There was a speechwriter involved. If parents, teachers, and ministers conducted their responsibilities by following the ratings, children would have a steady diet of ice cream, school holidays, and no Sunday school. But there are other consumers, too, with different programming and even different advertising interests, and I think these interests--ergo, an important component of the public interest--are getting beat up on pretty badly. They don't tell us what the public might watch if they were offered half-a-dozen additional choices. I have heard many answers: demands of your advertisers; competition for ever-higher ratings; the need always to attract a mass audience; the high cost of television programs; the insatiable appetite for programming material--these are some of them.
Who are we to say that their choice is one that we would reject? Your industry possesses the most powerful voice in America. There are some fine children's shows, but they are drowned out in the massive doses of cartoons, violence, and more violence. I have told you that I believe in the free enterprise system. We want you to do this; we want you to editorialize, take positions. Unquestionably these are tough problems not susceptible to easy answers. How are America's various ethnic groups being served in this more consolidated era? They reflect the leadership and aspirations of your own great industry.
From 1915 to 2000 sport broadcasting crushed television ratings. Every one of you serves an area which has local needs -- as to local elections, controversial issues, local news, local talent. Recently, I have asked my colleagues, the industry, and the public to consider whether the rising tide of violent and excessively graphic sexual programming on the air, particularly when children are watching, may be another result of consolidated programming put together by those who see media as primarily an advertising vehicle and who have no ties to the communities where their shows are seen and heard. Why do we have public parks? Don't give it to somebody else; give it to me. This is my first public address since I took over my new job. I urge you to put the people's airwaves to the service of the people and the cause of freedom.
Now what I've been saying applies to the broadcast stations. You probably also know that special attention will be paid in these forms to reports of public service programming. Every one of you serves a community in which the people would benefit by educational religious instructive or other public service programming. I would say it's a vaster wasteland because there's so many more choices. Among the panelists were Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter from left , Ann Marie Lipinski of the Nieman Foundation, and Yochai Benkler and Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School.
I think the need for government involvement has decreased with the explosion of new media. There is something incredibly intense and surreal about this opening, which leads fittingly on to images of hell, war and dissatisfaction. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. But they will be very, very few. Well, it's gone up now.
What are the impacts on local and regional artistic creativity when local and regional input is compromised? I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland. But it's your job to inform, and it's your job to be a very good citizen. In France, under the law, everything is permitted, except that which is prohibited. But I do know this: It would be folly for the Commission to rush to judgment without teeing these questions up and making at least a credible effort to understand the consequences of our decisions before we forge ahead. But the response is, it's not our job to be part of some elite that determines what the public wants or is interested in; the public interest is what the public is interested in.
Minow has been active in politics. It used to be said that there were three great influences on a child: home, school and church. True, you will see a few things you will enjoy, but they will be very, very few. And yet, I say to myself, on the other hand, you've given the viewer the option of choosing what he or she wants to see. I believe in the gravity of my own particular sector of the New Frontier. It wouldn't necessarily have to be on the O'Reilly program.
In this essay I will explain why I have come to the conclusion that the printing press is more influential, vital, and educational to society than the television. But in television, where your responsibilities as public trustees are so plain, the moment that the ratings indicate that westerns are popular there are new imitations of westerns on the air faster than the old coaxial cable could take us from Hollywood to New York. The other legislation allowed for the creation of the communications satellite industry. In his stirring inaugural address, our president said, 'And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. Probably it is not a sensible system, it may turn out in the end.
We set up broadcasting in America with an ambivalence of goals. That's the most important thing. I have confidence in your health. In that sense they have. But your obligations are not satisfied if you look only to popularity as a test of what to broadcast. But the airwaves belong to the public.
You must strive to set them free. But I am not convinced that you have tried hard enough to solve them. There was no attention paid to it. Because I believe Congress is going to insist on it. From the person who is the broadcaster, or the cable operator, there is scarcity.