WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission told broadcasters today they would have to improve the quality of programming if they expect to stay on the air.
FCC Chairman Newton N. Minow, 35, said in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters convention that radio and TV have failed to meet the standards of newspapers and magazines. He described the majority of TV shows as "a vast wasteland."
"I did not come to Washington to idly observe the squandering of the public's air waves," he said, describing them as a "precious natural resource."
Minow's address was his first policy pronouncement since he became FCC chairman two months ago.
In a bluntly worded discussion of broadcasting problems, Minow said he was unalterably opposed to government censorship of TV and radio programming. But he said he would use all the power in his hands to make broadcasters live up to their obligations as trustees of the public air waves.
He said television should grow up and provide "the kind of leadership that newspapers and magazines assumed years ago, to make our people aware of their world."
With the growing responsibilities of the United States abroad and the prospects that international television will be a reality in the near future, Minow said, "we cannot permit TV in its present form to be our voice overseas."