“This instrument can teach.” — Edward R. Murrow (in the early days).
I’m proposing a calm, quiet, thoughtful TV network for calm, quiet, thoughtful people. I’ll call it The Standard, as a working title. The standard is that our programming will be suitable for thoughtful adults, rather than frenetic juveniles. We will have none of the loud, coarse, manic fare of people jumping up and down, waving their arms, mugging into your face, jabbering, shouting, screaming, pratfalling and talking over each other as the camera zooms in and out, swirls and scene-shifts every millisecond as loud rock music blares along with the infernal beating of drums. And, we will have no rude, insulting commercials, interrupting every five minutes with talking credit cards and hand-thrusting hustlers demanding, “Buy now! Before it’s too late!”
This outrageous craziness is impossible to fully describe and almost everyone has grown up with this mind-altering medium from the time they were toddlers sitting stunned and mesmerized in front of a blaring TV.
Only old-timers like me can remember a calmer, quieter world.
Protests against manic television were made in the early days by people especially concerned about the effect this mind-warping new medium was having on their children, and we would get periodic reports of old geezers blasting their TV with a shotgun in frustration at the madness, but those days are gone and we accept this mad and maddening assault as normal.
A visitor from space would report back, “These bipeds are stone-cold crazy.”
This network will not only be commercial-free, but will have no “entertainment.” For the people I’m thinking of, discovery and expanding their knowledge is entertainment! Our purpose is to expand our awareness of the world and especially to look seven generations deep into the destiny of humanity which, right now, looks pretty bleak. The programming could be very rich for the thoughtful mind.
What about PBS? Don’t they already provide high-standard programming? The answer is yes — in about one in 20 programs. The rest of the programs are food and financial gurus with shill audiences, English manor soap operas and bodice-rippers, endlessly recycled ’40s big band revivals and the month-long hard-sell “pledge week” harangues. And even programs like “Frontline,” “Nova” and “American Experience” are marred with the insistent, hammering background music that’s so loud, you can’t hear the dialog. It’s like a chef who creates a delicately-spiced dish, then squirts a half bottle of ketchup on top.
So, how would we fund this billion-dollar enterprise? I think the only independent funding could come from a co-op where the startup and programming funding would come solely from subscriptions. You get what you pay for. I’ll tentatively set the subscription rate at a dollar a day or $365 a year. That seems a small price to pay for calm, thoughtful television leading to the advancement of our species. With three million subscribers in the U.S., that’s a billion dollars a year and, worldwide, we might be talking about a half-billion people eager to subscribe. This movement could begin anywhere in the world and the upper desert seems as good a place as any to start.
I’m neither and elitist nor an intellectual. I’m just an ordinary thoughtful person who would like relief from this greedy craziness and I’m hungry for grownup discourse. Surely, I’m not alone. Will somebody out there give me an “Amen”?