NTA Film Network

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NTA Film Network
TypeDefunct broadcast television network
United States
AvailabilityUnited States (1956–1961)
OwnerNational Telefilm Associates
Twentieth Century Fox
Key people
Charles C. Barry
Oliver A. Unger
Launch date
October 1956; 67 years ago (October 1956)
DissolvedNovember 1961; 62 years ago (November 1961)

The NTA Film Network was an early American television network founded by Ely Landau in 1956 that operated on a part-time basis, broadcasting films and several first-run television programs from major Hollywood studios. Despite attracting more than 100 affiliate stations and securing the financial support of Twentieth Century-Fox (which purchased a 50% share of NTA in November 1956), the network proved unprofitable and was discontinued by 1961. The NTA Film Network's flagship station WNTA-TV is now WNET, one of the flagship stations of the Public Broadcasting Service.


Parent company National Telefilm Associates was founded by producers Ely Landau and Oliver A. Unger[1] in 1954 when Landau's film and television production company Ely Landau, Inc. was reorganized in partnership with Unger and screenwriter/producer Harold Goldman.[2] NTA was the successor company to U.M. & M. TV Corporation, which it purchased in 1956.[3]

In October 1956, the NTA Film Network was launched with more than 100 affiliate stations.[4] It was a syndication service that distributed films and television programs to independent television stations and stations affiliated with NBC, CBS or ABC. The network's flagship station was WNTA-TV Channel 13 in New York.[5] Trade papers called the NTA Film Network a new television network.[6]

Unlike the Big Three television networks, the local stations in the NTA Film Network were not connected via coaxial cable or microwave relay. Instead, NTA Film Network programs were mailed to each station, a method used by other television syndicators in the 1950s and 1960s. However, many local stations agreed to broadcast NTA Film Network programs simultaneously. Landau's claim to network status was based on the simultaneous airing of the programs.[7]

In November 1956, Twentieth Century-Fox announced its 50% purchase of the NTA Film Network and its plans to produce original content for the network.[4] The film network grew to 128 stations.[8] In September 1957, the network purchased KMGM-TV (now KMSP-TV) in Minneapolis.[9]


The following is a list of NTA Film Network affiliate stations in November 1956.[10]

Ada, OK: KTEN Grand Junction: KREX-TV Oklahoma City: KGEO
Allentown-Bethlehem, PA: WGLV Green Bay-Marinette, WI: WBAY-TV Peoria: WTVH
Anchorage: KTVA Harrisburg: WCMB-TV Phoenix: KPHO-TV
Amarillo, TX: KGNC-TV Hattiesburg: WDAM-TV Portland, ME: WCSH
Asheville, NC: WLOS Henderson-Las Vegas: KLRJ-TV Portland, OR: KPTV
Atlanta: WAGA Houston: KTRK-TV Providence: WJAR
Austin, MN: KMMT Indianapolis: WFBM-TV Raleigh-Durham: WTVD
Bakersfield: KERO-TV Jackson, MS: WLBT Richmond: WTVR-TV
Bangor, ME: WABI-TV Jefferson City, MO: KRCG Roanoke, VA: WDBJ
Birmingham, AL: WBRC Johnstown, PA: WARD-TV Rock Island: WHBF-TV
Bismarck ND: KBMB-TV Juneau: KINY-TV Rockford, IL: WREX-TV
Carlsbad NM: KAVE-TV Kansas City: KMBC-TV Salt Lake City: KSL-TV
Cedar Rapids-Waterloo: KWWL Kearney, NE: KHOL-TV San Angelo, TX: KTXL-TV
Charleston, WV: WCHS-TV Knoxville: WBIR-TV San Antonio: KENS-TV
Charleston, SC: WUSN-TV West Lafayette, IN: WFAM-TV San Diego: XETV
Chattanooga: WDEF-TV Lafayette, LA: KLFY-TV Savannah: WSAV-TV
Chicago: WGN-TV Lincoln: KOLN Seattle-Tacoma: KTNT-TV
Cincinnati: WKRC-TV Little Rock-Pine Bluff: KATV Sioux City: KTIV
Cleveland: WJW-TV Los Angeles: KTTV South Bend-Elkhart, IN: WSJV
Columbus, GA: WDAK-TV Lubbock: KDUB Spokane: KREM-TV
Columbus, OH: WTVN-TV Madison: WISC-TV Springfield, MA: WHYN-TV
Columbus, MS: WCBI-TV Memphis: WMCT St. Joseph, MO: KFEQ-TV
Dallas-Ft Worth: KFJZ-TV Miami: WGBS-TV Sweetwater, TX: KPAR-TV
Decatur, IL: WTVP-TV Milwaukee: WITI Tampa: WSUN-TV
Decatur, AL: WMSL-TV Minneapolis: WTCN-TV Tucson: KVOA
Denver: KTVR Minot: KCJB-TV Tulsa-Muskogee: KOTV
Des Moines-Ames: WOI-TV Mobile: WALA-TV Twin Falls, ID: KLIX-TV
Dickinson, ND: KDIX-TV Monroe, LA: KNOE-TV Washington: WMAL-TV
Dothan, AL: WTVY Montgomery: WCOV-TV Waterloo-Ft Wayne, IN: WINT
Duluth-Superior: KDAL-TV Muncie: WLBC Watertown, NY: WCNY-TV
Eau Claire: WEAU-TV Nashville: WSIX-TV Wichita Falls, TX: KSYD-TV
El Paso: KROD-TV New Jersey-New York: WATV, later WNTA Wichita-Hutchinson: KTVH
Fairbanks: KTVF Norfolk: WVEC-TV Wilkes Barre-Scranton: WILK-TV
Fargo-Valley City: KXJB-TV Oak Hill, WV: WOAY-TV York, PA: WNOW-TV

Later affiliates included KOOK-TV in Billings, Montana (c. 1958-1959),[11] KONO-TV in San Antonio (c. 1958–1959),[12][13] WISH-TV in Indianapolis (c. 1958–1959)[14] and KTVU in San Francisco (c. 1959–1960).[15] The network purchased KMGM-TV in Minneapolis in September 1957.[9]


The NTA Film Network broadcast both films and television programs. NTA publicized its feature films as "Spectaculars". Seen here is the 1957 advertisement for the first TV airing of Suez, starring Tyrone Power and Loretta Young.

The NTA Film Network aired both films and television series. Among its 1956–1957 offerings were 52 Twentieth Century-Fox films.[5] Premiere Performance, a prime-time block of Twentieth Century-Fox films, aired from 1957 to 1959. Other film blocks included TV Hour of Stars[16] and The Big Night (both 1958–1959).[17]

The network's television programs included:

Other lesser-known NTA series included:

In October 1956, the NTA Film Network also announced provisional plans to telecast live sporting and special events (using network relays) by the 1959–1960 television season.[25]

Timeline of programs[edit]

This timeline shows the airdates of the NTA Film Network's programs and later NTA offerings. The number of episodes aired for each series is noted in parentheses. Some dates are tentative, as accurate records for filmed television series were not always maintained.

1966 in television1965 in television1964 in television1963 in television1962 in television1961 in television1960 in television1959 in television1958 in television1957 in television1956 in television
A Day With DoodlesThe Fair AdventureHergé's Adventures of TintinProbe (TV series)Q. T. HushAssignment: UnderwaterThe Oscar Levant ShowThe Third ManPlay of the WeekGrand Jury (TV series)NewsbeatThe Mike Wallace InterviewGeorge Jessel's Show BusinessHenry Morgan and Company (TV series)GlencannonAlex in Wonderland (TV series)MantovaniThis is AliceThe Adventures of William TellDivorce CourtThe Big NightTV Hour of StarsOpen EndDanger Is My BusinessThe Best of Bishop SheenJuke Box JuryHow to Marry a Millionaire (TV series)Premiere PerformanceOfficial DetectiveMan Without a GunSheriff of CochiseThe PasserbyMan's HeritageBill Corum Sports Show


Friday 1958–1959

7:00 7:30 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
Local Man Without a Gun This Is Alice How to Marry a Millionaire Premiere Performance (20th Century Fox movies)

Note: This schedule was announced in May 1958. According to the announcement, 17 television stations would follow this schedule for the 1958–1959 television season; other NTA Film Network affiliates aired the programs out of pattern.[26]

End of network[edit]

In January 1959, Ely Landau was succeeded by Charles C. Barry, who assumed the role of president of network operations. Landau continued to chair National Telefilm Associates.[27] Despite Twentieth Century-Fox's 50% ownership, the film network never developed into a major commercial television network on a par with the "Big Three" television networks. Several modern television historians regard the NTA Film Network as a syndication service rather than a major television network.[28][29]

By 1961, WNTA-TV was losing money, and the network's flagship station was sold to the Educational Broadcasting Corporation that November. WNTA-TV became WNDT (later WNET), flagship station of the National Educational Television network, a forerunner of PBS.[30] NTA network operations did not continue without a flagship station, although parent company National Telefilm Associates continued syndication services. Four television series (Probe, Tintin, The Fair Adventure and A Day with Doodles) were syndicated by NTA between 1962 and 1966.[23]

See also[edit]

Other early failed American television networks:

Further reading[edit]

  • "New Film TV Network to Start Mid-October". Boxoffice. September 15, 1956. p. 15.[dead link]
  • "Coast TV Station Wins Top NTA Network Prize". Boxoffice. August 24, 1957. p. 13.[dead link]
  • "Fourth TV Network, For Films, is Created". Boxoffice. July 7, 1956. p. 8.[dead link]


  1. ^ "Oliver Unger Quits NTA; Charles Glett Successor". BOXOFFICE. 1961-05-29. Retrieved 2009-03-09. [dead link]
  2. ^ "U.M.&M. and NTA, a brief history". Archived from the original on 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  3. ^ "Short subjects film library sold again". Albuquerque Journal. Albuquerque, NM. 1956-05-16. p. 25.
  4. ^ a b "Fox Buys Into TV Network; Makes 390 Features Available". Boxoffice. 1956-11-03. p. 8.
  5. ^ a b Golembiewski, Dick (2008). Milwaukee Television History: The Analog Years. Marquette University Press. pp. 280–281. ISBN 978-0-87462-055-9.
  6. ^ "Fourth TV Network, for Films, is Created". Boxoffice. 1956-07-07. p. 8.
  7. ^ "New Voice on Channel 13". Time. 1958-05-19. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007.
  8. ^ Boddy, William (1990). Fifties Television: The Industry and its Critics. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 138. ISBN 0-252-01699-8.
  9. ^ a b "NTA Buys Second TV Station in Month". Boxoffice. October 5, 1957. p. 21.
  10. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956.
  11. ^ "Friday TV Schedule". The Daily Inter Lake. Kalispell, MT. 1958-12-26. p. 3.
  12. ^ "How to Marry a Millionaire Tonight at 9:30 PM KONO-TV Channel 12 NTA Film Network". San Antonio Express and News. San Antonio, TX. 1959-03-14. p. 23.
  13. ^ "Details, Previews of Tonight's TV". San Antonio Express and News. San Antonio, TX. 1959-01-10. p. 21.
  14. ^ "Complete TV Programs for the Week". Logansport Pharos-Tribune. Logansport, IN. 1958-10-05. p. 21.
  15. ^ "What's on TV: Wednesday". The Daily Review. Hayward, CA. 1960-01-19. p. 17.
  16. ^ "TV Hour of Stars Top daytime drama". Tucson Daily Citizen. Tucson, AZ. 1958-11-10. p. 20.
  17. ^ "To Withhold Shirley Temple Films From Television". Boxoffice. 1958-03-17. p. 16.
  18. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows, 1946–Present. New York: Ballantine. pp. 642–643, 847–848. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  19. ^ Production Radio and Television, pg 942[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "National Telefilm Associates (NTA)". IMDb.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  21. ^ "TV Notes". Record-Eagle. Traverse City, MI. 1959-03-21. p. 4.
  22. ^ "Wallace, Mike: U.S. Broadcast Journalist". Museum of Broadcast Communications. 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  23. ^ a b c Erickson, Hal (1989). Syndicated Television: The First Forty Years, 1947-1987. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company. pp. 17–181. ISBN 0-7864-1198-8.
  24. ^ "Broadcasting". 66. Cahners Pub. Co. 1964: 74. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  25. ^ "New 'Network' Planning Debut". The Progress-Index. Petersburg, VA. 1956-10-30. p. 5.
  26. ^ Kleiner, Dick (1958-05-03). "Thin Man Mystery Show May Add Baby to Cast". The Lima News. p. 19.
  27. ^ "Barry Named President of NTA Film Network". Boxoffice. 1959-01-26. p. 17.
  28. ^ McNeil, Alex (1980). Total Television (4th ed.). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
  29. ^ Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1964). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-31864-1.
  30. ^ "Joseph S. Iseman Papers". University of Maryland Libraries. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2009-04-12.

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