Academic Executives

“…. Writing a master’s thesis about ABC’s programming practices, (eventual CBS head of programming Fred) Silverman coined the phrase the ‘get-age’ families to refer to people in the age brackets most likely to be major purchasers and, of course, those to be treasured by advertisers. Silverman’s thesis promoted other programming strategies including counterprogramming, linking shows that might have a flow in audiences, and ‘crossplugging’ in which a star in one program appears in another show. Most of all, his thesis encouraged seeking a youth audience….”

Staiger, Janet. Blockbuster TV: Must-See Sitcoms in the Network Era. New York and London: New York University Press, 2000. Web. p. 99-100.

This section is on Silverman’s decision in 1971 to cancel CBS’ long-running, older-leaning slate and renew All in the Family before the show hit its legendarily high ratings. He completed his Master’s at Ohio State.

Postscript: “…. (Fred Silverman) had written his Ohio State University master’s thesis on ABC’s programming between 1953 and 1959, the period in which the new network achieved a status just shy of its competitors. In the thesis, he argued for the value of program promotion, audience research, a flexible schedule, long-term contracts with prolific producers, series programming over ‘spectaculars,’ and merchandising tie-ins, all of which became prominent components of his own contributions to ABC in the 1970s. The thesis also contended that ABC’s targeting of young families with children was its most important strategy, another principle from which he would borrow when he controlled the ABC schedule.”

Levine, Elana. Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007. Print. p. 32-3.

Note that Silverman moved from head of programming at CBS to president of ABC Entertainment in 1975.


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