25 Years Ago in Reason

August 1981

“Cries for controls are being heard over cable television’s more ‘explicit’ offerings, even though cable and subscription TV customers voluntarily pay for the service, and if they’re offended, they can always cancel.…The networks have been griping, too, about ‘social responsibility’ and the lack thereof in alternative television.”

—Robert Poole Jr. and Christine Dorffi, “Trends”

FCC has restricted commercial broadcasting to fairly large blocks of service areas. This is how a few stations have come to serve thousands of square miles and millions of viewers. The problem is that large service areas are not the most efficient units for reaching certain audiences.…Examples of programs that were intensely popular among smaller viewing groups, and thus faced cancellation on commercial television, include Lawrence Welk among elder viewers, Dark Shadows among teenagers, Star Trek among science fiction fans, The Waltons among nostalgic idealists, and Dick Cavett or Paper Chase among intellectuals.”

—Robert G. Docters, “Low-Power to the People”

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