Tuesday, May 9, 1961: 'Vast wasteland' speech

Newton Minow, newly appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, gives a provocative speech to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Washington, D.C. The speech is titled "Television and the Public Interest." In it, Minow says:

"... When television is good, nothing -- not the magazines or newspapers -- nothing is better.

"But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, with a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

"You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials -- many screaming, cajoling and offending. And, most of all, boredom."

* Text and audio of speech: @
* Biography (from Museum of Broadcast Communications): @
* 1999 interview (from Archive of American Television): @
* "The Vast Wasteland Revisited" (Federal Communications Law Journal, 2003): @

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