|Dan Weisman |||Oct 10, 2014 11:00 PM EDT|
(Photo : HANNA-BARBERA, Warner Home Video/Reuters, PRNewsFoto/Nickelodeon) The Jetsons, Scooby Doo, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Don't look now, but last weekend was the first in more than 50 years with no children's cartoons on Saturday network television in the U.S.
No more "Sonic X," "Jetsons," "Yu-Gi-Oh!," "Scooby Doo," "Cubix," "The Smurfs" and "Digimon Fusion." Just a series of questionably educational programs networks are mandated to air by the Communications Commission.
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The lowest rated U.S. TV network, the CW Network, was the last to give up the Saturday morning cartoon ghost, and we're not just talking Casper, although that friendly ghost once was featured in Saturday morning kids cartoon shows.
The CW pulled the plug on Saturday morning kids cartoons shows last weekend ending its cartoon bloc called "The Vortex. A new five-hour bloc called "One Magnificent Morning" now airs without cartoons as it directs content to teens and families.
ABC and Fox ditched the cartoons 10 years ago. CBS, the home of Captain Kangaroo, got rid of the shows in 1997 with the end of CBS Toontastic, otherwise known as CBS Kidz.
NBC, land of Howdy Doody led the charge out of Saturday cartoons in 1992 going out of the morning cartoon biz with its last airing of "The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show."
Saturday morning kids cartoon show use to be a network TV staple. The advent of cable and satellite TV and proliferation of channels, including several devoted to animated cartoons and related programming, eroded the cartoon hold on Saturday morning.
So, too, did online streaming and the host of modern entertainment options and direct-to-kids audio-video marketing. Kids, and the advertisers who seek them, can go to Hulu, Netflix and the Cartoon and Disney networks among dozens of options.
The U.S. Congress passed the Children's Television Act of 1990 that had the unintended consequence of erasing animated programming from Saturday morning viewing. It limited the amount and types of advertising allowed on kids shows making them less attractive to networks.
The final nail in the Saturday kids cartoon programming coffin were FCC rules calling for at least three hours of educational programming weekly on network TV stations.
Ever seeking the big bang of a buck, networks turned the less visible and less watched Saturday morning block of programming into what passes for educational programming. Or at least what passes FCC muster as such.
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