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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.
Tags: CBS  rural  purge  television 
Added: 22nd January 2011
Views: 13268
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2011-01-22 
The most egregious cancellation during the CBS 'rual purge' was Red Skelton being axed in 1970 after 17 successful seasons. Red was said to be bitter about CBS's cancellation for many years to follow. He bitterly accused CBS of caving in to the anti-establishment, anti-war faction at the height of the Vietnam War, saying his conservative politics and traditional values caused CBS to turn against him. Skelton often invited prominent Republicans, including Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen to appear on his program.

When he was presented with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Governor's Award in 1986, Skelton received a standing ovation. 'I want to thank you for sitting down,' Skelton said when the ovation subsided. 'I thought you were pulling a CBS and walking out on me.'

Posted by: eric1957 on 2011-01-22 
The Red Skelton Show after cancellation by CBS went to NBC for the 70-71 TV season. It ran for one season. It's a bit ironic that CBS did this purge after cancelling the Smothers Brothers in the Spring of '69.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2011-01-23 
The Smothers Brothers were cancelled for being too controversial. The rural shows were probably considered too benign. I suppose CBS wanted to establish some type of middle ground.
Posted by: Musicollector on 2011-01-28 
I am still enraged about this and like Red, I will never forgive CBS. Some of the greatest shows ever in the history of TV were unceremoniously axed! In retrospect, today, everybody knows how fabulous those shows turned out to be. I see the crop of reality garbage today and, guess what, CBS is the one who pioneered the disgusting reality show genre with the detestable Survivor! A sad, pathetic network! I have programmed the CBS channels out of my line-up.
Posted by: Classico on 2011-02-03 
I occasionally watched some of those shows above and agree that they were good programming. The one show that I watched every week without fail was the Smothers Brothers because it was great entertainment. Political dupe William Paley did all he could to censor their shows and ultimately took it off the air despite its high ratings.

I especially liked when Tom called Dick a ''fascist''. The irony being that Dick wasn't actually a liberal. But he took it well and we all had good laughs.
Posted by: ILiveInThePast on 2011-08-11 
It's so ironic that after the country purge, the only rural show left was The Waltons, which turned out to be the most beloved TV family hour in network history.
Posted by: Zippyjet on 2017-07-10 
Today, we need a reality show purge. Like big fugly SUV's it seems there is always a new reality show or lame talent/game program. ABC bringing back American Idol, Candy Crush, The Wall etc. These garbage programs breed like cockroaches. Big Brother, Survivor and the talent shows have got to go. Enough already. Was never a fan of Red Skelton but the dead old comic beats the current crop of crap on TV. BTW Skelton sounds like Skeleton.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2017-07-11 
What irks me about reality shows is that they're not real. They are totally contrived. What's so real about putting people on an island to compete for a jackpot? I really resent how the reality genre has perverted some specialty networks. Here in Canada, our History Television cable channel is 90% reality shows now. I used to love the documentaries they once aired but seldom do now.
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I loved how absurd and illogical Green Acres was.Elk Grove Tree Care
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