PTC Calls for Return of TV's Family Viewing Hour

The Parents Television Council has called on the broadcast networks to restore the primetime family hour (8-9 p.m.) and a daytime block for educational and informational programming given that a number of kids are now homebound due to the pandemic. 

“During this most extraordinary time in our nation’s history, each of you is uniquely positioned to be a positive and powerful resource for every child, and every family, in America," PTC president Tim Winter wrote. "I respectfully but urgently call on the five of you, individually or perhaps even collectively, to use the massive reach of your broadcast signals in greater service to the public interest." 

Related: PTC Says HBO Should Stream Sesame Street Free 

The five getting letters from Winter were George Cheeks, CEO, CBS Entertainment Group; Charlie Collier, CEO, Fox Entertainment; Mark Pedowitz, president, The CW Television Network; Jeff Shell, CEO, NBCUniversal; and Dana Walden, chairman, Disney Television Studios & ABC Entertainment. 

The FCC created the Family Viewing Hour in 1975 under pressure from critics of broadcast content, but a court ruled it unconstitutional in 1976 after the programming guilds challenged it, as did Norman Lear after CBS moved All in the Family from its 8 p.m. time period to 9 p.m. 

Judge Warren J. Ferguson held that the FCC had pressured the industry to enact the content restrictions, creating a national censorship board in violation of the First Amendment, though he did say that the hour would be okay if it were voluntarily adopted.  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.