RCA Ad: Freedom to LISTEN – Freedom to LOOK (Jan, 1948)

Freedom to LISTEN – Freedom to LOOK

As the world grows smaller, the question of international communications and world understanding grows larger. The most important phase of this problem is Freedom to Listen and Freedom to Look—for all peoples of the world.

Radio, by its very nature, is a medium of mass communication; it is a carrier of intelligence. It delivers ideas with an impact that is powerful … Its essence is freedom —liberty of thought and of speech.

Radio should make a prisoner of no man and it should make no man its slave. No one should be forced to listen and no one compelled to refrain from listening. Always and everywhere, it should be the prerogative of every listener to turn his receiver on or off, of his own free will.

The principle of Freedom to Listen should be established for all peoples without restriction or fear. This is as important as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press.

Television is on the way and moving steadily forward. Television fires the imagination, and the day is foreseen when we shall look around the earth from city to city, and nation to nation, as easily as we now listen to global broadcasts.

Therefore, Freedom to Look is as important as Freedom to Listen, for the combination of these will be the radio of the future.

The “Voice of Peace” must speak around this planet and be heard by all people everywhere, no matter what their race, or creed, or political philosophies.


  1. kenji says: September 27, 20076:46 am

    sorry, but what’s the point of this ad? TV should be part of the RCA so RCA can ensure TV can have freedom of speech?

  2. Blurgle says: September 27, 20079:50 am

    The ad is trying to portray television and radio ownership as a patriotic act. It’s written almost as if it were a public service announcement, but obviously RCA, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of TVs and radios, had a huge interest in increasing radio and TV ownership.

    I keep wondering, though, if RCA was also implying that not listening and looking was somewhat suspect, or if a reader in the age of McCarthy and Red scares could come to this conclusion.

  3. Snud says: September 27, 20072:26 pm

    And most important of all, the freedom to be crushed by Sarnoff’s lawyers if you hold patents that take away from RCA’s complete domination of radio and television technologies, a la Edwin Armstrong (inventor of FM radio) and Philo T. Farnsworth (inventor of electronic television).

  4. Rick Auricchio says: September 27, 20078:19 pm

    Here’s a great example of why the record labels are so dumb today. They complain that Apple makes money selling iPods, and they’re the patsies who simply provide songs.

    What they don’t remember is that recordings were made to SELL RECORD PLAYERS. But they got out of the hardware business decades ago, and now they forget that was where the money was.

    Thomas Edison began making films to sell his movie projectors to theatres. He made musical recordings to sell his cylinder players.

  5. Blurgle says: September 28, 200711:05 am

    Well, to be fair, the cost of a television set in the 1950s was only a little less than the cost of a new car. If you could sell iPods for $10,000, you could give away music too.

    Although they never gave away music – the cost of a single in 2007 is about the same as a cost of a single record in 1964 – about a dollar.

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.