From the Founder: Time & Timelessness by Bob Chitester


Time. With on-the-half-hour and -hour scheduling of broadcast and cable TV channels. With the demands of meeting deadlines over the twelve months needed to complete a TV documentary. With the decreasing attention span of viewers (inversely related to age) calling for shorter and more memorable videos. Our lives at and Free To Choose Network are driven by “time.”

I’ve asked Tara Schupp, our chief operating officer, to put together an article for the next newsletter that will give you a sense of how we manage time in bringing together the inputs necessary to create TV documentaries and education modules. The same systems approach is also used in building our expanding distribution network.

There are two other aspects of “time” that, although intangible, are the foundation from which we start the creative process. First, a video of any length should be as “evergreen” as possible. The stories told may “age” in terms of fashion or technology, but the ideas conveyed should be universal in application. Second, to introduce a new idea or suggest changing an established doctrine is a long-term process.

Milton Friedman challenged my focus on television. “Bob, anyone who can be persuaded by an hour TV program, can be dissuaded by another TV program the next night.” I countered that the series would help sell the book, which chapter by chapter followed the themes of the series, and it has sold tens of millions worldwide. As producers we place enormous value on productions that are evergreen, that like Free To Choose can be effectively communicating basic principles decades after their release.

Milton also came to see how, properly crafted, a video can surprise viewers with a new way to think about ideas they believe they understand or have previously rejected. Johan Norberg does this every week with his Dead Wrong vlog. We also do a weekly blog, drawing on the hundreds of hours of videos in our archives. These online products build brands and celebrity by “visiting” viewers every week in a format consistent with shortened attention spans.

The individual also requires time to shape a world view, and even more time to adapt or change that perspective. One of my favorite quotes is from a “hippie” book, The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson: “No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.”

Ferguson, like many, was blinded to reality by a powerful image of a peace-and-love utopia. Yet in this quote, she points to Jonathan Haidt’s recent research that supports our contention that appeals to emotion must be the starting point for increasing understanding and acceptance of a world based on the winning ideas of freedom. That—and acceptance of the timelessness of the effort—should pay dividends if we are wise, patient and persistent.

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Milton’s Legacy Lives On….

In 2015 the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation sponsored and named a puppy for The Seeing Eye® dog organization. That puppy has grown tremendously in the last 2 years, not only in size but also in responsibility. Rightfully named, Milton! We are pleased to share that Milton has passed his rigorous training and graduated. Milton is now working in Kansas helping others see what they cannot, just like the iconic Milton Friedman he was named after.

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The latest release from Free To Choose Network is coming to your area soon!

What can a man with a plain name who lived over 200 years ago tell us about life today? Who was The Real Adam Smith? And why should we care?

In this two-hour, two-part documentary, FTCM Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explores Adam Smith’s life, his ideas about morality and economics, and how the concepts he discussed in his books and lectures are still relevant today.


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Introducing: FTCN Staff Picks

Late last year we began a staff picks email campaign. Free To Choose Network is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and our extensive video library certainly reflects that legacy. In an effort to make use of this footage, we are promoting a short video clip each month. While some of the videos are decades old, we have been impressed to see how often the ideas are still relevant to events happening today. The Staff Picks campaign also gives us the opportunity to highlight segments of our newest documentary releases.


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From the Founder: Between the Ideal and the Possible

The ultimate goal of our efforts can be started simply: reduce the role of government in order to increase individual freedom. The tough part is agreeing on the specifics. What’s the size and scope of government that’s desirable? By what means do we get there? What is the right balance between accepting the need for incremental change and advocating for core principles?First we must establish a vision of limited government, but we have to do so recognizing the electorate will ultimately decide to what extent they’ll accept that vision.Therefore we must devise messages that are convincing to the majority of …

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The latest release of Unlikely Heroes of the Arab Spring from Free To Choose Network is coming to your area!

Dear Friend of Free To Choose Network: The latest release from Free To Choose Network is coming to your area! Unlikely Heroes of the Arab Spring is a one-hour documentary examining recent events in the Middle East through the prism of economics and property rights, a perspective not often considered in traditional media outlets. Beginning with a dramatic act by a young street vendor in Tunisia, we watch as governments are toppled and a spontaneous order of informal markets holds the region together in a tenuous stability.   Seattle KCTS 9/HD Tues 4/29/2014 1:00 AM PT Yakima KYVE 47/HD Tues 4/29/2014 …

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