August 20, 2005

It Must Be Autumn

BACK IN 1961, then-FCC Chairman Newton Minow famously declared to the National Association of Broadcasters that television was a "vast wasteland." Here's the crux of Mr Minow's speech to the Association:

When television is good, nothing--not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers, nothing -- is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse.

I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you--and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.

You will see a procession of game shows, violence, audience-participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western badmen, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence and cartoons. And, endlessly, commercials -- many screaming, cajoling and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you will see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, try it.

"And most of all, boredom." Now that is a line. Still quite true, too.

Today, though, I am glad to report that I will not be bored while watching television, and I plan to watch until the broadcasters sign off. For not only do I have all the sports broadcasts -- baseball! football! basketball! -- I could ever want at my disposal, AMC is also showing three James Bond movies throughout the day.

This can only mean it is autumn. I only watch a little television for most of the year, but during fall there are few things more enjoyable than the cool weather and cool TV. You can't go wrong with news all week and sports all weekend. Could one ask for anything better?

I mean, aside from an a la carte ordering system via cable, so I wouldn't have to pay for Lifetime and all the other stations I never watch. But that's another post entirely. In the meantime, I plan to sit back and enjoy James Bond and the Red Sox.

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* Mr Minow's words are even more impressive when one considers the man was only 35 when he said them, and as such wasn't "square" or otherwise representative of an older generation of Americans. (Mr Minow went on to become an accomplished lawyer, and I believe he still practices today).

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 20, 2005 12:29 PM | TrackBack