Quiz show scandals - where was the crime?

From what I remember, television was such a powerful, new force that people weren’t used to it. All of a sudden, you had moving pictures and sounds right in your living room. It took some time in getting used to what was real and what isn’t. Maybe today we still aren’t completely used to it.

“The Payola scandal reaches a new level of public prominence and legal gravity (Feb. 11) in 1960, when President Eisenhower called it an issue of public morality and the FCC proposed a new law making involvement in Payola a criminal act.”


There is social value in mass media being seen as authoritative, not as lying propaganda full of hidden payoffs. This applies to ads, news, serious shows, and frivolous shows. If media is the public’s window onto the world, it’s a Good Thing for it to be basically a clear and honest window.

The present situation with Faux News, fake news, social media echo chambers, etc., ought to make it very, very obvious what happens when media descends to the lowest level of “anything’s good; we just want eyeballs”.

The 1950s was a more innocent time. But it was also a more regulated and civic-virtue oriented time. For white male mainstream definitions of “civic” and “virtue”.

Those are likely state laws - most likely California’s, though perhaps you taped somewhere else.

My memory is that there were not explicit laws (as has been stated above) about contests on TV until after the scandal. However, there were laws about contests/sweepstake in the newspaper, magazines, and I think on radio.

Edited in CA, recorded in various. May have been a CA state law, or maybe federal laws were followed from an abundance of caution. Wish I knew now; that part of things was never relevant to me.