Newton N. Minow

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It is useless to send armies against ideas.
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Newton N. Minow (1926-), FCC Chairman 1961-63 (appointed by John F. Kennedy), lawyer, author, activist on behalf of quality television, organizer of Presidential debates.

Sourced

Speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, May 9, 1961 (the Wasteland Speech)

  • 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.
  • What do we mean by "the public interest?" Some say the public interest is merely what interests the public. I disagree.
  • We need imagination in programming, not sterility; creativity, not imitation; experimentation, not conformity; excellence, not mediocrity. Television is filled with creative, imaginative people. You must strive to set them free.

Unsourced

  • Sending communications satellites will be much more important than sending man into space because they will send ideas into space. Ideas last longer than men.
  • We've got a real irony here... We have politicians selling access to something we all own— our government. And then we have broadcasters selling access to something we all own— our airwaves. It's a terrible system.

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