Television History - The First 75 Years
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1942-1945 TV Program Guides


At the onset of World War-II, worldwide television broadcasting was curtailed or halted completely.  The country most drastically affected was England, whose TV broadcasting was shut down from noon, September 1, 1939 until June 7, 1946.  Approximately 19,000 TV sets were operating in the London area at that time.

In the United States, commercial broadcasting was unaffected until 1942.  At that time, virtually all stations went dark with the exception of DuMont's WABD, in New York, who broadcast (with a reduced schedule) throughout the war.  Less than 20 stations were in operation nationwide, in the pre-war period.  TV was used (among other things) to entertain the troops, provide updates on the war, and to teach the public civil defense and demonstrate emergency first-aid procedures.

Not much survives about the day-to-day programming, but we do have some examples of Program Postcards that were mailed to the approximately 2,000 owners of television sets in the New York area.  A few examples from this time period are shown below. 

1945 Jan 28th - DuMont WW-II Program Card  (50K bytes) (50K) -- Week of January 28th, 1945 -- DuMont television station WABD -- Channel 4 -- Program Postcard.  Notice that programming was limited to three days per week, about 1 or 2 evening hours on each day.  Also interesting is that a "test pattern will be on one half-hour before each show time .."  This was to allow set owners time to make the necessary adjustments for good reception!  Times sure have changed!

Note: The original DuMont cards were dark green ink on light-beige card stock.  The color has been electronically1940s DuMont Program Postcard  (25K bytes) removed in these examples to enhance readability on the website.  The scan on the right-hand side shows true coloration of the program postcard.  (25K bytes)

1940s DuMont WABD Program Evaluation Card  (72K bytes)


(72K) -- Typical wartime Program evaluation card.  Viewers that were kind enough to mail this card back to the station helped provide feedback as to which shows the TV-owners enjoyed most.




1945 April 20th (Mail Date) VE Day Announcement  (50K bytes) (50K)
This WNBT card was mailed to set owners on April 20, 1945, announcing the impending coverage of V-E day.

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