Television has been around for
over half a century. The first appearance of the television occurred
during the World's Fair in 1939. However, regular broadcasting did not
come into play until the late 1940s (Using TV Sensibly). Saturday morning
children television shows were first aired by the American Broadcasting
Company on August 19, 1950. The American Broadcasting Company presented
two shows for children's viewing they were the Animal Clinic and Acrobat
Ranch (Television History). Since then television shows for children
Programs were classified into several different categories. The categories
were situation comedy, animated cartoons, children's variety programs
and action adventure drama (Comstock 294). Programming was generally
targeted to families generally because they pictured the American families
sitting and viewing their television together.
During the1950s several shows were offered for children's viewing. Network
schedules by 1951 included up to 27 hours of programs for children.
Some of the shows that were feature were Howdy Doody and Kukla, Fran
and Ollie (Children's Programming). The Columbia Broadcasting System
aired animated cartoons such as "The Mighty Mouse Playhouse"
which began in 1955(Television History).
In the 1960s networks featured weekend mornings filled with cartoons.
Saturday morning cartoons were a tradition in many homes by the end
of the decade (Television History). The 1970s offered extended shows
for children such as Scooby Laff-a Lympics. These shows were created
in order to increase audience flow across the entire morning. Children's
programming in the 1980s was influenced by the rapid growth of the cable
industry. Cartoons still remained to be the standard children's fare.
The cable networks such as Disney and Nickelodeon primarily aimed their
programming to children. As well as the other cable networks that offered
children's programming like Discovery, Learning Channel, USA, TBS, the
Family Channel and Lifetime have all experimented in programming for
children. By the 1990s the Children's Television Act introduced many
educational shows for children's viewing (Children's Programming).
Children's programming has changed dramatically over the past decades
and today networks are still trying to improve their variety of children
shows. The production of children's programming is a big business because
these shows are almost always profitable. The reason for this is because
the child audience changes rapidly and because children do not mind
seeing reruns, so the programs are shown as many as four times in a
year (Children's Programming).
The concern about the impact of television on children began when TV
was in its infancy. By the early 1950s, parents, teachers and social
scientists asked their legislators to do something about the harmful
effects of television viewing (Using TV Sensibly).After this there has
been a large-scale of academic research that have been mounted to monitor,
analyze and explain the relationships between television and children.
Thus, the significant policy decision was continued to be made based
on the research shown and on the economic and political power that has
brought these issues into play (Children's Programming).
The first congressional hearings
which addressed violence took place in June 1952. During a long history
of public regulatory debate on television, government commissions pursued
the related agendas. The key to these interactions were the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
and citizen's advocacy and action groups. The FCC intended to change
a number of policies regarding children's programming. The FTC petitioned
for regulation of advertising directed at children. The 1990 Children's
Television Act was the first congressional act that was specifically
meant to regulate children's television. Despite the numerous proposals
the issues came up again in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Although
with all these different legislative agendas the negative issues of
children's television still arises (Children's Programming).