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Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 16, 2015
Toddlers Truce

Toddlers Truce

February 16, 1957: The Toddlers Truce ends. British television began as British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcasts only. The BBC is a UK-based international public service broadcaster. It is the world’s oldest broadcasting organization. It is a statutory corporation with a Royal Charter and is funded principally by an annual television license fee charged to all British households, companies, and organizations using any type of equipment to receive or record live television broadcasts. The fee is set by the British Government. In 1954, the Independent Television Authority was established to created Independent Television (ITV), the first commercial TV network in the United Kingdom. ITV was launched on September 22, 1955 to provide competition to the BBC. Naturally, the BBC was not entirely thrilled with the new company.

BBC began to broadcast once again after the end of World War II and at that time instituted the Toddlers Truce. It was uncontroversial from 1946 until ITV began to broadcast. BBC broadcast children’s programming up to 6 PM. The evening schedule of programming began at 7 PM. From six to seven, there were no broadcasts at all so that parents would be able to get their small children tucked into bed. The BBC found the Toddlers Truce to be compatible with their income stream. Their funding was secured by license fees and with the hour less to fill, it was actually economically advantageous for them. The ITV was paid for from advertising revenue and with one less hour on the air, their chance to run ads and thus gain fees was curtailed. This loss of revenue was critical to the fledgling company.

Supporters of ITV argued that the Truce was just one more way for government interference. They had faced strong political opposition and won, but this Truce was giving the BBC an unfair advantage. The ITA encouraged their ITV companies to seek abolition of the truce. At the time, ITV was formed by Granada, ABC Television, ATV, and Associated-Rediffusion. The companies were unable to effectively cooperated and it was not until July 1956 that action was finally taken. In the UK, the Postmaster General is head of the government branch responsible for television. Earl De La Warr had been in charge during the years of the Truce. He had been replaced by Charles Hill, who disliked the idea.

Even with this support, the BBC was adamant about keeping the Truce and would not even compromise to reducing the time to just 30 minutes. Hill grew tired of bargaining and asked Parliament to simply abolish the policy which they did on October 31, 1956. The BBC and ITA could not agree on a date of termination and so Hill chose this day, a Saturday. The BBC filled the hour with music on the first Saturday, continued to shut down on Sundays, and filled weekdays with Tonight, a news magazine show. In 1961, they finally began Songs of Praise for Sunday broadcasts. In 1992, BBC stopped religious programming and filled the Sunday hour with news. Crossroads is still shown on BBC1 and most ITV regions.

This restriction seemed to me absurd and I said so. It was the responsibility of parents, not the state, to put their children to bed at the right time. – Charles Hill

The most watched programme on the BBC, after the news, is probably ‘Doctor Who.’ What has happened is that science fiction has been subsumed into modern literature. There are grandparents out there who speak Klingon, who are quite capable of holding down a job. No one would think twice now about a parallel universe. – Terry Pratchett

You know, the BBC had not been particularly generous in its deliverance of blues and esoteric kinds of music. – Keith Richards

Before the BBC, I joined the Navy in order to travel. – David Attenborough

Also on this day: King Tut – In 1923, Howard Carter opened the tomb of King Tutankhamen.
Nylon – In 1937. Nylon was patented.
Altmark Incident – In 1940, the German ship, Altmark, was boarded by cutlass wielding soldiers.
What Is Your Emergency? – In 1968, 9-1-1 service began.
Icelandic Football – In 1899, the KR was founded.

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