Histories Of The Broadcast Networks

Networks, Producers & Distributors

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Corporate Histories of the Networks from their founding to present day including major people, events, corporate performance and recent series.

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CBS began in 1927 as a radio network with 16 stations, United Independent Broadcasters, Inc., founded by Arthur Judson, a concert tour manager and backed by Louis Sterling, President of the Columbia Phonograph Company. Later other investors were invited in, the most prominent of whom was William S. Paley. On September 26, 1928, at the age of 27, Paley became President of the firm whose name was changed to the Columbia Broadcasting System. Paley introduced many innovations to radio broadcasting, the most significant of which was the signing of an agreement in 1931 with Paramount Pictures whereby film stars were heard on radio for the first time. This laid the groundwork for the CBS policy in television from the outset to feature shows built around stars (Ed Sullivan, Lucille Ball, Arthur Godfrey, Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Garry Moore, etc.).

CBS was in TV as early as 1931 when it began regularly scheduled TV programming over experimental station W2XAB in New York City. In 1941, CBS began weekly broadcasts of black-and-white TV programming over WCBS-TV in New York. By 1948, it had 30 affiliated stations. In 1951, CBS broadcast the first live coast-to-coast TV transmission between New York and San Francisco. The year 1951 also marked the birth of the CBS Eye logo, designed by William Golden. It would stand the test of time and become one of the most famous logos in the world.

In 1952 CBS opened Television City in Hollywood — the industry's first self-contained TV production facility. “Playhouse 90” made its debut in 1956, but the big event of the decade was the 1951 debut of “I Love Lucy,” a series regarded as the progenitor of the situation comedy. In the field of soap operas, CBS was both leader and winner, virtually monopolizing that market from 1951 to 1956. In 1951, it introduced “Search for Tomorrow,” which was to become the longest-running show in that genre. This

was followed by “Love of Life” (1951) and “The Gui [continued]