If you watch old movies or study film history, you may know that early 20th-century Hollywood operated under the Motion Picture Production Code, which dictated what could and couldn’t be portrayed onscreen. But did you know that television had a code of its own? Its story has never been told at length until now.
Deborah Jaramillo, Associate Professor of Film and Television at Boston University, is the author of a new book called The Television Code: Regulating the Screen to Safeguard the Industry (University of Texas Press, 2018). Jaramillo tells the story of a young television industry’s attempt to police itself on controversial questions about content, fending off pressure from government regulators and finicky viewers. Jaramillo explores whether the federal government could have played a stronger role at this formative time in the industry, and what the code did and didn’t accomplish in its three decades of existence.