Roger D. Fisher 42, professor of Law, will be the executive editor of a new, nationally broadcast television show on public policy issues.
During a one-year leave of absence from Harvard he will work on "The Advocates," which is funded by the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. WGBH in Boston and KCET in Los Angeles will produce the show this year.
The weekly, educational television program will feature two "advocates," trained lawyers arguing both sides of a specific public policy question before a "decision-maker" and a studio audience. Both the studio and home audiences will be asked to vote on the issue after the debate.
Jesse Unruh, Speaker of the California House of Delegates, will be the decision-maker for the first show. "Smog Versus the Auto," to be aired October 5. The live, hour-long show concerns a bill in the California legislature which would ban the sale of internal combustion machines in the state after 1975.
"The Advocates" developed from a series of six shows called "It's Up To You" which Fisher did for WGBH last spring. That show was a local version of "The Advocates" in which interested citizens, instead of trained lawyers, debated policy questions.
Fisher said that when the Ford Foundation was looking for a replacement for the Public Broadcasting Laboratory (PBL) it asked KCET and WGBH. PBL. and a group of eight stations to propose a new show. Ford liked the WGBH-KCET proposal. "I did not seek the grant at all," Fisher said. "I was drafted for the show."
The topics for the program will be specific. Instead of debating the Vietnam War, the October 19 show will debate Sen. Charles E. Goodell's (R-N. Y.) proposal to stop Vietnam spending by December, 1970.
"Most media are abysmal in that they talk about all aspects of a problem such as old age or drugs but do not organize the choice for anybody." Fisher said. "It's important to say, 'Here is a choice.'"
A telephone hook-up to let viewers across the country vote on the issues is planned for later shows.