Survey of Broadcasting: Assignment 1, Question 3: What were the events that led up to the “quiz show scandals”? What were the major effects after the scandal broke?–Videos

Posted on June 20, 2011. Filed under: Advertising, Broadcasting, Business, Communications, Ethical Practices, Ethics, Game Shows, Issues, Law, Movies, News, Politics, Television | Tags: , , , , , , , |

III. What were the events that led up to the “quiz show scandals”? What were the major effects after the scandal broke?

Where Knowledge Is King and The Reward King Size

The concept of winning a large sum of money on a quiz show by correctly answering a series of questions was not new to either television or radio. However, what was new and attracted a large percentage of the viewing audience was the television show, “The $64,000 Question”, that first aired on CBS on June 7, 1955. The contestants would be asked a series of progressively more difficult questions. If they answered correctly, they proceeded to the four big payoff questions: $8,000, $16,000, $32,000, and lastly the $64,000 question.

CBS-$64,000 Question-1956

$64,000 Question

The contestants answered their questions in isolation booths. Armed guards watched over the box that contained the questions that only the editors knew what the questions and correct answers were.

The $64,000 Question show was sponsored by Revlon. Revlon as a direct result of the show saw its sales skyrocket. The other networks quickly followed with their own big money shows. NBC aired “The Big Surprise” where contestants could win $100,000. CBS quickly responded with “The $64,000 Challenge” with a top money prize of $128,000. The show “Break the Bank offered a top prize of $250,000.  Finally, NBC had the show :”Twenty-One” where there was no limit as to the amount of money a contestant could win.

64 THOUSAND DOLLAR CHALLENGE SONNY FOX part 2 VINCENT PRICE

 

Twenty One: Stemple vs. Van Doren–Part One

Rumors began to circulate that the producers tried to keep popular contestants on the shows by “controlling” the questions asked and even coaching contestants to look nervous and tense while answering.

One contestant on “Twenty-One” charged that he was encouraged to take a dive or intentionally lose to another popular contestant, Charles Van Doren, a 30-year old English instructor at Columbia University. Van Doren stated that the quiz show was honest. The New York City district attorney’s office investigated the allegations and a grand jury was impaneled to hear the mounting evidence.

A losing contestant on NBC’s “Twenty-One” sent three self-addressed letter containing the questions and answers to an upcoming show by registered mail. These unopened envelopes were presented to the grand jury as evidence. Other contestants came forward indicating they too had been given the answers. In 1959 the House of Representatives conducted a hearing on the matter. One of the witnesses was Charles Van Doren who finally admitted that he too was given the answers and was coached.

By 1960 all the big money shows were taken off the air. The networks took  more control over program development and less power and control was given to the producers and sponsors of network shows. In the next few years, the networks attempted to restore their reputation and gain back the viewing public’s trust by broadcasting such shows as CBS Reports. Several networks also placed limits on the amounts of money contestants could win on quiz shows that were not rigged. These limits were repealed in 2008.

The Congress of the United States also passed amendments to the Communication Act of 1934 that were designed to prevent any one from fixing quiz shows in the future.

The Federal Communications Commission also ordered that the host of “Twenty-One”, Jack Barry, and the producer, Dan Enright, sell their  radio station in Hollywood, Florida, WGMA.

 

 

Background Articles and Videos

 

Twenty One: Stemple vs. Van Doren–Part Two

 

Twenty One: Stemple vs. Van Doren–Part Three

 

 

21-Quiz Show Scandals

 

Quiz Show Scandals

 Quiz Show Trailer

Quiz show scandals

“…The American quiz show scandals of the 1950s were a series of revelations that contestants of several popular television quiz shows were secretly given assistance by the show’s producers to arrange the outcome of a supposedly fair competition.

In 1956, the game show Twenty-One, hosted by Jack Barry, featured a contestant coached by producer Dan Enright to make the other contestant win the game. This was brought into focus in 1958 when Enright and Barry were revealed to have rigged the show and caused networks to cancel the quiz shows. This element of the scandal was portrayed in the 1994 movie Quiz Show.

As a result, many contestants’ reputations have been tarnished. The United States Congress passed the 1960 amendments of the Communications Act of 1934, preventing anyone from fixing quiz shows. Due to that action, many networks imposed a winnings limit on game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and The Price Is Right (the limits were repealed by 2008). The scandal even resulted in the declining ratings of shows that were not rigged, such as You Bet Your Life.

Twenty One

“…Twenty One is an American game show that aired in the late 1950s. While it included the most popular contestant of the quiz show era, it achieved notoriety for being a rigged quiz show which nearly caused the demise of the entire genre in the wake of United States Senate investigations. The 1994 movie Quiz Show is based on these events.

In 1982, a pilot for a new version of the game (titled 21) was taped with Jim Lange hosting, but was not picked up. A new version aired in 2000 with Maury Povich hosting, lasting about five months on NBC. …”

“…Overview

The initial broadcast of Twenty One was played honestly, with no manipulation of the game by the producers. Unfortunately, that broadcast was, in the words of producer Dan Enright, “a dismal failure”; the first two contestants succeeded only in making a mockery of the format by how little they really knew. Show sponsor Geritol, upon seeing this opening-night performance, reportedly became furious with the results, and threatened to pull their sponsorship of the show if it happened again.

The end result: Twenty One was not merely “fixed”, it was almost totally choreographed. Contestants were cast almost as if they were actors, and in fact were active and (usually) willing partners in the deception. They were given instruction as to how to dress, what to say to the host, when to say it, what questions to answer, what questions to miss, even when to mop their brows in their isolation booths (which had air conditioning that could be cut off at will, to make them sweat more).

 Charles Van Doren

Charles Van Doren, a college professor, was introduced as a contestant on Twenty One on November 28, 1956, as a challenger to then-champion Herbert Stempel, a dominant contestant, though somewhat unpopular with viewers and eventually the sponsor. Van Doren and Stempel ultimately played to a series of four 21-21 games, with audience interest building with each passing week and each new game, until finally the clean-cut, “All American Boy” newcomer was able to outlast his bookish, quasi-intellectual opponent, who at one point after the game was referred to backstage as a “freak with a sponge memory”. The turning point came on a question directed to Stempel: “What film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1955?” Stempel legitimately knew the answer to that question was Marty, as it was one of his favorite films. The producers ordered him to answer the question with 1954’s Best Picture winner, On the Waterfront. Stempel later recalled that there was a moment in the booth when his conscience and sense of fair play warred with his sense of obligation and that he almost disrupted the scripted outcome by giving the correct answer. Stempel ultimately did as he was instructed, which opened the door for Van Doren to win the game and begin one of the longest and most storied runs of any champion in the history of television game shows.

Van Doren’s popularity soared as a result of his success on Twenty One, earning him a place on the cover of Time magazine and even a regular feature spot on NBC’s Today show; at one point, the program even surpassed CBS’ I Love Lucy in the ratings. He was finally unseated as champion on March 11, 1957, by a woman, Vivienne Nearing, after winning a total of $143,000.

In the meantime Stempel, disgruntled over being ordered to “take a dive,” attempted to blow the whistle on what exactly was going on behind the scenes at Twenty One, even going so far as to have a federal investigator look into the show. Initially, little came of these investigations and Stempel’s accusations were dismissed as jealousy because there was no hard evidence to back up his claims. But by August of 1958 Dotto, a popular CBS daytime game show, was abruptly canceled after a contestant found a notebook containing the answers to every question that was to be asked to Dotto’s current champion, future journalist Marie Winn. Suddenly, Stempel’s allegations began to make more sense. Even so, the public at large didn’t seem to want to accept the dishonesty until Van Doren, under oath before a House hearing, ultimately confessed to being given answers to all of his questions before each show.

Twenty One was canceled without warning after its broadcast of October 17, 1958. A nighttime version of Concentration took over its time slot the following week. The scandal forced producers Barry and Enright into virtual exile. Barry would not host another national TV show for more than a decade, and Enright moved to Canada to continue his production career.

Aftermath

The scandal also caused the Federal Communications Commission to mandate the sale of Barry-Enright’s radio station in Hollywood, Florida, WGMA. The station was purchased by its general manager, C. Edward Little, who promptly affiliated the station with the Mutual Broadcasting System. After serving for a time as the head of Mutual’s affiliates association, Little became the president of Mutual from 1972-1979. During this time Little created the Mutual Black Network, the first U.S. broadcast network catering exclusively to African-Americans, in addition to the Mutual Spanish Network and the Mutual Southwest Network. Under Little’s administration, Mutual became the first commercial broadcasting entity to use satellite technology for program delivery.

During his tenure as head of Mutual, Little hired Larry King to host an all-night phone-in talk show Little had created. King was a one-time announcer for Little at WGMA. King, who had previously hosted a similar morning show on Miami radio station WIOD, went on to national fame on both radio and television, winning a coveted Peabody Award along the way. King, therefore, indirectly owes a portion of his success to the quiz-show scandals.

Barry finally returned to game-show hosting in 1969, succeeding Dennis Wholey on ABC’s The Generation Gap for which he publicly thanked the producers and ABC-TV for giving him a chance for a comeback. In 1971, he sold ABC his first new game show The Reel Game which he also hosted. It ran for 13 weeks. He became a success again as a producer-host with The Joker’s Wild, which ran on CBS from 1972–1975 and in syndication from 1977-1986 (Barry died in June 1984 and was replaced by Bill Cullen for the final two years). Enright would work as Joker’s executive producer in the final year on CBS, and the two revived their partnership full-time in 1976, reviving Tic-Tac-Dough which also ran until 1986. It was revived once more in 1990, but was cancelled after a few months. Enright died in 1992. …”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiz_show_scandals

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