This Day in Business History: Charles Van Doren testifies in Congress about TV game show fixing

Nov 2, 1959:  Charles Van Doren admitted to a House subcommittee that he was provided advance knowledge of the questions and answers he would receive on the TV gameshow “Twenty One.” These shows had become popular in the 1950s after the US Supreme Court ruled in Federal Communications Commission v. American Broadcasting Co., Inc. that such quiz shows were not gambling. Unfortunately, to keep the audience engaged, many such games shows on the air were alleged, and later found to be, fixed behind the scenes.

Partly due to Van Doren’s testimony, Congress added fixing quiz shows to the prohibited acts in the Communications Act of 1934.  The quiz show scandals led to a decline in viewership until the late 1990s when quiz shows added larger jackpots and rose in popularity again.  Who Wants to Be a Millionaire led the rankings allowing ABC to increase their advertising rates along with the growing success of the broadcast.

Read more from our collection:

The Quiz Show, by Su Holmes
PN1992.8 .Q5 H65 2008






The Big Question, by Chuck Barris
PS3552 .A78554 B54 2007






The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows, by David Schwartz, Steve Ryan, and Fred Wostbrock
PN1992.8 .Q5 S38 1995