Friday, March 9, 2007

The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

On July 1, 1941, under the helm of William Paley, CBS planned to begin commercial broadcasting. Theater Guild charter member Worthington Miner was tapped to develop 15 hours of television a week. Those hours were filled with broadcasts of fairy tales, quiz shows, and talk shows. Anything more ambitious was ruled out due to licensing restraints from ASCAP and other entities. No one wanted a part of television.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Miner was at home in Connecticut when he heard the news, and rushed to the New York studio to cover the story on air. At 8 pm that same evening, Miner set up a fan to gently blow a waving American flag under the hot studio lights, called in an announcer, and broadcast the days horrific news. Once again, there were few in the viewing audience to witness the historic broadcast, but it was evidence of the depth and potential of television.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor stopped the nation in her tracks. From that day forward, everything changed as the nation's complete focus was on war. After a few months, in early 1942, Paley and CBS ceased commercial televison broadcast indefinitely.

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