Abstract: The Uneasy Underwriters: Advertisers and American Television, 1946–1956

James L. Baughman


Through the 1950s, advertisers held the upper hand in ways that deeply affected the newest medium. At first, the reluctance of most advertisers to enter television, or limit their purchases of TV time cheapened much programming. Even when, in the mid-1950s, television became the dominant mass medium, advertisers retained great leverage, despite efforts by the networks, notably NBC, to control the terms of trade. Most mass advertisers did begin buying significant amounts of TV time, yet only on the condition that their brands be protected. Brand protection, in turn, had all sorts of consequences, comic and tragic, for the young medium.