‘MDA’ Telethon Heads to Primetime on ABC

MDA telethon

Telethon has been on the airwaves since 1966

The long-standing telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association is moving from syndication to primetime on ABC, it was announced today.

Alphabet will air the two-hour “MDA Show of Strength Telethon” on all ABC stations across the country on Sept. 1 from 9-11 p.m., an hour shorter than last year’s broadcast.

Telethon’s first broadcast was in 1966 on a local Gotham TV station, and has since raised millions of dollars each year towards research and aid for people with muscle diseases thanks to the annual Labor Day telecast.

Move to ABC marks the first time in MDA’s 48-year history that it will appear on a single TV net, and is a considerable upgrade in the visibility and marketing potential for the event.

“We’re delighted to partner with ABC,” said MDA prez and CEO Steven M. Derks. “Broadcasting our show nationwide and on primetime TV provides a critically important way to tell our story of progress in fighting muscle disease, while recognizing and engaging new supporters.”

Transition to a broadcast net arrives after longtime host Jerry Lewis, who had been with the MDA telethon since the establishment of its televised format, departed the event program in 2011.

R.A. Clark, son of Dick Clark, will return to exec produce the telethon after serving as executive producer last year.

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  1. kerrloy says:

    The telethon origination date is wrong, as Lewis did 19-hour telethons on local New York City stations in the 1950’s, usually extended a half hour to an hour at the last moment, by grace of the station.

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