Robbins Steps On Broadcasters’ Toes Necks

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is just lights and wires in a box.” –Edward R. Murrow in 1958
Members of the National Association of Broadcasters are in Las Vegas for their annual get together. Like any such meeting of minds, it’s a time for some networking, learning and fun.
According to Variety, the keynote speech–delivered yesterday by actor, director and producer, Tim Robbins–checked a couple of those boxes.

In a keynote speech laced with wry irony and winking sarcasm, Tim Robbins managed to slap back at his right-wing critics, recount an entertaining history of radio and TV and urge broadcasters to “appeal to our better natures,” saying news directors and producers have a responsibility to “the health of the nation.”
The fun started to get uncomfortable when Robbins referred to both the Reagan and Clinton administrations having eased limitations on media ownership — all to the “benefit” of communities, which then no longer had to listen to diverse, complex opinions “or alternative rock.” NAB has supported relaxing ownership rules.
Robbins peaked with what he called a three-pronged proposal that broadcasters should adopt in order to eliminate “confusing, complex issues” such as diversity of thought and opinion.
“First, erase all diversity,” he said. “You only need two opinions. Second, stay focused on sex scandals. We don’t want any kind of reporting outside the soundbite. I don’t know about you, but show me a drunk starlet getting out of a car with no panties on, and I think the world is a better place. Third, more distraction. The economy sucks? Chaos in Iraq? It is a moral responsibility to distract.”

Variety’s reporter notes that “two-thirds of the packed ballroom rose to a standing ovation” to thank Robbins for his clarity and bravery on matters important to them.
Broadcasting & Cable has more, including audio from the event.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.