Rural purge

Rural purge

The "Rural Purge" of American television networks was a series of cancellations of still-popular rural-themed or senior citizen-skewing shows. The purge was instigated by CBS executive Fred Silverman in 1971, following research highlighting the greater attraction to advertisers of the more affluent younger urban viewer demographic and the institution of the Federal Communications Commission's Prime Time Access Rule, which led to the loss of a half-hour of network programming each night. While it is most commonly associated with CBS, ABC also followed a similar pattern.

Silverman, disturbed by CBS's reputation as the "Country Broadcasting System," decided not to renew a number of long-running and short-lived shows that were either rural oriented or had a low youth/ urban demographic: "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Mayberry R.F.D.", "Green Acres", "Hee Haw", "The Jim Nabors Hour", "The Ed Sullivan Show", "Family Affair", and "Hogan's Heroes" were all cancelled. Pat Buttram, who played "Mr. Haney" on "Green Acres", said at the time, "It was the year CBS killed everything with a tree in it." [ [ Ken Berry inerview] ] Silverman had actually begun some of the moves a year earlier; in 1970, he cancelled "Petticoat Junction" and "The Red Skelton Show" for many of the same reasons, and added to the schedule "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".

When CBS axed "Hee Haw" in 1971, it immediately went into first run syndication, and ran for another twenty-one and a half years, ending in 1993.

Silverman replaced much of the canceled programming in 1971 and 1972 with such urban-oriented, "relevant" fare as "All in the Family" (and its many spinoffs), "The Bob Newhart Show" and "M*A*S*H". Under Silverman's watch, game shows returned to the network during this time as well, including "The Price Is Right", which debuted in September 1972.

Many reference books and websites claim that the canceled shows were still enormously popular when they were axed in 1971. This is somewhat of an overstatement; Nielsen ratings for the 1970-71 season show that most had actually fallen out of the Top 30. The highest rated of the shows to be cancelled were "Mayberry RFD" (at #15) and "The Beverly Hillbillies" (at #33, down from #18 the previous year). Fact|date=May 2008

ABC was also looking for younger demographics, and in May 1971 canceled the long-running "The Lawrence Welk Show" which, like "Hee-Haw", transitioned to first-run syndication where it ran until 1982. ABC also cancelled "The Johnny Cash Show".

While younger audiences are favored by advertising agencies for their impulsive buying, syndicators are less apt to write off older demographics{cite}, as they tend to have more money, and are usually less fickle/more loyal in the long run. (see "Too Close for Comfort", and "Mama's Family", both syndicated after network cancellation).

Shows cancelled after the 1970-71 season

"Note that some of these shows did NOT have a rural theme."
*The Beverly Hillbillies
*The Ed Sullivan Show
*Family Affair
*Green Acres
*The Governor and J.J.
*The Headmaster
*Hee Haw
*Hogan's Heroes
*The Interns
*The Jim Nabors Hour
*Mayberry R.F.D.
*Storefront Lawyers
*The Tim Conway Comedy Hour
*To Rome With Love

See also

* Sticks nix hick pix


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