DuPont Co. begins a two-year sponsorship of the "June Allyson Show," a series of dramatic plays.
The first of four "great debates" between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon is broadcast on Sept. 26 across the country, breaking new ground in presidential campaigning.
TV penetration approaches 90% level.
The most popular shows of the year include "Gunsmoke" and "Wagon Train." Audience share figures regularly exceed 50% for many of the most popular entries in prime time.
In search of added profit, ABC stretches the station break between programs to 40 seconds from 30. The other networks follow.
FCC Chairman Newton Minow delivers a May 9 speech in which he denounces U.S. TV as a "vast wasteland," calling for heightened federal regulation of the medium. The same day, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey calls U.S. TV "the greatest single achievement in communication that anybody or any area of the world has ever known."
In June, Dave Garroway resigns after nine years as host of NBC's "Today" show, having handled an estimated 90% of the commercials for 284 advertisers during that time. Journalist John Chancellor takes over as host.
SIN, the nation's first all-Spanish language network, is founded. KWEX-TV, San Antonio, Texas, becomes the first station to affiliate with the new net, which becomes Univision in 1987.
On Feb. 18, Mrs. John F. Kennedy, the country's First Lady, gives the nation an hourlong televised tour of the White House on CBS.
U.S. television goes international as the Telestar I space satellite is inaugurated July 10 as a history-making device to transmit live news events across the Atlantic.
The New York chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality persuades Lever Bros. to air a network commercial featuring an African-American, a spot for Wisk detergent that shows a black boy and white boy at play.
On Aug. 28,Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his"I have a dream" speech as millions watch on TV.;
On Nov. 22, President Kennedy is shot by a sniper in downtown Dallas, and TV coverage of the assassination and the funeral grip the nation and the world for four days. Shortly thereafter, Jack Ruby shoots accused presidental assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on an NBC live broadcast as the latter is being transported by law officials.
TV surpasses newspapers as an information source for the first time; a November Roper poll indicates 36% of Americans find TV a more reliable source, compared with the 24% who favor print.
Instant replay adds a new dimension to televised sports when it's featured in a telecast of an Army-Navy football game. In 1964, it becomes a standard technique and goes on to become controversial in the NFL.
FCC issues its first cable regulation: Operators are required to black out programming that comes in from distant markets and duplicates a local market station's own programming, if the local station demands it. There are about 1 million homes wired for cable in the U.S. at the time.
73 million viewers tune in to the appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show" of the British pop group, the Beatles.
CBS is the champion of the "Big 3" networks-demanding $50,000 from advertisers for a prime-time minute, while ABC brings in $45,000 and NBC brings in $41,000 for the same time.
WOR-TV, New York, is the first station to air a program comprised only of commercials. The special feature spots selected as Clio award winners at an earlier American Television Commercials Festival. It runs uninterrupted (without paid messages) until the end of the telecast, when two paid commercials are aired.
Color TV booms as NBC leads the way and begins to use the phrase "The Full Color Network." By year's end, 96% of NBC's nighttime schedule is broadcast in color, along with all major programs, sports events and specials. About 2.7 million color sets are sold, more than twice as many as in 1964. Advertisers, increasingly leery of showing their b&w commercials on color programs, rush into using color.
A live-action representation of the comic strip "Batman" is brought to TV and achieves instant success with its star, Adam West.
A New York Times Magazine article reports: "TV is not an art form or a cultural channel; it is an advertising medium .*.*. It seems a bit churlish and unAmerican of people who watch television to complain that their shows are lousy. They are not supposed to be any good. They are supposed to make money."
An opinion survey sponsored by National Association of Broadcasters shows a high level of public dissatisfaction with TV commercials and programs. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed would prefer TV without commercials.
Manufacturers churn out 11.4 million new TV sets, up from the 5.7 million receivers made in 1960.
NAB Code Authority increases scrutiny of violence in TV programming after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a presidential candidate.
Spending for TV in presidential campaigns increases to $27 million, from $10 million in 1960.
Public Broadcasting Service begins, and in November launches "Sesame Street," one of the most influential achievements in children's TV.
On July 20, astronaut Neil Armstrong takes mankind's first step on the moon as millions of U.S. viewers watch the historic event live on network TV.
The U.S. Supreme Court applies the Fairness Doctrine to cigarettes-granting anti-smoking forces "equal time" on the air to reply to tobacco commercials. That same year, the FCC issues a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to ban cigarette ads on TV and radio. As Congress debates the issue, tobacco companies and certain members of the Senate hold discussions in which cigarette advertisers, in order to stave off controls on the sale of cigarettes, agree to stop advertising them on the air.