A QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE
GOLDEN ERA OF CHILDREN’S TELEVISION

Melissa A. Apperson, Maria T. Interiano, Crystal G. Gentry
(Dr. Connie Book) School of Communications

In his anthology, Hi There Boys and Girls: America’s Local Children’s TV Programs, researcher Tim Hollis (2001) details a three year national effort collecting information about children’s television programming. This study builds on that catalog by quantifying the wealth of information collected by Hollis to create the first national database of local children’s television programming and to use that database to offer quantitative descriptions of local children’s television in the United States from 1940 to 2000. Trends in the 976 local children’s television programs researched and analyzed, illustrate that local children’s television programs were embraced nationwide during the 1950s and 1960s, and that the decline of local children’s television shows, while frequently cited as caused by the 1973 National Association of Broadcaster’s voluntary policy of not allowing children’s programs to include within the program itself sponsorship or advertising, actually was more likely due to the availability of syndicated and procured programming options. The thematic orientations of local children’s television programs illustrate cultural trends in the southern states where local children’s television was more dominant and that no market size was too small to have local talent. The database also illustrates the popular themes of children’s television over time, the domination of males as local children’s host and reveals significant insights into a key attribute of local television during its initial presence in the United States.

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