I have a problem with executives who make a good living in commercial television and then get religion and write books denouncing it. That's essentially the case with "Down the Tube: An Inside Account of the Failure of American Television" (Basic Books; $24) by William F. Baker and George Dessart. But problems with the messenger don't mean the message is not worth hearing.
Baker is a former president of Westinghouse Television and current CEO of public television station WNET in New York City. Dessart is a former vice president at CBS now teaching at City University of New York. They say that TV doesn't have to be structured the way it is, with the airwaves given over to private, mostly unregulated corporate interests. It's not a unique message, but if enough voices like theirs join the chorus, maybe we can rethink the medium and come up with a model that the public controls instead of one that controls us.
Pub Date: 5/17/98