Overmyer Network

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United Network redirects here. For the Kuwaiti internet service provider, see United Networks.
Overmyer Network
The United Network
Type Broadcast television network
Country United States
Availability Defunct
Launch date
1965 (its flagship station, WDHO-TV), May 1, 1967 (nationally)
Dissolved June 1, 1967

The Overmyer Network/United Network was a short-lived television network. It was intended to be a fourth national network in the United States, competing with the Big Three television networks. The network was founded by self-made millionaire Daniel H. Overmyer, who built five UHF stations from 1965-67 (including Toledo's WDHO-TV (now WNWO-TV, an NBC affiliate), which signed on the air on May 3, 1966). A social conservative ("I'm against smut," he declared), Overmyer began to produce his own programs, and decided to create a nationwide hookup, enticing existing stations with a 50-50 profit split with potential affiliates (something that the established network's affiliates had been trying to get from ABC, CBS and NBC for years). The ON was scheduled to debut in the fall of 1967 with anywhere from 75 to 125 affiliates with an 8 hour broadcasting day.[1]

From ON to UN[edit]

The network planned to offer eight hours of programming per day, seven days per week, to its affiliate stations. A daily news service, from United Press International, would provide each station with news. Cultural and sports programming, including the games of the Continental Football League, were also planned.[2] By July 1966, 35 stations had agreed to affiliate with the new network.[3]

Before the network even went on the air, Overmyer was forced to sell a majority share to investors, although he remained the largest shareholder. Rechristened The United Network, which used a cartoon speaking balloon with an upper-case U as the network's logo, the net hit the air on May 1, 1967 with The Las Vegas Show on 106 stations.[4] Hosted by Bill Dana from the Hotel Hacienda in Las Vegas, the two-hour late-night show featured regulars Ann Elder, Pete Barbutti, Danny Meahan, Joanne Worley, Cully Richards and Jack Sheldon.[5]

The network itself, except for a few independent stations in the larger markets, was mostly made up of CBS stations who aired The Las Vegas Show at 11:30 local time, tape delayed from the 11:00 start seen on United-only east coast stations. The network called WPIX in New York City and KHJ-TV in Los Angeles their flagship stations, even though neither was owned by Overmyer/United. Additionally, the WPIX broadcast was often delayed until the weekend due to their commitment to New York Yankees baseball.[6] The network also lacked clearance in some large cities, including San Francisco (which was waiting for KEMO to be approved by the FCC) and Cleveland.

The end[edit]

The average viewership for The Las Vegas Show was 2.6 million.[7] Despite the hype, initially good reviews and high-caliber guest stars, the network quickly started to bleed money; the transmission lines leased from the Bell System, which was the main carrier for television network transmissions at the time, proved to be too expensive. Sources close to the network also claimed that the network launch was too close to the end of the traditional broadcast season, when major sponsors were near the end of their advertising budgets. (During the last days of operation, network president Oliver Treyz made an on-air appeal to potential sponsors.)[8] Both show and network disappeared after the June 1 (some sources say June 3 or June 5) broadcast.[7]

A notice was sent to the network's 107 affiliate stations the first week of June. The notice stated:[9]

"The executive committee of our board of directors, instructed me to inform you that with deep regret we are obliged to advise you that the United Network ceased its interconnected program operations as of May 31, 1967.

"Please be advised that the United Network staff has done everything possible in connection without [sic] efforts to plan and launch the Las Vegas program and other United Network endeavors.

"Station co-operation has been magnificent. We are indeed indebted to you for all your help. Regretfully, Oliver Treyz."

At the time of the company's bankruptcy declaration, the United Network had accrued a nearly $700,000 debt.[4]

Additional programming announced but never aired included Tales from the Great Book, an animated Bible series, plus regional coverage of the Continental Football League.[10]

Overmyer / United affiliates[edit]

Station City
WPIX 11 New York
KHJ-TV 9 Los Angeles
WGN-TV 9 Chicago
WPHL-TV 17 Philadelphia (O&O)
KEMO-TV 20 San Francisco (O&O; did not sign on until 1968)
WKBD-TV 50 Detroit
WATL 36 Atlanta (O&O; did not sign on under Overmyer until 1969)
KLOC-TV 19 Modesto-Sacramento, California
WDHO 24 Toledo, Ohio (O&O; network flagship)
KTNT 11 Seattle-Tacoma, Washington
KZAZ 11 Tucson, Arizona[11]
KWGN-TV 2 Denver[12]
  • NBC-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: KPRC-Houston,[34] KOB-Albuquerque,[35] WIIC-Pittsburgh (Currently WPXI-TV)[36] KMTV-Omaha (now a CBS-affiliated station),[3]
  • ABC-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: WLWI-Indianapolis (now WTHR-TV, an NBC affiliate)[37] WLCY-Tampa (now WTSP, a CBS affiliate),[38] WVUE-New Orleans (now a Fox-affiliated station),[39]
  • Markets that did not air The Las Vegas Show: San Francisco, Lincoln, Omaha, Cleveland, Fort Wayne,[40] Columbus (OH),[40] Dayton[40] Des Moines[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ San Mateo Times, 5 Dec 1966
  2. ^ "The Fourth Steps Forth". Sports Illustrated. August 15, 1966. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Plan Fourth TV Network". Des Moines Register (NYTimes News Service) (Des Moines, IA). 1966-07-13. p. 7. 
  4. ^ a b "Fledgling United Network to Resume Broadcasts", Long Beach Independent (via AP), 3 Jul 1967
  5. ^ "New late show to debut tonight", Rick Dubrow, Monessen Valley Independent (via UPI), 1 May 1967
  6. ^ Bridgeport Telegram, 1 May 1967
  7. ^ a b "Dana Clarifying Downfall of The Las Vegas Show", Bob Thomas, Nashua Telegraph (via AP), 7 June 1967
  8. ^ "Late Night Las Vegas Show, Started May 1, Bites Dust". Associated Press (via The Morning Record) (Meriden, CT). 1967-06-02. p. 3. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Gysel, Dean (1967-06-04). "Services Held For Infant Network". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Corpus Christi, TX). pp. 18F. 
  10. ^ "New TV Chain Gets Continental League". Fresno Bee. Associated Press. November 23, 1966. 
  11. ^ Tucson Daily Citizen, 1 May 1967
  12. ^ a b Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (Colorado Springs, CO). 1967-04-29. p. 12. 
  13. ^ Nashua Telegraph, 1 May 1967
  14. ^ a b Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 1 May 1967
  15. ^ Lawton Constitution, 1 May 1967
  16. ^ Reno Evening Gazette, 1 May 1967
  17. ^ Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1 May 1967
  18. ^ a b Warren (Pa.) Times-Mirror, 1 May 1967
  19. ^ a b Syracuse Herald Journal, 1 May 1967
  20. ^ Kalispell Daily Interlake, 1 May 1967
  21. ^ Gastonia Gazette, 30 Apr 1967
  22. ^ Charleston (WV) Sunday Gazette Mail, 30 Apr 1967
  23. ^ a b Port Arthur News, 30 Apr 1967
  24. ^ Petersburg Progress-Index, 20 May 1967
  25. ^ Northwest Arkansas Times, 20 May 1967
  26. ^ Anniston Star, 20 May 1967
  27. ^ Panama City News, 6 June 1967
  28. ^ Winnipeg Free Press, 10 June 1967
  29. ^ San Antonio Light, 1 May 1967
  30. ^ a b Salina Journal (Salina, KS). 1967-04-28. pp. T5–T6. 
  31. ^ Hope Star (Hope, AR). 1967-04-29. p. 4. 
  32. ^ Radio-Info: "Retro: Central Florida Monday, May 15, 1967" (sourced from TV Guide, Central Florida Edition), May 15, 2011.
  33. ^ Burlington Hawk-Eye (Burlington, IA). 1967-04-28. p. 2A. 
  34. ^ Victoria Advocate, 30 Apr 1967
  35. ^ Albuquerque Tribune, 1 May 1967
  36. ^ Clearfield Progress, 20 May 1967
  37. ^ Anderson Herald, 20 May 1967
  38. ^ Evening Independent, 1 May 1967
  39. ^ Times-Picayune, May 2, 1967
  40. ^ a b c Lima News, 1 May 1967