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For all practical purposes, TV came of age in 1948.
That year Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle brought scores of celebrities and overwhelming popular interest to the new medium.
Federal regulations concerned such matters as the licensing of stations, the strength of broadcast signals, the number of stations allowed in a single geographic area, the hours during which stations were permitted to broadcast, and the community standards that stations were expected to respect.
In this way, the federal role was to ensure that commercial rivalries between stations did not harm the industry, and that listener sensitivities were not offended by rude, immoral, or illegal programming.
That year television entered the homes of average people as manufacturers produced 975,000 sets, an increase of 689 percent over the output for 19 combined.
On the four networks in 1948—NBC, CBS, ABC, and Du Mont —viewers found more programming and in a wider variety.
Unlike the heavily controlled state systems created in Europe and elsewhere, broadcasting in the United States was primarily self-regulating.
There were government rules that stations respected, but for the most part the standards and practices of American radio were products of broadcasters themselves. It created and administered ground rules intended to benefit both industry and citizenry.
With the end of World War II, almost three decades of development had prepared television for popular acceptance.
From the beginning, however, the federal government was involved as a producer of programs.