Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is an ageing TV anchorman for UBS who is fired, effective in two weeks, after his ratings have been steadily deteriorating. He reacts to this by sensationally announcing on live television his intention to commit suicide on air. In doing so, Beale becomes a major TV icon and one of the most valuable assets to the Communications Corporation of America (CCA), the company that is gradually taking control of UBS. As a result he is given his own show as ‘the mad prophet of the air-waves’. He appears live on television every week-day evening to tell the real truth to the people of America. The programme is a huge success but Beale uses his power to make startling revelations about CCA, leaving the company executives with a serious problem.