This chapter addresses the censorship issues faced by Hitchcock while producing his television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It traces the history of broadcast censorship from the introduction of the Federal Communication Commission in 1934 through the development of the National Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Practices in 1951. The Code resembled the Motion Picture Production Code and was accompanied by a Seal of Good Practice, which was displayed on the closing credits of most US television programs from 1952 through the early 1980s. In practice, the sponsors of television programs had more control over programming conduct than the NAB Code. Because TV sponsors were attuned to any negative reaction, and television reached a much wider audience than movies, television content in the 1950s and 1960s was much more susceptible to protests from pressure groups than the movies. Television producers faced more censors than movie producers and were even more timid about confronting them. The Red Scare of the 1950s produced blacklists of television performers that ruined as many lives as the movie blacklists did. The NAB Code became hopelessly outdated and was suspended in 1983, supplanted by a rating system similar to that developed by the MPAA in 1996.
Keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, Federal Communication Commission, National Association of Broadcasters, Production Code Administration, NAB Seal of Good Practice, blacklisting, sponsor control, Alfred Hitchcock Presents
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