VQTs Swan song


After 16 years of protests and victories, Viewers for Quality Television has dissolved. Spearheaded by Dorothy Swanson
in 1984 when CBS' Cagney & Lacey
faced the ax, VQT took root in 1988 with the mission to influence networks to keep critically acclaimed series on television, despite Nielsen ratings. Over the years VQT has held this banner like a safety net under faltering shows like China Beach
and I'll Fly Away,
while branding new programs such as WB's Gilmore Girls, and old favorites (X-Files, Frasier) with a "quality" seal of approval.

"In 1984 there was no blueprint for this," Swanson said. "There was just this chain of events. Viewers wanted to have a say." At its peak, the "nonstock, nonmember" corporation had 5,000 people participating in its efforts, but those numbers have dwindled to less than 1,000. Funding too, has dried up. "We just never got the large donations to keep going," Swanson commented.