World Television Day: LIFE Watches TV

Radio Corporation of America (RCA) executives watch a brand new invention called television, their New York offices before introducing the product to the public, 1939.
Carl Mydans—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Radio Corporation of America (RCA) executives watch a brand new invention called television, their New York offices before introducing the product to the public, 1939.
Culture
1939
1972

Television gets a bad rap. As early as 1961, President Kennedy’s FCC chairman, Newton Minow, famously characterized most programming as a “vast wasteland.” Today, everyone from pediatricians to self-designated protectors of public morals point to TV as a cause of . . . well, you name it: childhood obesity, political apathy, high murder rates, low literacy rates.

It sometimes seems that, in many minds, every societal ill is in some way tied to the tube. So be it. But we like television. We like it a lot. Here, LIFE.com offers a photo gallery that celebrates, without apology, what is arguably America’s true national pastime: watching TV.
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