The "rural purge
" of American television networks (in particular CBS
) was a series of cancellations between 1969 and 1972, the majority of which occurred at the end of the 1970-71 television season, of still popular rural-themed shows and shows with demographically-skewed audiences. It is commonly referred to as "the year CBS
killed everything with a tree in it," a phrase coined by Pat Buttram
, who played Mr. Haney on CBS's Green Acres
The purge was instigated by CBS executive Fred Silverman
in the late 1960s, following research highlighting the greater attraction to advertisers of the younger urban viewer demographic and the institution of the FCC's Prime Time Access Rule
, which led to the loss of a half-hour of network programming each night. While it is most commonly associated with CBS
also followed a similar pattern. The numerous cancellations prompted Pat Buttram
("Mr. Haney" on one of the canceled shows, Green Acres
) to make the oft-quoted observation: "It was the year CBS canceled everything with a tree—including Lassie
actually survived the initial rural purge, but its time slot (Sunday, 7 p.m.) was changed due to the access rule, and the show was canceled in 1973.
The first rurally-themed show canceled by Silverman was Petticoat Junction
. In September, 1970 The Mary Tyler Moore Show
premiered on CBS. All in the......