Monday, May 9, 2011

Newton Minow - From wasteland to abundance

Fifty years ago, FCC Chairman Newton Minow called television a vast wasteland at his first NAB Convention.
In a recent op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, Minow turned his thoughts back to television., concluding that "the promise and possibility of television is so vast that we can only guess at where it will take us."
Yes, he writes, TV is far vaster than could be imagined in 1961, and parts of it are still wastelands.  The vastness is a reflection of the explosion of stations and networks, an abundance of outlets that "far exceeded my most ambition dreams," an explosion of choices for viewers and listeners.  As he quips, "wasteland has turned into broadband."
While still chastising the industry in two areas (the lack of public service time for candidates, and the low level of support for public broadcasting), Minow cautioned against over-regulation which could restrict competition.  It wasn't a new concern for Minow, who harkened back to another speech given in early 1962:
"For just as surely as a commercial is wrapped around a station break, the television industry in the long run faces one result or another: more competition or more regulation.  My own vote is for more competition.  And my faith is in the belief that this country needs and can support many voices of television - and the more voices we hear, the better, the richer and the freer we shall be."

Source: "From wasteland to broadband in 50 years" Chicago Tribune

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