[Subscription television]

Sunday, October 02, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes speaks about General Electric's plans to create a subscription television service. There is a system to get television without using the air used by present broadcasters, but some believe this matter should be settled by Congress rather than the FCC.
Seldes says that the service will certainly not be available for at least a year, as the FCC must study volumes of written reports and hold public hearings before decisions can be made.

Seldes then moves on to talk about the Arts and consumer selection. He notes that there isn't a wide selection of popular arts available because they must all be so average in order to appeal to the largest number of people. He uses as an example Milton Burl and Jackie Gleason, who he calls "very much the same person with minor variations."

He also talks about taste and morals. He says that we are becoming torpid as a result of our drone-like city lives and looking at nothing but tabloids, television and movies.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70651
Municipal archives id: LT6374

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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