Re: A passage. What am I going to do with this torch?

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From: Rohit Khare (
Date: Wed Dec 27 2000 - 21:54:05 PST

I know this may be a FAQ, but: any relation to Newton Minow?

>Remarks by
>William E. Kennard
>Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
>Speech to the National Association of Broadcasters
>April 20, 1999
>From the Vast Wasteland to the Vast Broadband
>(As Prepared for Delivery)

>In 1961, FCC Chairman Newt Minow proclaimed that television was a
>"vast wasteland." Today, almost four decades later, I survey the
>television landscape and see the limitless potential of broadband.
>Television is making the journey from the vast wasteland to the vast
>broadband. It is entering the most exciting era in the history of
>television, an era that will empower television audiences like never
>before. TV will empower viewers to reach into their television sets
>and paint their own landscapes: landscapes of entertainment,
>information, education and discovery.
>Now some people are saying that the broadband future will be the
>deathknell of television.
>They say look what happened just a couple weeks ago. Yahoo and
> -- two companies that didn't even exist 10 years ago
>-- announced a merger that will form a company with a combined
>market capitalization of over $40 billion -- that's one-third bigger
>than CBS.

>So they'll experiment with IP Multicasting, better compression
>techniques, different approaches to caching, or with whole new
>distribution pipes like satellite. But, in the end, what they're
>really trying to do is come up with a good point-to-multipoint
>model. And that's just another word for broadcasting.
>So, and RealNetworks, and aren't just
>Internet companies, they're also broadcasters.

>The airwaves are a wonderful resource and we must seek ways to use
>them more efficiently, to create more outlets for expression and
>more opportunity in our country.
>That's why I want to work with you, not against you, to find a way
>to make low power radio work. Low power radio has the potential to
>create outlets for an array of new voices like churches, community
>groups, and colleges. It can give voice to those ideas not always
>heard, but which many yearn to hear.
>Now, I know many of you are very concerned about this. In fact, some
>people are saying that I want to write the obituary for radio.
>Well, I want to be very clear about two things. One, this FCC is
>committed to preserving the technical integrity of FM radio. And
>two, this FCC is committed to a digital future for radio. Low power
>radio will not change that.
>And, frankly, it is not helpful to hear only rhetoric that "the sky
>is falling" even before the rulemaking comments have been filed.
>It's not helpful and it only serves to undermine the credibility of
>your arguments in the end.
>Broadcasters will rise to the challenges and opportunities created
>in the digital world, just as you have risen to challenges in the
>Think about it. Ten years ago, it was the Big Three. Today the Big
>Three are not three competing companies, but three competing
>industries - broadcast, cable, and Internet -- all racing ahead into
>the digital future.

It's a damn shame Congress and Bush will be pissing all over
Kennard's few attempts to improve what was within his purview in his



Newton N. Minow *
"Vast wasteland."

Those were the words I used to describe television in 1961, shortly
after President Kennedy appointed me Chairman of the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC or Commission). The description was
given to a meeting of the nation's broadcasters-the people who in
those days ran the television business-and they did not like my
comment. Almost overnight, "vast wasteland" entered the public
lexicon, and it is still being used to describe television. I see
those two words, or permutations of them, in newspaper headlines, in
book titles, in magazine articles, in Bartlett's Familiar
Quotations.(note 1) My wife and my three daughters threaten to
inscribe "on to a vaster wasteland" on my tombstone.

But I realize now that many people misunderstood what I tried to say
in 1961. The realization came a few years ago when our daughter Mary
showed me a multiple-choice question that used the vast wasteland
speech in the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) reading comprehension
section for prospective law students-and I got the answer wrong!

Looking back, I wish people were much more interested in two other
words in that speech: public interest. The law governing
broadcasting, the Communications Act of 1934, gives broadcasters free
and exclusive use of broadcast channels on the theory that they will
serve the public interest. What I meant by "vast wasteland" is that
we do not serve the public interest if we continue to waste
television's precious potential to educate, inform, and entertain our
children. Even skeptics who believe the public interest is beyond
definition know that it lies in the hearts and minds of children. If
as a nation we cannot figure out what the public interest means with
respect to those who are too young to vote, who are barely literate,
who are financially and emotionally and even physically dependent on
adults, then we will never figure out what it means anywhere else.
Our children are the public interest, living and breathing.

And yet, remarkably, when Congress wrote the Communications Act sixty
years ago, it gave "equal time" only to politicians. Congress did not
see fit to mention children at all, nor did it extend the protection
of the law to children until 1990, when it passed the Children's
Television Act.(note 2)

Increasingly, however, both of these laws seem antiquated. The
Communications Act, certainly, was written before we ever heard of
television, satellites, cable, computers, fax machines, cellular
phones, cyberspace, or the information superhighway. In the midst of
the current technological revolution, Congress now has a second
chance to define what we mean by the public interest as we build new
communications capacity undreamed of in human history. Second chances
are rare, and remind me of Samuel Johnson's assessment of a second
marriage: a triumph of hope over experience.

If we are to succeed where our ancestors failed, we must ensure that
our children have the full benefits of the information age. And yet,
so far, the public debate about the information superhighway has been
remarkably like the one that surrounded the Communications Act, and
before that, the 1927 Radio Act.(note 3) The bills that have been
introduced in Congress talk about "access," about antitrust
exemptions and "universal service," and about the virtues of
competition. These are all important questions, just as they were in
the 1920s and 1930s. But if there is any lesson we should take from
the past, it is that these things alone do not comprise the public
interest. James Madison, the founder who wrote the First Amendment,
wrote in Federalist Number 10 that competition between private
interests was not enough to serve the public interest, but in fact
was adverse to it.(note 4) The public interest was something else,
Madison wrote, and it depended on the ability of an informed people
to deliberate on the fundamentally moral questions that confront a
democracy.(note 5) Madison and the founders gave us the First
Amendment not to turn away from those questions, but so we could
talk, as a free people, about how best to secure the blessings of
freedom for future generations.

It is time, then, we used the First Amendment to protect and nurture
our children rather than as an excuse to ignore them. This, above
all, is the principle Congress should keep in mind as it rewrites the
Communications Act for the twenty-first century. Where children are
concerned, it will not be enough, nor has it ever been enough, to
rely exclusively on the marketplace. Today we read and hear of the
great promises of the information superhighway-glowing scenarios of
wired classrooms, of an education revolution, of a world in which any
child can, electronically, wander the Smithsonian, visit a
fourteenth-century Incan temple, or roam the floor of the Pacific
Ocean-and forget that these are the same hopes Americans once had for
television. In the late 1930s, RCA President David Sarnoff predicted
that television would usher in a "new age of electrical
entertainment, which will bring the artist to the public, the
lecturer to his audience, and the educator to his student body."(note
6) In 1949, an industry trade journal offered its prediction that,
"With the combination of motion picture film and the television
camera, coupled with the television receiver in the American home,
John Q. America is about to receive the greatest treasury of
enlightenment and education that has ever before been given to a free
man."(note 7)

Indeed, television has many fine moments, many great accomplishments.
It has also had many great failures, and none greater than its
neglect of children. Now, unless Congress acts to make explicit
provisions for what the public interest means with respect to
children on the information superhighway, we will repeat our worst
mistakes. In 2054, some future FCC Chairman willlook back at us from
the vantage point of a much vaster wasteland and wonder why, when we
had a second chance, we failed to seize it.


Few people are as lucky as I am to have been given a ringside seat at
the center of the communications revolution. Over four decades, I've
served our government, public television, commercial broadcasting,
advertising, telephone, publishing and cable companies; helped
organize presidential debates; taught students who now are leaders in
communications and law; and directed think tanks and foundations that
deal with communications policy.

It all started one autumn afternoon in 1956 in Springfield, Illinois,
where Robert Kennedy and I were traveling together as members of
Adlai Stevenson's 1956 Presidential campaign staff. Bob and I had a
lot in common, especially because my wife Jo and I have three
children the same ages as three of Bob and Ethel's children. When the
Stevenson campaign reached Springfield, Bob asked if I could take him
to visit Abraham Lincoln's home. On the way, Bob said something that
I never forgot. He said that when he grew up, the three great
influences on children were home, school, and church. In observing
his own children, he believed that there was now a fourth major
influence: television.

Five years later, on my first day at the FCC, and at my first
Commission meeting, we voted on the policy the Commission would
recommend to Congress for educational television. Six Commissioners
voted to advise Congress that educational television was not the
Commission's business, and that the FCC had no recommendation for
Congress. I dissented and testified in favor of the legislation,
which was passed in 1962. The second important event that first day
was a visit from one of the senior commissioners, Tam Craven, a
crusty ex-Navy veteran engineer who had been appointed by President
Eisenhower. Commissioner Craven asked, "Young man, do you know what a
communications satellite is?" I said no. He groaned, "I was afraid of
that." I said that I'd like to learn.

Craven then told me of his unsuccessful efforts to get the FCC to
approve a test launch of Telstar, an experimental communications
satellite developed by AT&T with the encouragement of NASA. He
convinced me that Telstar was the one part of the space race with the
Soviet Union where we were far ahead, but that our own government was
standing in the way. We quickly approved the Telstar experiment, and
to this day I treasure a picture of Craven with me in Bangor, Maine,
where Telstar was successfully launched on July 10, 1962.

So much of what has happened in the past thirty years was set on
course that first day on the job. Under the auspices of the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting
Service, educational television became a national service called
public television that reached virtually all of America's 94 million
homes. The deployment of communications satellites led to the
development of CNN, C-SPAN, HBO, and countless other cable networks,
cheaper long-distance telephone rates, and the explosion of global
communications. Through communications satellites, we learned that
modern technology respects no political boundaries-the Berlin Wall,
Tienanmen Square, or dictators in Iraq.

The things we did a generation ago have helped create another
communications revolution, this one fueled by the technologies not
only of satellites, but of digitization and fiber-optic cable. That
revolution is going on around the world. In most countries this
revolution is proving particularly vexing for the public,
not-for-profit telecommunications systems, such as the BBC in Great
Britain or the CBC in Canada, that were established in the early days
of broadcasting. All of these systems are having to meet the
challenge of new competition, and many are giving serious thought to
what their role should be as public servants in a multichannel

Those who direct many of these systems recognize that some of the
traditional pillars of public service broadcasting will have to adapt
to a new communications environment in which viewers will not only
have many more choices, but may someday be producing and distributing
programs themselves. There are few points of firm agreement on how
this new communications environment should be structured, or who it
should serve, but one of them is this: left to the marketplace,
children will receive either very bad service or none at all.
Policymakers in every country know that this is true from the example
of American broadcast television, and all are working to make special
provisions for children in their national communications policies.

Now, after sixty years of missed opportunities, Congress should seize
this opportunity to do the same. Our choice is not between free
speech and the marketplace on one hand and governmental censorship
and bureaucracy on the other. The choice is how to serve the needs of
children and how to use the opportunities presented by the
superhighway to enrich the lives of every child. Let us do for our
children today what we should have done long ago.

The challenge that faces us reminds me of a story President Kennedy
told a week before he was killed. The story was about French Marshall
Lyautey, who walked one morning through his garden with his gardener.
He stopped at a certain point and asked the gardener to plant a tree
there the next morning. The gardener said, "But the tree will not
bloom for one hundred years." The marshall looked at the gardener and
replied, "In that case, you had better plant it this afternoon."



*Director of The Annenberg Washington Program in Communications
Policy Studies of Northwestern University. Counsel, Sidley & Austin.
Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, by appointment of
President Kennedy, through 1961-1963. The Author has also served as
Chairman of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); Chairman of the
RAND Corporation; and is currently Chairman of the Carnegie
Corporation of New York.

The Author would like to credit this as part of the Public-Service
Television Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, with
an acknowledgment to Craig L. LaMay. Return to text
1. John Bartlett, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations 757 (Justin
Kaplan ed., 16th ed. 1992). Return to text

2. Children's Television Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-437, 104
Stat. 996 (codified at 47 U.S.C. 303(a)-303(b), 393(a), 394 (1988 &
Supp. IV 1992)). Return to text

3. Radio Act of 1927, ch. 169, 44 Stat. 1162, repealed by
Communications Act of 1934, ch. 652, 602(a), 48 Stat. 1064. Return to

4. The Federalist No. 10 (James Madison). Return to text

5. Id. Return to text

6. Eugene Lyons, David Sarnoff: A Biography 279 (1966). Return to text

7. Television's Impact, Radio & Television News, July 1949. Return to text

[Dammit, why isn't this top-100 list hyperlinked to the full texts?? -_RK]

Top 100 American speeches of the 20th century
Compiled by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and
Texas A & M University, this list reflects the opinions of 137
leading scholars of American public address. (Full text of news

1 "I Have a Dream" Martin Luther King, Jr. 28 Aug 1963
        Washington, DC
2 Inaugural Address John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961 Washington, DC
3 First Inaugural Address Franklin D. Roosevelt 4 Mar 1933
        Washington, DC
4 War Message ("A Date which Will Live in Infamy")
        Franklin D. Roosevelt 8 Dec 1941 Washington, DC
5 Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention
        Barbara Jordan 12 July 1976 New York, NY
6 "My Side of the Story" ("Checkers") Richard M. Nixon
        23 Sept 1952 Los Angeles, CA
7 "The Ballot or the Bullet" Malcolm X 3 Apr 1964
        Cleveland, OH
8 Address to the Nation on the Challenger Disaster
        Ronald Reagan 28 Jan 1986 Washington, DC
9 Speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association John
F. Kennedy 12 Sept 1960 Houston, TX
10 Address to Congress on the Voting Rights Act ("We Shall
Overcome") Lyndon B. Johnson 15 Mar 1965 Washington, DC
11 Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention ("A Tale
of Two Cities") Mario Cuomo 17 July 1984 San Francisco, CA
12 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Rainbow
Coalition") Jesse Jackson 17 July 1984 San Francisco, CA
13 Statement on the Articles of Impeachment Barbara
Jordan 25 July 1974 Washington, DC
14 Farewell Address to Congress ("Old Soldiers Never Die")
        Douglas MacArthur 19 Apr 1951 Washington, DC
15 "I've Been to the Mountaintop" Martin Luther King, Jr. 3 Apr
1968 Memphis, TN
16 "The Man with the Muckrake" Theodore Roosevelt 14
Apr 1906 Washington, DC
17 Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
        Robert F. Kennedy 4 Apr 1968 Indianapolis, IN
18 Farewell Address Dwight D. Eisenhower 17 Jan 1961
        Washington, DC
19 War Message ("The World Must Be Made Safe for Democracy")
        Woodrow Wilson 2 Apr 1917 Washington, DC
20 Farewell Address at the U.S. Military Academy ("Duty, Honor,
Country") Douglas MacArthur 12 May 1962 West Point, NY
21 Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam ("The Great
Silent Majority") Richard M. Nixon 3 Nov 1969
        Washington, DC
22 "Ich bin ein Berliner" John F. Kennedy 26 June 1963 West
Berlin, Germany
23 Plea for Mercy at the Trial of Leopold and Loeb Clarence
Darrow 31 July 1924 Chicago, IL
24 "Acres of Diamonds" Russell Conwell 1900-1925
        Delivered at many spots across the U.S.
25 Televised Speech on Behalf of Barry Goldwater ("A Time for
Choosing") Ronald Reagan 27 Oct 1964 Los Angeles, CA
26 "Every Man a King" Huey Pierce Long 23 Feb 1934
        Washington, DC
27 "The Fundamental Principle of a Republic" Anna Howard
Shaw 21 June 1915 Ogdensburg, NY
28 "The Arsenal of Democracy" Franklin D. Roosevelt 29
Dec 1940 Washington, DC
29 Speech to the National Association of Evangelicals ("The Evil
Empire") Ronald Reagan 8 Mar 1983 Orlando, FL
30 First Inaugural Address Ronald Reagan 20 Jan 1981 Washington, DC
31 First Fireside Chat ("The Banking Crisis") Franklin D.
Roosevelt 12 Mar 1933 Washington, DC
32 Address to Congress on Greece and Turkey ("The Truman
Doctrine") Harry S Truman 12 Mar 1947 Washington, DC
33 Speech Accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature William
Faulkner 10 Dec 1950 Stockholm, Sweden
34 Statement to the Court Eugene V. Debs 14 Sept 1918 Cleveland, OH
35 Address to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women
("Women's Rights Are Humans Rights") Hillary Rodham Clinton 5
Sept 1995 Beijing, China
36 "Atoms for Peace" Dwight D. Eisenhower 8 Dec 1953
        New York, NY
37 American University Speech John F. Kennedy 10 June 1963
        Washington, DC
38 Keynote Speech to the Democratic National Convention Ann
Richards 18 July 1988 Atlanta, GA
39 Address to the Nation Resigning the Presidency Richard M.
Nixon 8 Aug 1974 Washington, DC
40 "The Fourteen Points" Woodrow Wilson 8 Jan 1918 Washington, DC
41 "Declaration of Conscience" Margaret Chase Smith 1
June 1950 Washington, DC
42 "The Four Freedoms" Franklin D. Roosevelt 6 Jan 1941
        Washington, DC
43 Speech at Riverside Church ("A Time to Break Silence")
        Martin Luther King, Jr. 4 Apr 1967 New York, NY
44 "What It Means to Be Colored in the Capital of the United
States" Mary Church Terrell 10 Oct 1906 Washington, DC
45 Speech Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination
("Against Imperialism") William Jennings Bryan 8 Aug 1900
        Indianapolis, IN
46 "A Moral Necessity for Birth Control" Margaret Sanger
        1921-1922 Delivered several times for the American
Birth Control League
47 Commencement Speech at Wellesley College ("Choices and
Change") Barbara Bush 1 June 1990 Wellesley, MA
48 Address to the Nation on Civil Rights ("A Moral Issue") John
F. Kennedy 11 June 1963 Washington, DC
49 Address to the Nation on the Cuban Missile Crisis John
F. Kennedy 22 Oct 1962 Washington, DC
50 "Television News Coverage" Spiro Agnew 13 Nov. 1969
        Des Moines, IA
51 Speech to the Democratic National Convention ("Common Ground
and Common Sense") Jesse Jackson 20 July 1988 Atlanta, GA
52 Speech to the Republican National Convention ("A Whisper of
AIDS") Mary Fisher 19 Aug 1992 Houston, TX
53 "The Great Society" Lyndon B. Johnson 22 May 1964
        Ann Arbor, MI
54 "The Marshall Plan" George C. Marshall 5 June 1947
        Cambridge, MA
55 "Truth and Tolerance in America" Edward M. Kennedy
        3 Oct 1983 Lynchburg, VA
56 Speech Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination
("Let's Talk Sense to American People") Adlai Stevenson 26 July 1952
        Chicago, IL
57 "The Struggle for Human Rights" Eleanor Roosevelt 28
Sept 1948 Paris, France
58 Speech Accepting the Democratic Vice-Presidential Nomination
        Geraldine Ferraro 19 July 1984 San Francisco, CA
59 "Free Speech in Wartime" Robert M. La Follette 6 Oct
1917 Washington, DC
60 Address at the U.S. Ranger Monument on the 40th Anniversary
of D-Day Ronald Reagan 6 June 1984 Pointe du Hoc,
Normandy, France
61 "Religious Belief and Public Morality" Mario Cuomo 13
Sept 1984 Notre Dame, IN
62 Televised Statement to the People of Massachusetts
("Chappaquiddick") Edward M. Kennedy 25 July 1969
        Boston, MA
63 "Labor and the Nation" ("The Rights of Labor") John L. Lewis
        3 Sept 1937 Washington, DC
64 Speech Accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination
("Extremism in the Defense of Liberty Is No Vice") Barry
Goldwater 16 July 1964 San Francisco, CA
65 "Black Power" Stokely Carmichael Oct 1966 Berkeley, CA
66 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Sunshine
of Human Rights") Hubert H. Humphrey 14 July 1948
        Philadelphia, PA
67 Address to the Jury Emma Goldman 9 July 1917 New York, NY
68 "The Crisis" Carrie Chapman Catt 7 Sept 1916
        Atlantic City, NJ
69 "Television and the Public Interest" ("A Vast Wasteland")
        Newton W. Minow 9 May 1961 Washington, DC
70 Eulogy to Robert Kennedy Edward M. Kennedy 8
June 1968 New York, NY
71 Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee Anita Hill
        11 Oct 1991 Washington, DC
72 Final Address in Support of the League of Nations
        Woodrow Wilson 25 Sept 1919 Pueblo, CO
73 Farewell to Baseball Lou Gehrig 4 July 1939 New York, NY
74 Address to the Nation on the Cambodian Incursion
        Richard M. Nixon 30 Apr 1970 Washington, DC
75 "Address to the United States Congress" Carrie Chapman Catt
        Nov 1917 Washington, DC
76 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("The Dream
Shall Never Die") Edward M. Kennedy 12 Aug 1980 New
York, NY
77 Address to the Nation on Vietnam and the Decision Not to Seek
Re-Election Lyndon B. Johnson 31 Mar 1968 Washington, DC
78 Speech to the Commonwealth Club Franklin D. Roosevelt 23
Sept 1932 San Francisco, CA
79 First Inaugural Address Woodrow Wilson 4 Mar 1913 Washington, DC
80 "An End to History" Mario Savio 2 Dec 1964 Berkeley, CA
81 Speech at the Democratic National Convention ("AIDS: A
Personal Story") Elizabeth Glaser 14 July 1992 New
York, NY
82 "The Issue" Eugene V. Debs 23 May 1908 Girard, KS
83 The Children's Era Margaret Sanger Mar 1925 New York, NY
84 "A Left-Handed Commencement Address" (Mills College)
        Ursula Le Guin 22 May 1983 Oakland, CA
85 "Now We Can Begin" Crystal Eastman Sept-Oct 1920 New York, NY
86 Radio Broadcast of March 7, 1935 ("Share Our Wealth") Huey
Pierce Long 7 Mar 1935 Washington, DC
87 Address on Taking the Oath of Office ("Our Long National
Nightmare Is Over") Gerald Ford 9 Aug 1974 Washington, DC
88 Speech on Ending His Fast Cesar Chavez 10 Mar 1968
        Delano, CA
89 Statement at the Smith Act Trial Elizabeth Gurley
Flynn 2 Feb 1953 New York, NY
90 Address to the Nation on Energy and National Goals ("A Crisis
of Confidence") Jimmy Carter 15 July 1979 Washington, DC
91 "Message to the Grassroots" Malcolm X 10 Nov 1963
        Detroit, MI
92 Speech at the Prayer Service for Victims of the Oklahoma City
Bombing Bill Clinton 23 Apr 1995 Oklahoma City, OK
93 "For the Equal Rights Amendment" Shirley Chisholm
        10 Aug 1970 Washington, DC
94 Address at the Brandenburg Gate Ronald Reagan 12 June 1987
        West Berlin, Germany
95 "The Perils of Indifference" Elie Wiesel 12 Apr 1999
        Washington, DC
96 Address to the Nation on Pardoning Richard M. Nixon
        Gerald Ford 8 Sept 1974 Washington, DC
97 "For the League of Nations" Woodrow Wilson 6 Sept 1919
        Des Moines, IA
98 Address to Congress after Assuming the Presidency ("Let Us
Continue") Lyndon B. Johnson 27 Nov 1963 Washington, DC
99 Defense of Fred Fisher at the Army-McCarthy Hearings ("Have
You No Sense of Decency?") Joseph Welch 9 June 1954
        Washington, DC
100 "Adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights" Eleanor
Roosevelt 9 Dec 1948 Paris, France


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