The 1960–61 United States network television schedule was for the period that began in September 1960 and ran through March 1961.
On May 9, 1961, at the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters new FCC chairman Newton Minow delivered a scathing speech directed at the "procession of game shows, violence, audience participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, Western badmen, Western goodmen, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons, and, endlessly, commercials, many screaming, cajoling, and offending, and, most of all, boredom [...] Is there one network president in this room who claims he can't do better?" Minow called TV a "vast wasteland"; the phrase was picked up by the press and resulted in bad publicity for the networks and for the television industry as a whole. According to television historians Castleman and Podrazik (1982), the networks were in a bind, though: they had already purchased their fall 1961 programs and had locked in their 1961-62 schedules. "The best the networks could do was slot a few more public affairs shows, paint rosy pictures for 1962-63, and prepare to endure the barrage of criticism they felt certain would greet the new season."
New fall series are highlighted in bold. All times are Eastern and Pacific. The highest-rated show for the year is colored in gold, the second-highest appears in silver, and the third-highest in bronze. Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its (rank/rating) as determined by Nielsen Media Research.
Note: On NBC, The Campaign and the Candidates aired as an interim series, 9:30–10:30 p.m., from mid-September to early November.
↑ 1.01.1Castleman, Harry; Walter J. Podrazik (1982). Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 139–146. ISBN0-07-010269-4.
↑Highest-rated series is based on the annual top-rated programs list compiled by Nielsen Media Research and reported in: Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.