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Although most programming at the time came from the networks, it had to be broadcast from a local affiliate. Overlapping signals among some nearby stations and a peak period in the interference-creating sunspot cycle caused near chaos in some areas of the country in the earliest days of television. In September the Federal Communications Commission FCC , under its chairman Wayne Coy, elected to institute a freeze on the licensing of new stations in order to regroup and investigate the problem of station allocation and other regulatory issues.

The freeze was supposed to last a few months, but it was not lifted until April During the freeze large cities such as New York City and Los Angeles could accommodate the growing interest in and appetite for television with no problem, since these locales already had several stations in full operation. Many other cities around the country, however, had only one station, and some cities, both large and small, had none at all.

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When the freeze was finally lifted in , the steadily building desire for television from those who had not yet been able to receive it was satisfied by the swift construction of new stations. Sometime during the —54 season, the percentage of U.


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Television was truly becoming a mass medium, and its programming was starting to reflect it. A must-read for classes in television and popular culture. Weaving together research on audience, TV's promotional strategies, industry perspectives, and the diverse ingredients of comedy, Staiger crafts a vivid landscape of our common cultural pleasures.


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    Rather than attempting to find a magic formula that explains the success of 'must-see' TV shows, Janet Staiger examines how diverse and variable historical factors contributed to the popularity of hit sitcoms. In the process, she makes a vivid contribution to the cultural study of television and signals important directions for future research.

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    100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time

    USD Laverne and Shirley. Cliff Huxtable. Throughout the entire history of American prime-time television only four sitcoms have been true blockbusters, with Nielsen ratings far above the second- and third-rated programs. Weekly, millions of Americans of every age were making a special effort to turn on the set to see what Archie, Jed, Laverne, and Cliff were doing that week.

    How do we account for the huge appeal of these sitcoms, and how does it figure into the history of network prime-time television? Janet Staiger answers these questions by detailing the myriad factors that go into the construction of mass audiences. Treating the four shows as case studies, she deftly balances factual explanations for instance, the impact of VCRs and cable on network domination of TV with more interpretative ones for example, the transformation of The Beverly Hillbillies from a popular show detested by the critics, to a blockbuster after its elevation as the critics' darling , and juxtaposes industry-based reasons for example, the ways in which TV shows derive success from placement in the weekly programming schedule with stylistic explanations how, for instance, certain shows create pleasure from a repetition and variation of a formula.