This was Television on May 9

1961: Newton Minow gives his “Wasteland Speech”

Minow, then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, addressed the National Association of Broadcasters in his first major speech since being appointed to head the agency. In it, he stressed the capacity for television to serve as a public resource, as well as the decidedly unenlightened status of contemporary commercial offerings:

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

The speech, “Television and the Public Interest,” also coined one of the most famous phrases ever applied to TV when Minow described the state of affairs on the airwaves as “a vast wasteland.” -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Candice Bergen, journalist (67); James L. Brooks, director (73); John Corbett, Alaskan (51).

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