Non-commercial, educational television pioneer, C. (Cyril) Scott Fletcher, was born July 28, 1904 in Sydney, Australia to Michael Scott and Winifred Sarah Fletcher. He attended Newington College in Sydney, Australia from 1916 to 1918 and then the University of Sydney, from 1919 to 1922. At Sydney University C. Scott Fletcher received a diploma in Economics and Commerce.
During his enrollment at Sydney University, Fletcher joined Cayce-Paul Motors Limited, the Studebaker distributor in New South Wales, Australia. There he worked as a mechanic in the works and assembly plant. Fletcher eventually joined the Studebaker Corporation of Australasia Limited. At Studebaker, he worked his way up the corporate ladder and served in a variety of managerial positions at various international sites including: China, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and Rhodesia. He eventually became the international vice-president of Studebaker, just prior to World War II. At Studebaker, Fletcher was able to learn the automobile industry, travel the globe and befriend the president of Studebaker, Paul Hoffman.
It was Paul Hoffman who requested Fletcher be given leave from Studebaker to join United China Relief Inc. There, he became the Executive Vice Chairman of United China Relief Inc., in 1942, and helped raise over 7 million dollars for the Chinese allies of the United States.
In the year 1942, Fletcher also joined the Committee for Economic Development (CED), in Washington D.C., and served as its Field Director from 1942 to 1943. In New York from 1943 to 1946 Fletcher served as the Executive Director of the Committee and from 1947 to 1952 he was a trustee. The goal of the Committee for Economic Development was to facilitate a quick transition from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy. The aims of the Committee were to stimulate economic development and provide jobs. These goals were reached under the leadership of C. Scott Fletcher until his resignation in 1946 from both the Committee for Economic Development and also the Studebaker Corporation. In 1946 Fletcher was appointed as a trustee to CED, a position which he held until he was asked to join the Ford Foundation in 1951.
While a trustee at the Committee for Economic Development, Fletcher was asked by William Benton, Publisher of Encyclopedia Britannica, to become the President of Encyclopedia Britannica Films Inc., Chicago, Illinois. With Encyclopedia Britannica Films, he oversaw the creation of films and filmstrips for classroom purposes. This marked the beginning of C. Scott Fletcher's career in education.
C. Scott Fletcher remained President of Encyclopedia Britannica Films from 1946 to 1951. In late 1950, William Benton, vice-chairman of the Committee for Economic Development, talked with Paul Hoffman who had become the director of the Ford Foundation, about convincing C. Scott Fletcher to become president of an unnamed Fund. This fund was to be established through the Ford Foundation and with its focus on adult education. The unnamed fund in May of 1951 became the Fund for Adult Education. In January of 1951 C. Scott Fletcher joined the Ford Foundation, having resigned from Encyclopedia Britannica Films, and became president of the Fund for Adult Education. It was as president of the Fund for Adult Education that C. Scott Fletcher began his work in the field of non-commercial educational television.
C. Scott Fletcher, during his ten years with the Fund for Adult Education, helped establish and fund the first thirty non-commercial television stations in the United States. He was instrumental in garnering support from civic and business leaders, government officials, educators and citizens for the establishment of ETV (educational television) stations across the country. He also helped to fund the first National Educational Television and Radio Program Center in 1954, which marked the beginning of the national program service. Under Fletcher's leadership, the Ford Foundation's Fund For Adult Education provided more than $11,000,000 for the advancement of educational television over a ten-year period. During his ten years at the Fund for Adult Education, 1951-1961, Fletcher remained a loyal advocate of non-commercial television as an educational vehicle.
Eventually the Fund for Adult Education was reabsorbed by its parent, the Ford Foundation. Fletcher decided to retire from the field of education and educational television and establish his own management and communications consulting business in 1961, which he maintained until 1972.
In 1964 Fletcher returned from retirement to become the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Educational Television Stations (ETS), a division of the National Association for Educational Broadcasters (NAEB). ETS, under Fletcher, was responsible for the founding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). CPB was signed into existence by President Lyndon B. Johnson, November 7, 1967, after the passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. The efforts of C.Scott Fletcher combined with those of ETS, NAEB, and the Carnegie Commission, were influential forces that enabled the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Fletcher served as a Chief Liaison Officer between ETS and NAEB from 1967-1971 and then in 1971 he retired from the field for a second time.
After his final retirement, C. Scott Fletcher remained active in many causes such as the "save the beaches" campaign in his hometown in Florida. Throughout his later years he maintained constant correspondence with congressmen and businessmen, stating his opinions and sharing his stories.
C. Scott Fletcher died in Pasadena, California on March 17, 1991.