By the mid-to-late 1970s, viewers tired of socially responsible sitcoms. Former CBS head of programming Fred Silverman defected to struggling ABC started the trend of TV centered on sexual gratification and bawdy humor and situations, nicknamed “jiggle television.” Jiggle TV shows included the crime-fighting television series Charlie’s Angels, which starred up-and-coming sex symbols Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson and the risqué sitcom such as Three’s Company, modeled after the British series Man About the House, in which swinging single-man Robin Trip pretended to be gay in order to live in an apartment with two single women. Mildly controversial at the time, the show quickly became a Top Ten hit in the ratings.
The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on July 1, 1971, lowering the voting age for all federal and state elections from 21 years to 18 years. The primary impetus for this change was the fact that young men were being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War before they were old enough to vote.
Oscar winners of the decade were Patton (1970), The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972), The Sting (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Rocky (1976), Annie Hall (1977), The Deer Hunter (1978), and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
In 1978 Dallas paves the way for the return of prime time soaps in the United States. Abarembo Shogun begins 25-year run in Japan. Grange Hill premieres on BBC1 in the United Kingdom.
In 1974 Happy Days premieres on ABC. Monty Python’s Flying Circus ends in the UK, and comes to American TV audiences for the first time. Australian TV tests color transmissions (full-time color comes in ’75.)
In 1976 Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America and Wheel of Fortune premiere; Sony introduces the Betamax, a home video tape recorder; Fawlty Towers premieres in Britain on BBC2.
In 1979 43 million viewers watch Elvis! on ABC. All-sports cable channel ESPN is launched. The Pinwheel Channel changes its name to Nickelodeon. A technician’s strike forces ITV off air for eleven weeks (except in the Channel Islands) while BBC2 launches the first computer generated ident in the world.
In 1976 South Africa has television service for the first time; Family Feud premieres on ABC; UK punk group the Sex Pistols cause controversy and outrage by swearing on Today; a Thames Television regional early evening show.
In 1972 M*A*S*H and Bob Barker’s The Price Is Right debut; Home Box Office becomes first pay-TV channel. Emmerdale Farm (now just called Emmerdale) premieres on ITV in the UK.
On November 28, 1979, Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed on the flanks of Mount Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 people on board.