The sixth in this series of annual lectures honoring William S. Paley, the founder of CBS and The Museum of Television & Radio. The guest speaker for this lecture is Tom Freston, one of the founders and current chief executive officer of MTV, the world's largest global entertainment network. Museum president Robert M. Batscha begins the lecture with opening remarks on the history of the Museum and the Paley lecture series.

After Batscha introduces special guest Tom Freston, a highlight tape is shown, consisting of clips of programs featured on MTV's five cable channels -- MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, TV Land, and VH1 -- such as "MTV News," "House of Style," "The Real World," "Rugrats," "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo," "Hey Arnold!" "Happy Days," "I Love Lucy," and "Pop-up Video." Next, Freston delivers a lecture based on the premise that the recent proliferation of television channels will help television reach its full potential as a medium of mass communication. He begins by quoting other Paley lecturers, Pat Weaver, Ted Turner, and Norman Lear, who expressed a belief that we are presently witnessing a decline from the "golden age" of television. Freston compares the primetime line-up from the golden age with the variety of programs currently available on any given night. He argues that whereas our choices once consisted of only a few shows such as "The Beverly Hillbillies" or "Lost in Space," we now have a myriad of high quality cultural, educational, and entertainment programs to choose from; whereas in the past the major networks aired the "least objectionable programming" to appeal to the mass audience, multi-channel television now provides a diversity of programming that contributes to our cultural level. Freston then goes on to discuss the following subjects, among others: the improvement of children's programming with the birth of networks such as Nickelodeon; television as a global medium to promote greater cross-cultural understanding; our increasing knowledge of current events and world affairs due to cable television; television as a forum to discuss progressive values such as multi-culturalism and civic participation; and the present possiblities for creativity and innovation in the medium. In response to audience questions, Freston comments on the following subjects: the new generation of talent in the television industry; the future economics of television in view of the increasing fragmentation of audience and ratings; the need for a balance of local and global programming to appeal to the younger generation; the expansion of cable channels onto the Internet; the evolution of MTV since 1981; and networks that cater to particular age groups.

This program contains minor technical problems. This represents the best copy of this program currently available to the Museum.


  • DATE: October 16, 1998 Friday 12:45 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:08:36
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:54716
  • GENRE: Seminars


    • Robert M. Batscha … Host
    • Tom Freston … Guest
    • Norman Lear
    • Ted Turner
    • Pat Weaver