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The power of TV to captivate and entertain children is entering its seventh decade. Here are some of the milestones in programming, advertising and attempts to control the medium's influence over young people.


"Howdy Doody" premieres live on NBC as 1-hour Saturday program.


The major networks stake out Saturday morning as a kids programming block.


"Watch Mr. Wizard" brings its scientific method to NBC. Don Herbert would reprise his Mr. Wizard persona into the early 1980s, when he appeared on Nickelodeon.


Tony the Tiger starts roaring "They're GRRREAT!" for Kellogg Co.'s Frosted Flakes in advertising created by Leo Burnett Co.

Educator Frances Horwich, aka Miss Frances, calls class to order on her NBC debut of "Ding Dong School."

A superhero lands on TV as "Adventures of Superman" is offered in syndication, with Kellogg as a sponsor.


"Winky Dink & You," often considered the first interactive kids show, debuts on CBS. Viewers can attach an acetate sheet to the TV screen and draw erasable pictures that tie in with cartoon.

A dog puppet named Farfel appears in ads for Nestle's Quik, helping sing the jingle, "N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle's makes the very best-choc-late."


Walt Disney launches on ABC his first regularly scheduled TV series, titled "Disneyland."

"Captain Midnight," Ovaltine and decoder badges make the jump from radio to TV, on CBS.

"The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin" debuts on ABC. Tales of heroic dog in the Old West attract ads from Gravy Train dog food.

Preschooler show "Romper Room" debuts. The show was franchised to local stations across the country by Claster Television. The program endured into early 1990s.


"Captain Kangaroo" begins on CBS. Many early kids shows were either entertainment- or education-based, and the "Captain" was one of the first to combine both themes. The show ran for three decades.

"M-I-C-See you real soon ..." "THE Mickey Mouse Club" and its Mouseketeers debut on ABC.


Animated kid Marky Maypo first screams, "I want my Maypo!" in advertising for the maple-flavor cereal.


"American Bandstand" makes its national debut on ABC and turns Dick Clark into a national figure-and reliable product pitchman. Music is a major theme in kids TV. That goes for programming-ranging from "Shindig!" (ABC, 1964) and "Hullabaloo" (NBC, 1965) to MTV-as well as retooled pop songs in commercials.


Choo-Choo Charlie pulls out of the station in ads for Good & Plenty candy. Charlie even inspires a Milton Bradley board game.


Ronald McDonald, portrayed by Willard Scott, makes his first TV appearance for McDonald's.


CBS' "Ed Sullivan Show" attracts 73 million views to watch the Beatles.


Public Broadcasting Service is born. PBS debuts Children's Television Workshop's "Sesame Street," populated by Big Bird and other Muppet pals created by Jim Henson.


Action for Children's Television, founded in 1968 by the housewife-cum-activist Peggy Charren, petitions the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate all commercials from children's programs on TV.


National Association of Broadcasters and the networks agree to reduce commercial time in children's weekend fare from 16 minutes to 12 minutes an hour and other revisions in the code.


NAB places additional curbs on ads to children.

Children's Advertising Review Unit of National Advertising Division is created.


Nickelodeon launches on April Fools' Day as a kids programming block on the Qube Network. Now a unit of Viacom, Nick reaches more than 300 million households worldwide and is top ad outlet in kids TV.


Hanna-Barbera brings "The Smurfs" to NBC. The blue elves were already a popular toy line in the U.S., marketed by Applause.

MTV: Music Television makes its debut.


"G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" cartoon show launched, based on the Hasbro toy. Although there were no actual ad spots for G.I. Joe on the program, critics accused the show and similar syndicated kids fare, developed by toy companies, of being half-hour commercials. Other toys receiving their own TV shows included Hasbro's Transformers, Mattel's He-Man & the Masters of the Universe and Kenner's Care Bears.

Disney Channel debuts (network today is in 80 million homes).


Children's Television Act is passed by Congress, limiting the amount of commercialization in kids TV programming, including cable.


Turner Broadcasting System launches Cartoon Network; now part of AOL Time Warner, today it's No. 2 in kids TV ad revenue.


ESPN holds its first Extreme Games. In 1996, the name is changed to X Games.


FCC uses Children's Television Act to set standards for broadcasting industry.


"SpongeBob SquarePants" first surfaces on Nickelodeon (parent Viacom reports "SpongeBob" has been the top-rated show for kids 2-11 since third quarter '01).


Nickelodeon offers interactive TV with BubbleCast, in which kids can watch "Rugrats" on the cable network and simultaneously play a related game on


National kids upfront TV sales for 2002-03 season rise 7% to $815 million.


In an online survey, 86% of young people say they have a VCR or personal video recorder like TiVo in their home, and 54% say they use it at least sometimes to zap past commercials.

Sources include Steve Rotterdam, chief creative officer, EastWest Creative, New York; Joe Fontana, general manager-partner, Ziccardi Partners Frierson Mee, New York; NeoPets Youth Study 2003; "The Advertising Age Encyclopedia of Advertising"; "50 Years of TV Advertising," an Ad Age special collectors edition; TV Acres (; and company reports.

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