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The American Broadcasting Company coined the term after school special in 1972 with a series of made-for-television movies, usually dealing with controversial or socially relevant issues, that were generally broadcast in the late afternoon and meant to be viewed by school-age children, particularly teenagers. The specials were generally broadcast four to six times during the school year, pre-empting local programming that would usually follow the network schedule in the late afternoon hours.
CBS distributed its own productions as the CBS Afternoon Playhouse (later known as CBS Schoolbreak Special). It also had a program called Famous Classic Tales, which aired Australian cartoons that were adapted from literature books (similar to Family Classic Tales). NBC had afterschool programs under the umbrella title Special Treat. ABC had the ABC Afterschool Special; similar programs included The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie and the ABC Weekend Special.