Toddler’s Truce: Why The British Couldn't Watch TV at 6PM During World War II

In 1946, right after the end of World War II, BBC’s television scheduling came up with the “Toddler’s Truce” — at 6 p.m. every day, the television would cease broadcasting. The next hour would be frantic, with parents scooping their kids off the couch, getting them to brush their teeth and take a bath, changing them into their pajamas, and tucking them into bed……just in time for the evening programs to begin. This one-hour break made it easier for parents to peel their kids from the screen and get them off to bed. So, why would a broadcaster care whether parents were able to drag their children away from the television? It’s because the BBC, which was the only broadcaster at the time, prided itself on social responsibilities. They produced a handful of programs for children, each designed to aid the child’s development within the harmonious environment of the family home. At first, their new policy didn’t cause much fuss. Viewers weren’t used to 24 hours of television programming, and the BBC only broadcasted for a limited number of hours each day, with no broadcasting at all overnight. So, an extra hour of no television wasn’t much of an issue. However, in 1955 problems arose with the launch of the first commercial television channel, ITV. Because it was funded through advertising, an hour with no broadcasting meant the loss of an hour’s worth of revenue. As a result, in February 1957, the 6 p.m. time slot was filled with Tonight, a news magazine, and the Toddler’s Truce came to an end.