Monday, June 29, 2015

The Vast Wasteland

Cable New beats a page two story to death!
"Television and the Public Interest" was a speech given by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Newton N. Minow to the convention of the National Association of Broadcasters on May 9, 1961. The speech was Minow's first major speech after he was appointed chairman of the FCC by President John F Kennedy. In the speech, Minow referred to American commercial television programming as a "vast wasteland" and advocated for programming in the public interest.

"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 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, without 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. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it."

54 years later the only thing to have change in the TV wasteland is the vastness, now there are hundreds of mindless TV channels to choose from! I’m in the mood for a little rant about Television especially after spending a good amount of time in the hospital with no books, computer or smart phone, only a TV screen about 3 feet from my head. So yes out of boredom I verified Mr. Minow's experiment many times. Yes true to scientific experiments it is repeatable and verifiable! I’m astounded why books are not more popular as a brief exposure to TV should surely send book sales skyrocketing!

Let’s take a look at the corporate approach to TV and advertisers. From the beginning TV was not possible without revenue from corporate sponsors. So the dilemma for TV people was how we can hold the interest of our viewer’s in-between commercials. So this is where modern TV programming sprung from, and the TV show was born. Soon a variety of TV shows was created and continues to be created today in an effort to hold viewers’ attention between commercials.

Guess what the powers to be found out? The quality and content of the fillers didn’t matter any junk they could come up with worked just as well. Thus we have the TV of today and yesterday a vast pile of moronic content emanating from every channel. Don’t believe me, turn your TV on and flip thru the channels, firstly you’re going to get advertisements (mostly dishonest) , infomercials, and misleading (actually immoral) pharmaceutical ads. Turning on your TV is like inviting hundreds of lying salesmen into your living room to pitch bull-shit and deception right in your face! Oh the real content, yes, bathroom humor sitcoms generated by sophomoric minded teenage boys masquerading as writers. Formula generated dramas that wallow in stereotype characters. Nonsensical game shows, reality shows, soap operas and phony doctor shows such as Dr. Oz and others. 

Oh, let’s not forget the news, starting with our local news channels here in the Bay Area. I believe local news starts at about 5am. Every local channel ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX has morning news programs running until about 9am. Every channel has the same news and content at the same time as if they were programmed by one person. Here is one astounding characteristics of these channels, they are obsessed about the weather, all start their program with the weather report, usually presented by a well-dressed “meteorologist” standing in front of a weather map reading about 20 temperatures that don’t vary more than 2 degrees. You get the feeling these weather reporters have never been outside, because their hair is perfect! Here is an exercise, next time the weather segment (about 3 times every ½ hour) comes on switch to the other 3 stations, guaranteed you will see the exact same thing, just a different “meteorologist” calling out temps from the map! It’s perplexing because anyone familiar with Bay Area weather realizes there is no weather in the Bay Area; it’s the most anemic climate just about anywhere. I could see this weather emphasis say for the Buffalo area, but here? 

It’s a shame that with such a block of time there is no creativity in the realm of TV news. What an opportunity for one of these channels to come up with an innovative idea to be unique and creative, given the bland competitors this could be a slam dunk for progressive action. 

Let’s not forget our great cable and corporate news outlets and the bought and paid for company men such as Brian Williams spouting nonsense and spreading propaganda as dictated by the corporation. Am I the only one that sees these cable and corporate networks as being complicit in the run up to the Iraq assault and the many other conflicts now raging? Did you notice how gung-ho the anchors were selling the invasion and bringing on consultants usually ex generals on the payrolls of defense companies? This goes on today with little objection, but of course who is going to report it?

 So now the only thing left for me to enjoy on TV is watching the wonderful Giants playing baseball! The only issue here is I have to watch baseball alone; my wife refuses to watch because baseball players spit! Dang I wish she would not have pointed that out to me!


  1. I have written this exact same article. Of course, your words were a little different, and my punctuation may have varied some, but the message was identical.

    I am watching the Giants game right now. The only difference is that my wife is a Giants fan too. My wife became interested after she saw this video. She told me to tell you to have your wife watch it.

  2. Yes, I did screen that video for spitters, it passed and my wife loved it. I was checking out your blog site, well done, lots of cool stuff there! I was looking for your write-up on TV but could not find it, send a link if you can I’d love to read it.
    Yes I think the Lockheed Constellation is a very cool plane one of my favorites.
    Go Giants!