May 7, 2023 -CHICAGO (AP) — Newton N. Minow, who as Federal Communications Commission chief in the early 1960s famously proclaimed that network television was a “vast wasteland,” died Saturday. He was 97.
Minow, who received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, died Saturday at home, surrounded by loved ones, said his daughter, Nell Minow.
“He wanted to be at home,” she told The Associated Press. “He had a good life.”
Though Minow remained in the FCC post just two years, he left a permanent stamp on the broadcasting industry through government steps to foster satellite communications, the passage of a law mandating UHF reception on TV sets and his outspoken advocacy for quality in television.
“My faith is in the belief that this country needs and can support many voices of television — and that the more voices we hear, the better, the richer, the freer we shall be,” Minow once said. “After all, the airways belong to the people.”
Minow was appointed as FCC chief by President John F. Kennedy in early 1961. He had initially come to know the Kennedys in the 1950s as an aide to Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956.
Minow laid down his famous challenge to TV executives on May 9, 1961, in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, urging them to sit down and watch their station for a full day, “without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit-and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you.”