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1970s / CBS Rural Purge
From 1969 through 1972, a 'rural purge' of American television networks (in particular, CBS) dramatically changed the prime time television landscape. The majority of cancellations occurred at the end of the 1970-71 television season. While cancellations have always been part of the television business, the fact that many of the cancelled shows were still quite popular made the move very controversial. Basically, the rural-themed shows lacked the young, urban-demographic audiences that CBS desired. Pat Buttram, who played Mr. Haney on Green Acres, famously noted, '[It was] the year CBS killed everything with a tree in it.' The first rural-themed show cancelled by CBS was Petticoat Junction. (This came as no real surprise as Petticoat Junction had lagged in the ratings since Bea Benaderet's death in 1968.) In September 1970 The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS. All in the Family premiered in January 1971 as a mid-season replacement. Both series provided the urban demographic and ratings that CBS sought. These successes prompted the network to cancel Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mayberry RFD, Hee-Haw, Lassie, and The Jim Nabors Hour at the end of the 1970-71 season. The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour lasted until the end of the 1971-72 season. Non-rural themed shows cancelled included sitcoms Family Affair and Hogan's Heroes in 1971, with the long running My Three Sons ending in 1972. Variety shows that had been around since the late 1940s and early 1950s, The Jackie Gleason Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, were cancelled in 1970 and 1971 respectively. The Red Skelton Show was cancelled by CBS at the end the 1969-70 season. Skelton never forgave CBS.