET programs available for distribution from Bloomington in what was now called the “NET Film Service.” As the primary location for selling and distributing, IU also came to hold many original elements as well - including answer prints, A and B rolls, negatives, and soundtrack.

NET Film Service label

A film can from the Moving Image Archive with the NET Film Service label.

The Film Service did more than merely store and ship prints of NET titles. Audio-Visual Center staff worked to identify groups that might be interested in these educational programs and then began marketing said programs to those groups. They also conducted research related to the promotion, distribution, utilization, audience acceptance, and influence of educational television materials.¹⁰ Much of this paper material is now under the care of the Moving Image Archive and University Archives. In April 1957, AVC Director L.C. Larson reported that "over 150,000 individual film users throughout the United States have received rental and sale information mailed directly from Bloomington.”¹² 

The University's involvement with NET was not limited to the Film Service, either. President Herman B Wells felt a strong commitment to the concept of educational television as an emerging mode of instruction. He served of the Board of Directors for National Educational Television from 1957 to 1970.

Page from 1959...a year in progress

A worker shelving films at the Audio-Visual Center.¹⁴

Between 1956 and 1965, income from the Film Service, including the sale and rental of NET materials, exceeded 1.5 million dollars in revenue for the AVC.¹³ The relationship with NET was a symbiotic one – and provided a strong foundation of income that allowed the AVC to purchase more prints to circulate as well as to fund production of their own films.