45 Years Ago Today, Mister Rogers Saved Public Television
As Tim Lybarger of The Neighborhood Archive reminds us, today is a big anniversary in TV history. When the government wanted to cut Public Television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington to appear before a Senate subcommittee. Almost straight out of a Capra film, his testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 million to $22 million.
Years later, Rogers also swayed the Supreme Court to allow VCRs to record television shows from home. It was a tumultuous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down later with their children and watch shows as a family.
Need more Mister Rogers? One of the first episodes of our YouTube series was all about him.