||Cable News Network (CNN) initiates an associated channel, dubbed CNN2, that features a round-the-clock "news wheel" format. The channel would be renamed CNN Headline News a year later and is now known as HLN.
|The National Association of Broadcasters ends its long-standing Television Code in response to a Washington, D.C. circuit court ruling which declared parts of it unconstitutional.
||American Playhouse on PBS member station WNET/Newark, New Jersey presents John Cheever's teleplay The Shady Hill Kidnapping, featuring George Grizzard, Polly Holliday, Judith Ivey, E. Katherine Kerr and Celeste Holm as The Celebrity.
||Bryant Gumbel begins his 15-year stint as co-anchor of NBC's Today Show.
|ABC broadcasts a TV adaptation of The Elephant Man, with Philip Anglim and Kevin Conway reprising the roles they originated for the Broadway version of the story.
|In Panama City, Florida, NBC affiliate WMBB swaps affiliations with ABC affiliate WJHG-TV.
||CBS Reports broadcasts The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception, a documentary alleging a manipulation of intelligence estimates before the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Retired Gen. William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. military operations at the time of the alleged estimates, would file a libel suit against CBS believing the report described him unfairly.
||Late Night with David Letterman debuts on NBC; Letterman's first guests are Bill Murray (who dances around to the songs "Physical") and "Mr. Wizard" Don Herbert.
|Two months after new owners Pacific Media Corporation changed its call letters from KECC-TV, CBS affiliate KECY-TV in Yuma, Arizona leaves the network to join ABC. This will leave Yuma without a CBS affiliate for 3 years, until KECY-TV rejoins the network in 1988 (it is now a Fox affiliate).
||Singer Jermaine Jackson guest-features as Tootie, gets to meet the person she admires on a very special episode of the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life.
||The crime drama spoof Police Squad! premieres on ABC; though it only lasts 6 episodes (the last being broadcast July 8); the comedy would serve as the origin of the Frank Drebin character and the inspiration for the Naked Gun movie series.
||Night of 100 Stars, a benefit for the Actors' Fund taped at Radio City Music Hall, is broadcast by ABC.
||The soap opera series Search for Tomorrow is broadcast for the final time by CBS; NBC immediately purchases it and begins broadcasting it March 29.
||John Chancellor anchors the NBC Nightly News for the final time, replaced on April 5 by the team of Roger Mudd and Tom Brokaw, a partnership that lasts 17 months.
||Norman Lear purchases Avco Embassy Pictures and rechristens his TAT Communications Company as Embassy Television.
|WGXA in Macon, Georgia signs-on the air, giving the Macon market its first full-time ABC affiliate.
||The Weather Channel is begun in the U.S.
||At about 5:00 pm, Joseph Billie Gwin, wanting to "prevent World War III", forces his way into the studios of Phoenix CBS affiliate KOOL-TV, fires a gunshot, takes 4 people hostage (holding one of them, cameraman Louis Villa, at close gunpoint), and demands national broadcasting time. Three hours later, Gwin releases 2 hostages, Jack Webb and Bob Cimino. At 9:30 pm, with Gwin sitting next to him with a gun, KOOL anchor Bill Close reads a 20-minute statement; when finished, Close takes Gwin's gun and sets it on the table.
||Professional wrestler Jerry Lawler slaps actor Andy Kaufman in the face on the program Late Night with David Letterman; Kaufman responds by throwing coffee and shouting profanities at Lawler. The incident was later revealed to have been staged.
||After Tom Wopat and John Schneider quit the CBS action series The Dukes of Hazzard as a result of a contract dispute, their characters, Bo and Luke Duke, are written out of the series as joining a NASCAR team and are replaced by cousins Coy and Vance (played respectively by Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer). Bo and Luke—and Wopat and Schneider—would return to the series by season's end.
||NBC resurrects Texaco Star Theater as a one-time special; however, instead of inviting Milton Berle, the man who hosted the original series during the 1950s, the special presents a salute to musicals.
||Mary Hart joins Entertainment Tonight as reporter and later co-host; the latter role she had until 2011.
||Future Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus begins a 3-year stint (1982–1985) as a featured player/regular cast member of NBC's Saturday Night Live.
||KDOC-TV commences broadcasting in Los Angeles.
||Mary Jo Catlett replaces Nedra Volz on the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, as the new housekeeper, Mrs. Pearl Gallagher, from 1982 until the series ending during 1986.
||KMTR signs-on in Eugene, Oregon as a NBC affiliate. Due to NBC's persistent low ratings, the network's former affiliate KVAL-TV had been preempting NBC programming (with increasing regularity) in favor of programs from CBS (shared with ABC affiliate KEZI), forcing a frustrated NBC to seek a new station. With the move, KVAL-TV becomes a full-time CBS affiliate.
||Susan Stafford departs as co-host of the NBC game show Wheel of Fortune to do humanitarian work. Auditions occur for who will replace her, with Vanna White formally replacing Stafford on December 13; White continues on Wheel to this day.
||ESPN broadcasts its first live college football game, simulcasting the Independence Bowl match-up between Kansas State University and the University of Wisconsin.
||Nastassja Kinski makes a puzzling appearance on the program Late Night with David Letterman, seeming somewhat oblivious to the jokes and everything else that was going on around her and appearing with an unusual hair style Letterman describes as "looking like there was an owl perched on top of her head." (Letterman's second guest, John Candy, comes out with his own hair moussed up in a pile as a spoof of Kinski's hair.)
|Surround Sound is introduced for home use by Dolby.
||Actor (The Secret Life of the American Teenager)
||Actress (Supernatural, The Walking Dead)
||Actress (Full House, Fuller House)
||Actress (Legend of the Seeker, Jane the Virgin, Agent Carter)
||Actor (The Adventures of Pete & Pete)
||Actress (7th Heaven)
||Canadian actor (Silicon Valley, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero)
||Voice actor (SwaySway on Breadwinners)
||Actress (The Outer Limits)
||James Napier Robertson
||New Zealand actor (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
||Actor (Life as We Know It, Pretty Little Liars)
||Actor (Veronica Mars)
||Actress (How I Met Your Mother)
||Actress (Grey's Anatomy, "Supergirl")
||Canadian actor (Saturday Night Live)
||Singer and actress (American Idol)
||Canadian-American actor (Glory Daze)
||Actress (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
||Actress (American Dreams, Witches of East End)
||Actor (Glee) (d. 2013)
||Actress (Family Guy)
||Actress (American Horror Story)
||Actress (Related, The Class, Party Down, Masters of Sex)
||Actress (One Tree Hill)
||Actor (Adventure Time)
||Actress (One Tree Hill, Chicago PD)
||Actor (Gilmore Girls, Supernatural)
||Actor (American Dreams, The Vampire Diaries)
||Actress (True Blood)
||Actor (d. 2008)
||Actress (Headland, Chuck)
||Actress (Six Degrees, Parenthood)
||Voice actor (Numbuh 1 on Codename: Kids Next Door)
||Voice actor (Mordecai on Regular Show)
||Actress (The Mindy Project)
||Actor (South of Nowhere)
||Actress (Party of Five, The Wild Thornberrys)
||Erik von Detten
||Actor (So Weird, Complete Savages)
||Brandon Jay McLaren
||Canadian actor (Power Rangers S.P.D.)
||Voice actor ("Arnold" from Hey Arnold! in 1996–97)
||Actress (Get Real)
||Actress (Are You Afraid of the Dark?, 24, Happy Endings)
||George O. Gore II
||Actor (New York Undercover, My Wife and Kids)
||Actress (Beauty & the Beast)