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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FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY


Fox Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and owner of Twentieth Century Fox, began broadcasting with the late night “Late Show with Joan Rivers” on October 9, 1986. The next year, on April 5, 1987, the fledgling network began prime-time broadcasts on Sunday nights only. The initial line-up consisted of “Married With Children” and “The Tracey Ullman Show,” which featured animated interludes of a dysfunctional cartoon family named “The Simpsons.” Three new shows were added in the following weeks, including “21 Jump Street,” which helped launch the career of actor Johnny Depp. In July of

that year, Fox launched a Saturday night prime-time line-up. From 1989 to 1993, the network steadily added programming and expanded its prime time coverage to a full seven nights a week. Originally the network aimed its programming at a young urban demographic. Particular attention was given to African American oriented programming, with comedy series such as “Roc,” “Martin,” “Living Single” and “In Living Color” (a weekly comedy-variety show which showcased not only the talents of Keenan Ivory Wayans and his brother Damon Wayans, but also comedian Jim Carrey). The youth market got its first soap opera with “Beverly Hills 90210”, and its successful spin-off “Melrose Place.” Fox consistently programmed “risky” shows, even in the face of boycotts, most notably aimed at “Married With Children” and “Beverly Hills 90210.” The network, feeling strong about its programming, slotted “The Simpsons” against NBC’s top-rated sitcom “The Cosby Show” in 1991.

The network was also actively pursuing sports programming. In 1993, Fox won the rights to NFL football for four years, including the rights to 1997’s Super Bowl XXXI. In 1994, Fox acquired the rights to broadcast NHL hockey and in 1995, Fox signed an agreement with Major League Baseball to broadcast weekly games, the 1996, 1998 and 200 [continued]