History of Shows and Major Events in Television in the 1970s

About the history of television in the 1970s, majors events including the Super Bowl, end of cigarette advertising, Watergate hearings, spread of cable, start of All in the Family and the Waltons.


1970--Professional football reached its greatest viewing audience on Sunday, January 11, when 70 million people watched the Super Bowl game between the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs from New Orleans. "How much is 70 million?" asked author William O. Johnson, Jr. "It is 450 times the population of Athens when Plato lived there ... it is equal to the number of tourists who visit the Mammoth Cave over 140 years .... it is 4 New Yorks plus 7 Chicagos plus 140 Sheboygans." As to the commercials for that game, the cost was $3,333.33 1/3 per second. The Hartford Insurance Company paid $200,000 for one 60-second commercial. Incidentally, those 70 million viewers saw Kansas City whip Minnesota, 23-7.

--Diahann Carroll starred in "Julia," the 1st TV situation comedy that featured a black in the title role.

1971--Cigarette advertising on TV ended on January 1, banned by government edict because of the health hazards of smoking.

--Controversy raged when CBS presented the documentary "The Selling of the Pentagon," which dealt with the public-relations activities of the Dept. of Defense. Some government officials said that CBS had made false charges and had distorted the statements of Pentagon officials. When a House subcommittee sub-poenaed CBS papers pertinent to the show, the network refused to supply them. After heated debate, the House voted not to cite CBS for contempt, and the issue died in the Commerce Committee.

--Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O'Connor, became America's most popular bigot after CBS aired "All in the Family." Despite its immediate popularity, the show was severely attacked for its comic use of racial slurs.

--America's 3 TV networks covered President Nixon's historic trip to China. Viewers were given their 1st look at the communist nation from 18 different locations, including Peking, Shanghai, and the Great Wall of China.

1972--"The Waltons," a series about Depression-era life in rural America, debuted on CBS and became one of the nation's most popular shows.

--ABC's live coverage of the Summer Olympics in Munich brought viewers the unexpected and dramatic news sequences of the Arab terrorists' murderous attack upon Israeli athletes.

1973--Bowing to pressures, CBS granted the U. S. Catholic Conference free TV time to state their antiabortion stance after the "Maude" series aired a 2-part episode about abortion.

--The Public Broadcasting System presented the 12-part "An American Family," a documentary about the daily life of the Louds, a troubled but well-to-do California family. The show was shot over a 7-month period.

--During the spring and summer, the TV networks provided live coverage of the hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities--also called the Watergate hearings. The nation heard conflicting stories of the Watergate scandal, including former White House counsel John Dean's testimony that President Nixon did not "realize or appreciate at any time the implications of his involvement."

1974--TV stations throughout the country interrupted their regular programming to telecast the resignation speech of President Richard Nixon--the 1st time an American President had ever resigned. In his speech, Nixon told the nation, "I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision." The next day, as TV cameras followed citizen Nixon's return to his home in San Clemente, Gerald Ford was inaugurated as the 38th President. Ford declared, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."

--Frank Sinatra's short-lived "retirement" officially ended with a live one-man concert at Madison Square Garden, televised as "Sinatra--The Main Event." Eleven TV cameras covered the performance, capturing the crooner and his interaction with fans.

1975--Cable television spread rapidly, allowing for better reception in isolated areas and creating a proliferation of small, independent TV stations. In Los Angeles, for example, where cable viewers have 17 stations to choose from, it is possible to see programs in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean), as well as news reports for deaf people.

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