However you regard former FCC chairman Newton Minow’s original “Vast Wasteland” speech, he is right on target with his assessment of today’s programming landscape. In an interview, after decades of chilly distance over this page’s unflattering assessment of that speech and its fallout, Minow says choice is the order of the day—and what he was after all along, particularly in promoting the then-fledgling pay-TV industry.
Reassessing the TV landscape, which has expanded to cable, satellite, telco TV and online platforms, Minow said: “The main thing is that everybody has been provided a choice. If you are a sports junkie, you have plenty of sports. If you are a news junkie, you’ve got plenty of news. If you like children’s television, you’ve got a lot of choices for your kids.…Giving people choice should the fundamental aim of the government’s regulation of communications.”
We may disagree on just what the FCC can and should do to promote that choice. In some cases, getting out of the way works, too. But on the point that marketplace options now abound, our view and Newton Minow’s view of the TV landscape are one and the same.
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