THE 1940S IN THE BEGINNING...25,000-PLUS BECAME ENTRANCED BY TELEVISION AT A DEMONSTRATION AT A GIMBEL'S STORE, AND ADVERTISERS WERE QUICK TO FOLLOW THE GENESIS OF A MASS AUDIENCE

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1945

In February, at the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Central Region meeting, Foote, Cone & Belding co-founder Emerson Foote urges agencies to start preparatory work on TV advertising.

Following postwar allocation hearings in May, the FCC rules black & white TV may proceed on a commercial basis, but that color has to await further research. Commercial TV stations become available in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Schenectady, N.Y.

A Campbell-Ewald VP in May urges agencies to prepare for video as a new ad medium: "There are plenty of opportunities for those who wish to get in on the ground floor and become familiar with the potentialities of audio visual advertising."

In October, the U.S. government lifts its wartime ban on the construction of new TV stations and TV sets. Over the previous four years, the FCC had received applications for station licenses but had taken no action. When World War II ended, there were fewer than 7,000 working TV sets in the country and only nine stations on the air; three in New York, two each in Chicago and Los Angeles, and one each in Philadelphia and Schenectady, N.Y.

RCA that same month holds its first public demonstration of a new TV camera offering a sharper image than those then in use.

Near the end of October, Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia holds the first large-scale TV demonstration in years. More than 25,000 people come over three weeks for a chance to watch NBC programs from New York and local shows sent out by Philco's Philadelphia station.

CBS sets up a Television Audience Research Institute, inviting advertisers to avail themselves of the network TV personnel and studios to create and pre-test new techniques of commercial video as well as field-test their effectiveness under conditions of actual telecasting.

Lever Bros. signs on for four half-hour shows to be produced on the CBS station in New York, WCBW. Among the national advertisers using TV this year: Bulova Watch Co., Botany Worsted Mills, Pan American World Airways, Firestone Tire & Rubber, RCA Victor, Gillette Safety Razor, Esso gasolines (all on NBC's WNBT, New York), Lever Bros., U.S. Rubber, R.H. Macy & Co. and Alexander Smith & Sons (on WABD, the New York station owned by DuMont).

The Blue network, part of NBC, officially becomes the ABC network. A 1941 FCC ruling required RCA to divest itself of one of its two networks; NBC Blue was sold in 1943 to Edward Noble for $8 million, and becomes ABC in 1945.

1946

NBC and Gillette stage what's billed as the first "television sports extravaganza"-the Joe Louis-Billy Conn heavyweight fight at Yankee Stadium-in June. The fight is a viewing success, with an estimated audience of 150,000 watching 5,000 sets. For every TV set tuned into the fight, there are, on average, 30 people watching, many seeing an event on TV for the first time.

In October, the Television Broadcasters Association declares "television is ready to proceed on a greatly expanded commercial basis," and that the new industry is "well on the way to becoming one of the most important in the nation."

William Paley, president of CBS since 1928, is promoted to the position of chairman.

1947

"Howdy Doody," a children's series, premieres live on NBC in December, as a one-hour Saturday program. Symbolic of the first generation nurtured on TV, the show remains on the air until 1960.

In March, FCC postpones final decisions on color TV but reaffirms a go-ahead on existing b&w standards.

NBC debuts "Meet the Press," a kind of made-for-TV news conference. It goes on to become the oldest series on network TV.

1948

"The Ed Sullivan Show" (originally "Toast of the Town") makes its debut in June. Sponsored by Lincoln-Mercury, the show becomes one of TV's longest-running and most successful variety series. The show airs on CBS into 1971, spurring the advancement of scores of show business careers.

Advertisers accept the medium: Throughout the year, 933 sponsors buy TV time, a rise of 515% over 1947.

By the fall, FCC has issued 108 licenses for new stations, with hundreds more applications pending across the nation.

The earliest cable systems are born in remote areas of Pennsylvania and Oregon. Known then as Community Antenna Television, its function was simply to bring TV signals into communities where off-air reception was either non-existent or poor because of interfering mountains or distance.

B.F. Goodrich sponsors the new TV series of radio comedy team George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Milton Berle makes his TV debut in September as the master of ceremonies on "The Texaco Star Theater," which runs until 1956. By November, Mr. Berle is so popular the show earns the highest rating yet recorded by the C.E. Hooper ratings company-86.7% of all TV households.

1949

By January, number of TV stations grows to 98 (in 58 market areas) from 18 (in 12 areas) the previous year.

A special broadcast in January inaugurates East-Midwest TV linkage. Included in the broadcast is a one-hour sampler with the networks displaying their best: Arthur Godfrey for CBS, Ted Steele for DuMont, Milton Berle and Harry Richman for NBC, and for ABC a mystery show called "Stand By for Crime." The event moves Chicago Tribune to report: "The end of dull, sustaining filler on television screens appears to be in sight."

FCC adopts the Fairness Doctrine, making broadcasters responsible for seeking out and presenting all sides of an issue when covering controversy. (Earlier, in the Communications Act of 1934, broadcasters were required to give "equal air time" to candidates running in elections.)

U.S. Dept. of Commerce confirms TV's selling power when it reports in May: "Television's combination of moving pictures, sound and immediacy produces an impact that extends television as an advertising medium into the realm of personal sales solicitation."

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