Toddlers' Truce
The Toddler
A toddler is a young child, usually defined as being between the ages of one and three. Registered nurse, midwife and author, Robin Barker, states 'Any time from eight months onwards your baby will begin to realise he is a separate person from you...

s' Truce
was a piece of early British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 television scheduling policy that required transmissions to terminate for an hour each weekday between 6pm and 7pm. This was from the end of Children's TV to the start of the evening schedule, so that young children could be put to bed.


It may have originated when the BBC resumed television after the end of the war in 1946. The policy remained fairly uncontroversial until ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 began transmission in 1955. At that time the Truce was accepted as policy by the Postmaster General
United Kingdom Postmaster General
The Postmaster General of the United Kingdom is a defunct Cabinet-level ministerial position in HM Government. Aside from maintaining the postal system, the Telegraph Act of 1868 established the Postmaster General's right to exclusively maintain electric telegraphs...

, Earl De La Warr
Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr
Herbrand Edward Dundonald Brassey Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr, GBE, PC, DL, JP , styled Lord Buckhurst until 1915 , was a British politician. He was the first hereditary peer to join the Labour Party and became a government minister at the age of 23...

, in the interests of smoothing relations between ITV and the fledgling ITA
Independent Television Authority
The Independent Television Authority was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" , the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom...

. The problem became apparent in 1956 when the ITV franchise-holders under the ITA's jurisdiction were struggling to stay in business. As the BBC was (and still is) funded by a TV licence
Television licence
A television licence is an official licence required in many countries for the reception of television broadcasts...

 fee, its budget was not related to the number of hours of transmission. Indeed the Truce saved them money. ITV, on the other hand, was funded entirely by advertising and the Truce caused a loss of revenue in the hour's closedown. Supporters of ITV, which had faced strong political opposition, argued that the Truce had little to do with social responsibility and was simply a way to give the BBC an unfair advantage.


The ITA had encouraged the ITV companies (Granada
Granada Television
Granada Television is the ITV contractor for North West England. Based in Manchester since its inception, it is the only surviving original ITA franchisee from 1954 and is ITV's most successful....

, ABC Television
Associated British Corporation
Associated British Corporation was one of a number of commercial television companies established in the United Kingdom during the 1950s by cinema chain companies in an attempt to safeguard their business by becoming involved with television which was taking away their cinema audiences.In this...

Associated TeleVision
Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

 and Associated-Rediffusion
Associated-Rediffusion, later Rediffusion, London, was the British ITV contractor for London and parts of the surrounding counties, on weekdays between 1954 and 29 July 1968. Transmissions started on 22 September 1955.-Formation:...

) to seek abolition of the Truce. Action was taken finally in July 1956, probably the result of a lack of effective cooperation between the companies rather than political objection. The Postmaster General, Charles Hill
Charles Hill, Baron Hill of Luton
Charles Hill, Baron Hill of Luton PC was a British administrator, doctor and television executive.Charles Hill was born in Islington, London and was educated at St Olave's Grammar School in Southwark, London. He won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge where he gained a first class degree...

, had disliked the policy as an example of the BBC's paternalism toward its audience:

This restriction seemed to me absurd and I said so. It was the responsibility of parents, not the state, to put their children to bed at the right time... I invited the BBC and the ITA to agree to its abolition[...]

The BBC could not, however, be persuaded to accept the abolition or even to a compromise of reducing the period to 30 minutes. Hill tired of the disagreement and asked Parliament for the abolition which was agreed on 31 October 1956. However, the BBC and ITA could not even agree a date for the abolition to take place. Hill decided on Saturday, 16 February 1957.

Subsequent use of the time

The BBC filled the hour with a music programme, Six-Five Special
Six-Five Special
The Six-Five Special is a British television programme launched in February 1957 when both television and rock and roll were in their infancy in Britain.-Description:...

, from the first Saturday and with the Tonight
Tonight (1957 TV series)
Tonight was a BBC television current affairs programme presented by Cliff Michelmore and broadcast in Britain live on weekday evenings from February 1957 to 1965. The producers were the future Controller of BBC1 Donald Baverstock and the future Director-General of the BBC Alasdair Milne...

news magazine from Monday to Friday. The BBC however continued to close from 6.15-7.00pm on Sundays, the time of evening church services, until Songs of Praise
Songs of Praise
Songs of Praise is a BBC Television programme based around traditional Christian hymns. It is a widely watched and long-running religious television programme, one of the few peak-time free-to-air religious programmes in Europe Songs of Praise is a BBC Television programme based around traditional...

was launched on 1 October 1961. Until 1992 this time on Sundays was used for religious programmes on BBC1 and ITV. The 6-7pm slot has since then been devoted to news, especially regional news, in the weekday schedules of both BBC1 and ITV, though Crossroads was also shown in this period in most ITV regions.
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