Newton N. Minow, F.C.C. Chief Who Deemed TV a ‘Vast Wasteland,’ Dies at 97

Newton N., who sent shockwaves through the industry as President John F. Kennedy’s new FCC chairman in 1961, calling American television “a vast wasteland” and getting on the nerves of a nation obsessed with mediocrity and mayhem. Minnow died at his home on Saturday. home in Chicago. he was 97 years old.

His daughter Nell Minnow said the cause was a heart attack.

On May 9, 1961, nearly four months after President Kennedy called on Americans to renew their commitment to freedom around the world, the recently appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission put on the glasses. Mr Minnow, a bureaucrat, got up before 2,000 broadcasts. He invited executives to a luncheon in Washington and encouraged them to watch television for the day.

“Remove distractions like books, magazines, newspapers, income statements, ratings, etc. Stay there and keep your eyes glued to the set until the station signal goes off,” Minow says. said. “There is no doubt that you can observe vast wastelands.”

The audience was astounded when he continued.

“Procession about game shows, violence, audience participation shows, unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, bad guys from the west, good guys from the west, private eyes, gangs and other violence. You see, and cartoons, and endlessly, commercials — a lot of screaming, indulgence, annoyance, and, most of all, boredom.”

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