1996 in American television

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The following is a list of events affecting American television during 1996. Events listed include television show debuts, finales, cancellations, and channel initiations, closures and rebrandings, as well as information about controversies and disputes.

Events[edit]

Date Event
January 1 Speedvision, a cable channel devoted to motor sports, commences programming. The network would be rechristened Speed Channel in 2002, then Speed in 2005. It would be replaced by Fox Sports 1 in 2013.
January 20 Fox introduces its FoxTrax "glowing puck" during its telecast of the 46th National Hockey League All-Star Game.
January 28 Chris Isaak and Brooke Shields make guest appearances on a post-Super Bowl episode of Friends.
March 1 More than 1 billion households worldwide now own television sets.
March 4 DISH Network, a Direct Broadcast Satellite service, begins as a service of EchoStar.
April 29 TV Land, an offshoot of the series Nick at Nite devoted to round-the-clock broadcasts of classic television shows, debuts.
May 16 More than 12 million Americans watch the final episode of Murder, She Wrote on CBS, "Death By Demographics". Through its 12-year run, the series had become the longest-running American Murder Mystery Drama.
May 19 Sundance Channel debuts.
June 1 Major League Baseball broadcasts debut on Fox.
June 3 Zenith introduces the first HDTV-compatible front projection TV in the U.S.
June 19 WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC is awarded the first experimental high-definition television license in the United States.
June 30 New York PBS member station WNYC-TV shuts off the air and it was replaced with a commercially operated sports TV station known as WBIS.
July 6 When it becomes evident that Anna Stuart will be next to die in a serial killer storyline on Another World, many fans start letter-writing campaigns to save the actress; the NBC studios in New York City also report a great number of switchboard telephone calls regarding Stuart's imminent demise. Executive producer Jill Farren Phelps decides that actress Alice Barrett will be killed off the show instead.
New World Communications sells its 2 remaining non-Fox affiliates, KNSD-TV (channel 39) in San Diego, California and WVTM-TV (channel 13) in Birmingham, Alabama, both of whom are affiliated with NBC, to the NBC Television Stations Division. Upon the finalization of the deal on August 14, both stations become NBC owned-and-operated stations (WVTM would eventually be sold to Media General in 2006; Hearst Television would acquire WVTM in 2015).
July 15 Talk-oriented America's Talking ceases broadcasting and is replaced by MSNBC, an all-news joint venture between NBC (AT's owner) and Microsoft.
August 2 MTV's secondary channel, M2 (now known as MTV2), debuts.
August 23 The Price Is Right celebrates its 25th Anniversary Special on CBS.
September 8 The 48th Primetime Emmy Awards are presented on ABC.
The 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment continues when longtime ABC affiliate WBRC-TV (channel 6) in Birmingham, Alabama finally becomes a Fox owned-and-operated station, a year after Fox had acquired it (and WGHP-TV in High Point, North Carolina) from a trust that had been formed by New World Communications. ABC eventually affiliates with a trimulcast of WBMA-LP/WCFT/WJSU (channels 58, 33 and 40), which is owned by Allbritton Communications (owners of WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., one of ABC's strongest affiliates). Former Fox affiliate WTTO-TV (channel 21) becomes an independent station before affiliating with The WB the next year, while another former Fox affiliate, WNAL in Gadsden, Alabama, aligns with CBS.
September 13 The dubbed version of the Japanese series Dragon Ball Z premieres in the U.S.
September 15 USA Cartoon Express airs for the last time on USA Network.
September 16 The Jackpot wedge debuts on Wheel of Fortune.
September 17 The O.J. Simpson civil trial begins.
October 1 Animal Planet and Discovery Civilization launched.
October 2 Seven newscasters were dismissed by WCBS-TV (channel 2) in New York.
October 4 Discovery Science debuts.
October 7 News Corporation gets into the cable news fray with the debut of the Fox News Channel.
November 1 ESPNNEWS, a sports news channel from ESPN, debuts.
November 2 The original cartoon series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles broadcasts its final episode, "Divide and Conquer", on CBS.
November 11 Discovery Kids debuts.
December 1 The 25 Days of Christmas Special begins on The Family Channel, starting one of the longest running Christmas Specials.
December 12 Sports Illustrated and CNN debut CNN/SI, a 24-hour sporting news channel.
December 15 Five years after its series finale, a movie version of Dallas, entitled Dallas: J.R. Returns, is broadcast by CBS.
December 17 6 years after dropping the title, TBS resumes using the term Superstation.
December 31 WAKR-TV in Akron, Ohio disaffiliates from ABC and becomes an infomercial-based station before becoming a charter O&O of station owner Paxson Communications' new Pax TV network in 1998.

Television programs[edit]

Programs debuting during 1996[edit]

Date Show Network
January 6 Campus Cops USA Network
January 9 3rd Rock from the Sun NBC
January 21 Savannah The WB
January 22 Bzzz! Syndication
January 23 Moesha Fox
January 24 Tracey Takes On...
January 28 Katie and Orbie PTV
February 6 Street Signs CNBC
C Bear and Jamal Fox Kids
February 20 VH1 Storytellers VH1
February 27 The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper Fox Kids
March 1 Gold Fever Outdoor Channel
March 2 Pacific Blue USA Network
Space Cases Nickelodeon
March 8 Muppets Tonight ABC
March 16 The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo Nickelodeon
March 20 The Sentinel UPN
March 29 Nash Bridges CBS
April 8 Profit Fox
April 20 Power Rangers Zeo Fox Kids
April 21 Forensic Files TLC
Poltergeist: The Legacy Showtime
April 28 Dexter's Laboratory Cartoon Network
Fox News Sunday Fox
May 13 Buzzkill MTV
June 1 The American Athlete ABC
June 2 Big Bag Cartoon Network
June 3 Debt Lifetime
Kratts' Creatures PTV
June 10 Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends ABC
The Rosie O'Donnell Show NBC
A Wedding Story TLC
July 15 Kenan & Kel Nickelodeon
The News with Brian Williams MSNBC
The Site
Time and Again
July 22 The Daily Show Comedy Central
August 10 Arliss HBO
August 11 The Big Easy USA Network
August 25 The Steve Harvey Show The WB
August 26 7th Heaven
Goode Behavior UPN
In The House
Malcolm & Eddie
Sparks
August 27 Homeboys in Outer Space
August 28 The Jamie Foxx Show The WB
Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher
August 31 Women: Stories of Passion Showtime
September 1 Power Lunch CNBC
Big Deal Fox
September 2 Adventures from the Book of Virtues PTV
Arthur
September 3 The Burning Zone UPN
Imus in the Morning MSNBC
Quack Pack UPN Kids
September 6 Dragon Flyz Syndication
The Mighty Ducks ABC
Superman: The Animated Series Kids' WB
September 7 Road Rovers
Big Bad Beetleborgs Fox Kids
September 8 Blue's Clues Nick Jr.
Bureau of Alien Detectors UPN Kids
The Incredible Hulk
Jumanji
The Mouse and the Monster
Fox After Breakfast Fox
September 9 Lush Life
Party Girl
Grill Me USA Network
Access Hollywood NBC
The Cape Syndication
Real TV
September 13 Dragon Ball Z UPN Kids
Everybody Loves Raymond CBS
September 14 Bailey Kipper's P.O.V. CBS Kidz
Project G.e.e.K.e.R.
Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House
September 16 Beast Wars: Transformers UPN Kids
Judge Judy CBS
Cosby
Pearl
September 17 Promised Land
Spin City ABC
September 18 Townies
Men Behaving Badly NBC
September 19 The Pretender
Suddenly Susan
Moloney CBS
September 20 Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Clueless ABC
September 21 Dark Skies NBC
WWF LiveWire USA Network
September 24 Relativity ABC
September 27 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
September 28 Early Edition CBS
September 29 Profiler NBC
September 30 Pappyland TLC
Shopping Spree The Family Channel
Small Talk
Wait 'til You Have Kids
Dangerous Minds ABC
October 5 Jungle Cubs
October 7 Fox News Now Fox News Channel
Hannity & Colmes
The O'Reilly Factor
Your World with Neil Cavuto
Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? PTV
Theodore Tugboat
Tots TV
Hey Arnold! Nickelodeon
October 11 KaBlam!
October 12 The RuPaul Show VH1
October 13 The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss Nickelodeon
October 19 Waynehead Kids' WB
October 21 Ink CBS
October 25 Millennium Fox
Remember This? MSNBC
October 27 Pop-Up Video VH1
EZ Streets CBS
October 30 Public Morals
December 9 Idiot Savants MTV
December 24 Edgewise MSNBC
December 28 E! True Hollywood Story E!
For Your Home PBS
Gardening by the Yard HGTV
Naughty Amateur Home Videos Playboy TV

Programs resuming during 1996[edit]

Show Last Aired Previous Network Retitled as New Network Returned
Doug 1994 Nickelodeon Disney's Doug ABC September 7
Shop 'til You Drop Lifetime The New Shop 'til You Drop The Family Channel September 30

Programs ending during 1996[edit]

Date Show Debut
January 9 Live Shot 1995
January 11 The Commish 1991
January 14 Global Guts 1992
February 3 Are You Afraid of the Dark? (returned in 1999) 1991
Dumb and Dumber 1995
February 17 Maybe This Time
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 1993
February 21 VR Troopers 1994
February 23 Strange Luck 1995
February 24 Biker Mice From Mars 1993
Iron Man 1994
February 26 High Society 1995
March 1 The Head 1994
March 7 The Mickey Mouse Club 1955
March 27 Dream On 1990
March 29 The Pink Panther 1993
George & Alana 1995
April 1 Partners
May 1 Allegra's Window 1994
May 4 Sisters 1991
May 11 Captain Planet and the Planeteers 1990
May 19 Murder, She Wrote 1984
May 20 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 1990
Nowhere Man 1995
June 2 Space: Above and Beyond
June 9 seaQuest DSV 1993
June 19 Hudson Street 1995
June 26 Picket Fences 1992
June 28 Central Park West 1995
July 11 American Gothic
July 19 Tales from the Crypt 1989
August 8 Kratts' Creatures 1996
August 16 The Client 1995
August 27 Rescue 911 1989
September 15 USA Cartoon Express 1982
September 30 Lush Life 1996
Party Girl
October 6 Big Deal
October 30 Public Morals
The John Larroquette Show 1993
November 2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987
November 24 Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog 1993
Rocko's Modern Life
The Tick 1994
November 27 Power Rangers Zeo 1996
November 28 Quack Pack
December 4 Townies
Rugrats (returned in 1997) 1991
December 6 Mr. & Mrs. Smith 1996
December 13 Earthworm Jim 1995
December 14 California Dreams 1992
December 24 Roundhouse
December 28 The Adventures of Pete & Pete 1993

Made for TV movies and miniseries[edit]

Premiere Date Title Channel
April 9 Face of Evil CBS
April 28 The Beast NBC
May 14 Doctor Who Fox
September 24 After Jimmy CBS
November 15 Dallas: J.R. Returns
November 17 Titanic

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Show Moved from Moved to
Brotherly Love NBC The WB
In the House UPN
Doug Nickelodeon ABC
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Comedy Central Sci Fi Channel

Births[edit]

Date Name Cinematic Notability
January 9 Oana Gregory Actress (Crash and Bernstein)
January 14 Gabrielle Elyse Actress (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn)
January 15 Dove Cameron Actress (Liv and Maddie) and singer
January 18 Sarah Gilman Actress (I Didn't Do It)
January 27 Braeden Lemasters Actor (Men of a Certain Age, Betrayal)
February 1 Rahart Adams Actor (Every Witch Way)
February 9 Jimmy Bennett Actor (No Ordinary Family)
Kelli Berglund Actress (Lab Rats, Lab Rats: Elite Force)
February 17 Sasha Pieterse Actress (Pretty Little Liars) and singer
February 19 Allen Alvarado Actor (Flight 29 Down)
February 21 Sophie Turner English actress (Game of Thrones)
February 28 Bobb'e J. Thompson Actor (That's So Raven, Tyler Perry's House of Payne)
March 22 Gig Morton Canadian actor (Mr. Young)
April 3 Sarah Jeffery Canadian actress
April 4 Austin Mahone American singer
April 6 Miranda May Actress (Bunk'd)
April 10 Audrey Whitby Actress (The Thundermans)
April 14 Abigail Breslin Actress (Scream Queens)
April 17 Dee Dee Davis Actress (The Bernie Mac Show)
April 25 Allisyn Ashley Arm Actress (Sonny with a Chance, So Random!)
May 3 Noah Munck Actor (iCarly, The Goldbergs)
May 8 Noah Centineo Actor (The Fosters)
May 17 Ryan Ochoa Actor (iCarly, Pair of Kings)
June 16 Cody Lohan Actor (Living Lohan)
July 16 Nicky Jones Voice actor (Chowder)
July 21 Joey Bragg Actor (Liv and Maddie)
July 30 Austin North Actor (I Didn't Do It)
July 31 Blake Michael Actor (Dog With a Blog)
August 1 Cymphonique Miller Actress (How to Rock) and singer
August 12 Torri Webster Canadian actress (Life with Boys)
September 1 Zendaya Actress (Shake It Up, K.C. Undercover) and singer
September 4 Victoria Moroles Actress (Liv and Maddie, Teen Wolf)
September 6 Alex Christian Jones Actor (Kickin' It)
September 10 Kamil McFadden Actor (K.C. Undercover)
October 9 Bella Hadid American model
November 22 Hailey Baldwin American fashion and model
December 6 Stefanie Scott Actress (A.N.T. Farm)
December 11 Hailee Steinfeld Actress and singer
Jack Griffo Actor (The Thundermans) and singer
December 21 Kaitlyn Dever Actress (Justified, Last Man Standing)

Deaths[edit]

Date Name Age Cinematic Credibility
February 3 Audrey Meadows 73 actress (Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners)
February 13 Martin Balsam 76 actor (Murray on Archie Bunker's Place)
February 15 McLean Stevenson 68 actor (Lt. Col. Henry Blake on M*A*S*H)
Tommy Rettig 54 child actor (Jeff on Lassie)
March 4 Minnie Pearl 83 comedian
March 5 Whit Bissell 86 character actor
March 9 George Burns 100 comedian (The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show)
March 11 Vince Edwards 67 actor (Ben Casey)
April 21 Jimmy Snyder 77 sports commentator (The NFL Today)
May 20 Jon Pertwee 76 actor (Third Doctor) (Doctor Who)
June 2 Ray Combs 40 former host of Family Feud, (suicide)
June 5 Vito Scotti 78 character actor, Gilligan's Island
June 16 Mel Allen 83 sports commentator
July 21 Herb Edelman 62 actor (Stanley Zbornak on The Golden Girls)
August 27 Greg Morris 62 actor (Mission: Impossible)
September 13 Tupac Shakur 25 actor and songwriter
October 6 Ted Bessell 61 actor and director (Donald on That Girl)
October 28 Morey Amsterdam 87 actor and comedian (Buddy on The Dick Van Dyke Show)
December 8 Howard Rollins 46 actor (Tibbs on In the Heat of the Night)
December 12 Larry Gates 81 soap opera actor (Guiding Light)
December 14 Edward K. Milkis 65 producer