Metromedia

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For other uses, see Metromedia (disambiguation).
Metromedia, Inc.
Type Public and private
Industry Media
Fate Reorganization into MetroMedia Technologies [1]
Founded 1956 as Metropolitan Broadcasting Corp.
Headquarters New York City
Area served United States
Key people John W. Kluge, founder/chairman/CEO
Products television, radio, entertainment, advertising
Parent Metromedia

Metromedia (also often MetroMedia) was a media company that owned radio and television stations in the United States from 1956 to 1986 and controlled Orion Pictures from 1988-1997.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The company arose from the ashes of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first commercial television network.[2] DuMont had been in economic trouble throughout its existence, and was dealt a fatal blow when ABC accepted a buyout offer from United Paramount Theaters in 1953. The ABC-UPT deal gave ABC the resources to operate a national television service along the lines of CBS and NBC. DuMont officials quickly realized the ABC-UPT deal put their network on life support, and agreed in principle to merge with ABC. However, it was forced to back out of the deal when minority owner Paramount Pictures raised antitrust concerns. UPT had only spun off from Paramount four years earlier, and there were still doubts about whether the two companies were really separate.[3]

By 1955, DuMont realized it could not compete against the other three networks and decided to wind down its operations. Soon after DuMont formally shut down network service in 1956, the parent firm DuMont Laboratories spun off the network's two remaining owned and operated stations, WABD in New York City and WTTG in Washington, D.C., to shareholders as the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation.[4][5] The company's headquarters were co-located with WABD in the former DuMont Tele-Centre (which was later renamed the Metromedia Telecenter) in New York.

In 1957, DuMont Broadcasting purchased two New York area radio stations, WNEW (now WBBR)[6] and WHFI (later WNEW-FM and WWFS),[7][8] and later that year changed its name to the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation to distance itself from its former parent company.[9] The following year, Paramount sold its shares in Metropolitan Broadcasting to Washington-based investor John Kluge, enough to give Kluge controlling interest. Kluge installed himself as chairman, and later increased his holdings to 75 percent.[10] WABD's call letters were later changed to WNEW-TV to match its new radio sisters.[11]

Expansion[edit]

1970s logo for WTCN-TV (now KARE) in Minneapolis, which included the corporate logo for Metromedia; this logo was also used by KTTV in Los Angeles

Metropolitan's first acquisitions included WHK-AM-FM in Cleveland (in 1958);[12] the Foster & Kleiser outdoor advertising firm[13] (in 1959); and KOVR in Stockton, California, WIP-AM-FM in Philadelphia, WTVH-TV (now WHOI) in Peoria, Illinois, and WTVP television (now WAND) in Decatur, Illinois (all in 1960).[14][15] In 1961 Metropolitan purchased KMBC-AM-TV in Kansas City, Missouri.[16] Later that year the company's name was changed to Metromedia;[17] the Metropolitan Broadcasting name was retained for its broadcasting division until 1967.[18]

In separate 1963 deals the company expanded into Los Angeles, buying first KTTV[19] and later KLAC and the original KLAC-FM (now KIIS-FM).[20] The company would later engineer a swap of FM facilities; the second KLAC-FM (later KMET and now KTWV) was established in 1965.[21] Metromedia also entered the realm of live entertainment by purchasing the Ice Capades (in 1963)[22] and the Harlem Globetrotters (in 1967).[23] Later in the decade Metromedia opened a television production center in Los Angeles, known as Metromedia Square, which served as the studio facility for numerous network programs. Metromedia also owned a TV production and distribution company called Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC), established in 1968 from Wolper Productions. MPC produced and syndicated various programs and TV movies, most notably the game show Truth or Consequences and the 1972-86 version of The Merv Griffin Show. Metromedia spent the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s increasing its television and radio station portfolio, and continued to expand its syndication business.

Metromedia entered the record business in 1969 with the launch of the Metromedia Records label, whose biggest-selling artist was Bobby Sherman. The label was also notable as having issued the first two studio albums of Peter Allen, Peter Allen (1971) and Tenterfield Saddler (1972).[24] The label was closed as of 1974. Allen's Tenterfield Saddler, the title song of which has become an Australian standard, was acquired and reissued by A&M Records in 1978.[25]

In 1976, similar to the more successful SFM Holiday Network of syndicated stations launched two years later, Metromedia teamed up with Ogilvy and Mather for a proposed linking of independent TV stations called MetroNet.

The proposed programming would consist of several Sunday night family dramas, on weeknights a half-hour serial and a gothic series similar to Dark Shadows, and on Saturdays a variety program hosted by Charo. The plans for MetroNet failed when advertisers balked at Metromedia's advertising rate, which was only slightly lower than the Big Three's and low national coverage, leaving for another similar operation, Operation Prime Time.[26]

In 1982, Metromedia made its biggest broadcasting purchase when it acquired WCVB-TV in Boston for $220 million, which at the time was the largest amount ever spent on a single television station property.[27] Two years later, John Kluge bought out Metromedia's shareholders and took the company private.[28]

1985-86 divestitures[edit]

On May 6, 1985, Kluge announced the sale of Metromedia's television stations, and Metromedia Producers Corp., to News Corporation (owned by Australian newspaper publisher Rupert Murdoch) and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (owned jointly by Murdoch and Marvin Davis) for $3.5 billion. With the exception of WCVB-TV (which was subsequently sold to the Hearst Corporation), all of the former Metromedia stations formed the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company, while MPC was folded into 20th Century Fox Television. The transactions became official on March 6, 1986.[29] Kluge also sold Metromedia's outdoor advertising firm, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the Ice Capades in that same year, and spun off the radio stations into a separate company (which ironically took on the Metropolitan Broadcasting name) before they were sold to various other owners by the early 1990s.[30][31][32][33]

Continued usage of the Metromedia name[edit]

The Metromedia name has lived on in other projects by Kluge such as the Metromedia Restaurant Group, though the ventures have been largely unrelated to television. The callsign of radio station WMMR in Philadelphia first stood for "MetroMedia Radio". Similarly, radio station WMMS in Cleveland first stood for "MetroMedia Stereo".

In early 2011, abandoned trademarks were registered with the US Department of Commerce by a midwestern businessman, combined with a large collection of the WNEW 1130 AM archive library: old shows, concerts and jingle packs, a new "Metromedia Radio" is now broadcasting over the internet. In 2012, working with Dick Carr, former executive of Metromedia and WNEW radio on air talent Bill Quinn and Marty Wilson, the new Metromedia Radio has expanded into production of radio content for syndication across terrestrial North American stations.

Based on the common link to Metromedia, television historian Clarke Ingram claims that Fox is a direct descendant, if not a revival, of DuMont. Indeed, the former WNEW-TV, now Fox flagship WNYW, is still headquartered in the former Metromedia (and before that, DuMont) Telecenter, now known as the Fox Television Center.

Legal battles[edit]

In retaliation for a lawsuit brought by Paul Winchell, who sought the rights to his children's television program Winchell-Mahoney Time, which was produced at KTTV in Los Angeles during the middle-1960s, it is believed that KTTV management destroyed the program's video tapes. In 1989 Winchell was awarded nearly $18 million as compensation for Metromedia's capricious behavior.[34]

In 1983, Christine Craft, a former evening news co-anchor at KMBC-TV in Kansas City, sued Metromedia on claims of fraud and sexual discrimination. After spending eight months at KMBC-TV in 1981, she was demoted to reporting assignment after a focus group study claimed Craft was "too old, too unattractive and not deferential to men" in the eyes of viewers. Craft declined the reassignment and subsequently resigned from the station. Craft initially won her case, though she lost on appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.[35][36][37][38]

Ownership of Orion Pictures[edit]

On May 22, 1986, Metromedia acquired a 6.5% stake in Orion Pictures Corporation; a movie and television studio.[39] By December, the stake in Orion's ownership was increased to 9.3% to 12.6% and on April 12, 1988, to 44.1%[40] On May 20, 1988, Metromedia acquired Sumner Redstone's share for $78 million, holding a majority stake in Orion Pictures worth nearly 67%. In 1996, Metromedia acquired Motion Picture Corporation of America and The Samuel Goldwyn Company. On April 11, 1997, Metromedia sold Orion/Goldwyn and MPCA to MGM for $573 million and was closed on July 10 of the same year.[41][42] In 1998, MPCA broke apart from MGM becoming independent again.

Typeface[edit]

Beginning in 1967, Metromedia's television stations began utilizing a sans-serif font for their on-air logo. The typeface was a proprietary font called Metromedia Television Alphabet,[18] which was as distinctive as the typeface employed by Group W for its TV and radio stations beginning in 1963. Metromedia Television Alphabet was used for the channel numbers of its television stations until 1977, when another typeface modeled slightly after the Futura family was introduced.

Former Metromedia stations[edit]

Stations are listed alphabetically by state and city of license.

Notes:
1. Two boldface asterisks appearing following a station's call letters (**) indicate a station that was built and signed-on by Metromedia or its predecessor companies;
2. This list does not include WDTV (now KDKA-TV) in Pittsburgh or KCTY in Kansas City. Although DuMont owned the two stations at some point, Metromedia never owned either of these two stations.

Television stations[edit]

City of license / Market Station Channel TV (RF) Years Owned Current Ownership Status
Los Angeles KTTV 11 (11) 1963–1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
San Francisco - Oakland - San Jose KNEW-TV 32 (33) 1968–1970 Non-commercial Independent station, KMTP-TV, owned by Minority Television Project
Stockton - Sacramento - Modesto KOVR 13 (25) 1959–1964 CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
Washington, D.C. WTTG ** 5 (36) 1956–1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
Chicago WFLD-TV 32 (31) 1983–1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
Decatur - Springfield -
Champaign - Urbana, Illinois
WTVP 17 (17) 1960–1965 NBC affiliate, WAND, owned by Block Communications
Peoria - Bloomington, Illinois WTVH-TV 19 (19) 1959–1965 ABC affiliate, WHOI, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group
(operated under JSA and SSA by Granite Broadcasting)
Newport, KY - Cincinnati WXIX-TV 19 (29) 1972–1983 Fox affiliate owned by Raycom Media
Boston WCVB-TV 5 (20) 1982–1986 ABC affiliate owned by Hearst Television
Minneapolis - St. Paul WTCN-TV 11 (11) 1972–1983 NBC affiliate, KARE, owned by Gannett Company
Kansas City, Missouri KMBC-TV 1 9 (29) 1961–1982 ABC affiliate owned by Hearst Television
New York City WABD/WNEW-TV ** 5 (44) 1956–1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O), WNYW
Dallas - Fort Worth KRLD-TV 33 (32) 1983–1986 The CW affiliate, KDAF, owned by Tribune Broadcasting
Houston KRIV-TV 26 (26) 1978–1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)

Radio stations[edit]

AM Stations FM Stations
City of License/Market Station Years owned Current Ownership
Los Angeles KLAC–570 1963–1984 Clear Channel Communications
KLAC-FM–102.7
(now KIIS-FM)
1963–1965 Clear Channel Communications
KLAC-FM/KMET–94.7
(now KTWV)
1965–1986 CBS Radio
San Francisco - Oakland KNEW–910 1966–1980 Clear Channel Communications
KSAN-FM–94.9
(now KYLD)
1966–1981 Clear Channel Communications
Denver - Boulder KHOW–630 1981–1985 Clear Channel Communications
Washington, D.C. WASH-FM–97.1 1968–1986 Clear Channel Communications
Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater WWBA-FM–107.3
(now WXGL)
1981-1986 Cox Enterprises
Chicago WMET-FM–95.5
(now WNUA)
1972–1983 Clear Channel Communications
Baltimore WCBM–680 1963–1986 WCBM Maryland Inc.
WCBM-FM–106.5
(now WWMX)
1963–1968 CBS Radio
Detroit WOMC–104.3 1972–1986 CBS Radio
Kansas City, Missouri KMBC–980 1
(now KMBZ)
1961–1967 Entercom Communications
KMBC-FM/KMBR–99.7 **
(now KZPT)
1962–1967 Entercom Communications
New York City WNEW–1130
(now WBBR)
1957–1986 Bloomberg L.P.
WNEW-FM–102.7 **
(now WWFS)
1958–1986 CBS Radio
Philadelphia WIP–610 1959–1986 CBS Radio
WIP-FM/WMMR–93.3 1959–1986 Greater Media
Cleveland WHK–1420 2 1958–1972 Salem Communications
WHK-FM/WMMS–100.7 2 1958–1972 Clear Channel Communications
Dallas - Fort Worth KRLD–1080 3 1978–1986 CBS Radio
Seattle - Tacoma KJR–950 1980–1984 Clear Channel Communications

Footnotes:
1: The acquisition of KMBC-AM-TV also included KMOS-TV in Sedalia, Missouri, and KFRM radio in Concordia, Kansas. Both stations were subsequently spun-off by Metropolitan Broadcasting to other firms;[43]
2: DuMont Broadcasting also acquired a construction permit for WHK-TV (channel 19) in Cleveland along with its purchase of WHK radio in 1958, but that station never signed on. The channel 19 allocation is now occupied by WOIO, which was under common ownership with WHK (Malrite Broadcasting) for a few years;
3: The acquisition of KRLD also included the Texas State Network.

Television syndication[edit]

This is a list of television programs that were produced and/or syndicated by Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC):

Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

* -- MPC was the international distributor for these programs. Distribution was later transferred to 20th Century Fox Television, following Murdoch's acquisition of MPC. These programs ane now distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Television. In the United States, Sony Pictures Television and its predecessor, Columbia Pictures Television, was always the distributor of syndicated repeats of these programs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ About Us - MetroMedia Technologies. Mmt.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  2. ^ Goldenson, Leonard H.; Wolf, Marvin J. (1991). Beating the Odds. New York: Macmillan. p. 105. 
  3. ^ Archived December 31, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "DuMont network to quit in telecasting 'spin-off.'" Broadcasting - Telecasting, August 15, 1955, pg. 64. [1]
  5. ^ "DuMont completes spin-off, separates broadcasting, labs.'" Broadcasting - Telecasting, December 5, 1955, pg. 7. [2]
  6. ^ "DuMont pays $7.5 million for WNEW." Broadcasting, March 25, 1957, pp. 31-32. [3][4]
  7. ^ "Changing Hands." Broadcasting, November 18, 1957, pg. 96. [5]
  8. ^ "For the Record." Broadcasting - Telecasting, January 6, 1958, p. 108. [6]
  9. ^ "DuMont revenue grows, name change approved." Broadcasting, May 19, 1958, pg. 84. [7]
  10. ^ "Kluge buying Paramount's 21% of Metropolitan Broadcasting." Broadcasting, December 1, 1958, pg. 9. [8]
  11. ^ "Name change." Broadcasting, September 8, 1958, pg. 84. [9]
  12. ^ "Changing hands." Broadcasting, April 21, 1958, pg. 58. [10]
  13. ^ Spielvogel, Carl. "Advertising: an acquisition set." The New York Times, Dec. 20, 1959.
  14. ^ "3 blessings with 2 rebukes." Broadcasting, January 4, 1960, pg. 40. [11]
  15. ^ "Changing hands." Broadcasting, January 18, 1960, pp. 95-96. [12][13]
  16. ^ "Metropolitan buying KMBC." Broadcasting, December 26, 1960, pp. 51-52. [14][15]
  17. ^ "It's Metromedia." Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 3, 1961, pg. 56. [16]
  18. ^ a b "Metromedia gets its TV team in uniform." Broadcasting, March 25, 1968, pp. 56-57. [17][18]
  19. ^ "KTTV to Metromedia for $10 million plus." Broadcasting, January 14, 1963, pg. 9. [19]
  20. ^ "Metromedia adds KLAC in $4.5 million deal." Broadcasting, March 18, 1963, pp. 9-10. [20][21]
  21. ^ "Changing hands." Broadcasting, March 22, 1965, pp. 110-111: Metromedia acquires KRHM (94.7 FM) and sells KLAC-FM (102.7 FM); the FCC allows both facilities to exchange call letters. [22][23]
  22. ^ "Ice Capades Acquired By Metromedia, Inc." The New York Times, May 14, 1963.
  23. ^ Gent, George. "Metromedia buys Globetrotters; TV chain will add team to Ice Capades operation." The New York Times, May 24, 1967.
  24. ^ Peter Allen discography; www.allmusic.com.
  25. ^ Peter Allen discography; www5d.biglobe.ne.jp.
  26. ^ Nadel, Gerry (1977-05-30). "Who Owns Prime Time? The Threat of the 'Occasional' Networks". New York Magazine (New York): 34–35. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  27. ^ Schwartz, Tony. "Metromedia seeks TV station." The New York Times, July 23, 1981.
  28. ^ Cuff, Daniel F. "Business people; Metromedia's founder begins new challenge." The New York Times, Dec. 14, 1983.
  29. ^ Cole, Robert J.. "Murdoch to buy & TV stations; cost $2 billion." The New York Times, May 7, 1985.
  30. ^ Stevenson, Richard W. "Metromedia ad business sale". The New York Times, Jan. 21, 1986.
  31. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine. "Metromedia set to sell Globetrotters, ice show." The New York Times, Mar. 5, 1986.
  32. ^ "Metromedia, Katz radio groups sold in LBO's." Broadcasting, March 31, 1986, pp. 33-34. [24][25]
  33. ^ "In brief." Broadcasting, November 17, 1986, pg. 120. [26]
  34. ^ "Victory for ventriloquist." Broadcasting, July 3, 1989, pg. 37. [27]
  35. ^ "Newsroom issue goes to court." Broadcasting, August 1, 1983, pp. 24-25. [28][29]
  36. ^ "Craft decision leaves questions." Broadcasting, August 15, 1983, pp. 28-30. [30][31][32]
  37. ^ "Craft case continues." Broadcasting, December 23, 1985, pg. 69. [33]
  38. ^ "Christine Craft wins two, loses big one." Broadcasting, March 10, 1986, pp. 74-75. [34][35]
  39. ^ Metromedia's Orion Stake, chicagotribune.com
  40. ^ Metromedia's Orion Stake, newyorktimes.com
  41. ^ Bates, James. "Metromedia to Sell Film Units to MGM for $573 million." The New York Times. April 29, 1997.
  42. ^ "Years of Hits, Misses Comes to Close." Daily News of Los Angeles. July 10, 1997; Bates, James. "MGM Lays Off 85 in Metromedia Film, TV Units." Los Angeles Times. July 11, 1997.
  43. ^ "$9.65 million sale of KMBC." Broadcasting, July 31, 1961, pp. 45-46. [36][37]

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