60 Minutes (US)

Current Events, Interview, Politics

60 Minutes is an investigative television newsmagazine on United States television, which has run on CBS News since 1968. The program was created by long time producer Don Hewitt who set it apart by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation. It has been the top-rated program for much of its life, and has garnered numerous awards over the years. It is considered by many to be the preminent investigative television program in the United States. The initial run of 60 Minutes was as a bi-weekly show hosted by Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace which debuted on CBS on September 24, 1968. Don Hewitt, who had been a producer of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, sought out Wallac Read Moree as a contrast to Harry Reasoner. According to one historian of the show, the idea of the format was to make the hosts the reporters, to always feature stories that were of national import but focused upon individuals in conflict with those issues, and to keep the reports to around thirteen minutes. However, the initial season was troubled by lack of network confidence. In 1970, the FCC instituted a rule stipulating that local network affiliates produce their own content for half an hour on weeknights and one hour of prime time on Sunday. Because affiliates found the costs for these productions high and the advertising rates low, the FCC created an exception for network-authored news and public affairs, and this ensured a place for 60 Minutes on Sunday night, as well as a duration for it. Morley Safer replaced Harry Reasoner in 1969, and he took over the task of reporting less aggressive stories. However, when Richard Nixon began targeting press access and reporting, even Safer began to do “hard” investigative reports, and in 1970 alone 60 Minutes reported on cluster bombs, the South Vietnamese Army, Canada’s amnesty for American draft dodgers, Nigeria, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland. 1970 also saw the introduction of “Point/Counterpoint,” with James J. Kilpatrick and, eventually, Shana Alexander, a three minute debate between spokespeople for the political right and left, respectively. This segment pioneered a format that would later be adapted by CNN for its Crossfire show. By 1975, it was the top-rated show on Sunday nights in the United States (its original time slot had been on Tuesday nights). By 1982, it was one of the highest rated shows overall. Its advertising rates went from $17,000 per thirty seconds in 1975 to $175,000 in 1982. In 1979, Channel 9 in Australia licensed a spin-off of 60 Minutes, complete with ticking clock and format and, later, New Zealand followed suit with its own 60 Minutes. At 87 years old, Mike Wallace is not only the oldest television personality today (tied with Helen Wagner), but one who has lasted the longest with one news show continuously, having been a part of 60 Minutes since its inception in 1968. On March 14, 2006, Wallace announced his retirement from 60 Minutes after 37 years with the program. He will continue working for CBS News as a “Correspondent Emeritus.” As of 2005, it is the only regularly scheduled television program without any type of theme music. The only theme sound is from the signature TAG Heuer stopwatch in the opening title credit.
Network: CBS
Country: US
First Airdate: Sep/24/1968

Episode Listing
Season 47 47
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