Robert E. Kintner

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Robert E. Kintner (September 12, 1909 – December 20, 1980) was an American journalist and television executive, who served as president of both the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).

Early life[edit]

A native of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Kintner graduated from Swarthmore College in 1931. Two years later, the New York Herald Tribune hired him as its White House correspondent. From 1938 to 1941, he paired with Joseph Alsop to write a nationally syndicated column called "Capital Parade".

Military service[edit]

During World War II, Kintner served in the U.S. Army Air Force, leaving the service in 1944 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Network executive[edit]

After the war, Kintner was hired by ABC to do public relations work. He rose rapidly at the then-small network, and served as its president from 1949 to 1956. Kintner is credited with making ABC more competitive with older and better-established networks NBC and CBS. ABC cut deals with Warner Bros. and Walt Disney to provide programming, it aired the bulk of the Army-McCarthy hearings, and televised two hit shows, Disneyland and Cheyenne, that influenced television programming (in particular, Cheyenne triggered the television trend to Westerns that dominated the medium's entertainment lineups through 1963).

Kintner then led NBC from 1958 to 1965. His NBC tenure was marked by his aggressive effort to push NBC News past CBS News in rankings and prestige. The news department was given more money, leading to notable coverage of the 1960 Presidential election campaign, and the prominence of The Huntley-Brinkley Report.

Quiz show scandals[edit]

Kintner was forced to defend NBC at the height of the quiz show scandal of 1959–60, testifying to the United States Congress that NBC and the other networks were victims of the quiz show rigging just as viewers were, and that the networks were working to wrest production control of programming from advertisers, whose pressures had been seen as key influences driving the scandals.

Cabinet Secretary[edit]

Kintner returned to Washington, DC, in 1966 after President Lyndon B. Johnson named him to be his Cabinet Secretary. Kintner had to resign and retire from work the following year due to failing eyesight.

Private life[edit]

Kintner was married twice and had three children.


  • Schmemann, Serge. "Robert E. Kintner, Ex-Head of ABC and NBC, Dies". New York Times 23 Dec. 1980: B15.