The “Vast Wasteland” known as Television

Newton N. Minow’s address to the National Association of Broadcasters was spot on. His view on what television programming has turned into for the American people is perfectly described as a “vast wasteland.” He explained that for the past 50 years, rather than provide what was best for the public interest; broadcasters were providing a vast array of programming that showed violence, sexual exploitation, game shows, and cartoons. Newton suggested six goals that needed to be achieved in order to not repeat the same mistakes.

First off was the expansion of freedom. People should be allowed to express their ideas and the best way to accomplish this is through the Internet. People should be encouraged to access the internet not only to look up information, but to share their own thoughts and beliefs as well.

Second was to use new communication technologies in order to improve our education system. Back in 1862 during the Civil War, the Land Grant College Act was drawn up and made the United States the world leader in higher education. However, that is no longer the case today and now broadcasters control the largest spectrum we have in this country to send out signals that most Americans don’t need.

Third was to develop new technologies in order to improve our health care system. Many developed countries are far ahead of Americans in telemedicine; however the United States military is the most sophisticated user in the world. We should be able to use telemedicine not only in our military, but for our citizens at home as well.

The fourth goal was to develop a new infrastructure for public safety. The one currently in place failed to work during 9/11 because of the overwhelming amount of traffic.

Fifth was to provide greater support for public radio and television. These outlets of information have been receiving less and less funds and it’s time to fix that because they are a vast source of local news and information, especially public radio considering it is so cheap to distribute.

Finally, we must change the way politics is handled over the waves. It doesn’t make any sense that the political leaders who are trying to work with the public to improve the country must pay in order to express their ideas when the air waves are publicly owned.

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