The Television Problem
NO BUSINESS institution in our history has ever found itself under such unrelenting and ferocious attack as television. Criticism of the industry, though centered in what is generally called the middle-brow community, nevertheless cuts across all social, economic, political, and intellectual divisions, forming a kind of unprecedented cultural popular front. Yet it would also seem that never have so many said so much to so little avail. Even the great assault triggered by the quiz show scandal of 1959 failed to effect any significant reforms, and today the basic structure of the television industry is still what it was at the beginning, when Milton Berle, the wrestling matches, the roller derby, and some old Cornel Wilde movies were its chief assets. The goal the industry set for itself, to become the most pervasive (and persuasive) medium of mass communications in the history of the world, also remains the same. In fact, it could be argued that the goal has been achieved, putting the industry in a position of unassailable strength, from which it is easy to beat back all forms of criticism.
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