Thomas Murphy (broadcasting)
Thomas S. Murphy (born May 31, 1925) is an American broadcast executive, and was chair and chief executive officer of Capital Cities / ABC, Inc. until 1996. Together with fellow Capital Cities executive Daniel Burke, Murphy engineered the 1986 acquisition of the American Broadcasting Company in 1986 for $3.5 billion. Murphy and Burke, who served as President and Chief Executive of ABC until 1994, are credited with increasing the profitability and efficiency of ABC.
Murphy was born in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Cornell University with B.S. in 1945, and Harvard University with an M.B.A. in 1949. He served in the U.S. Navy, and worked at Kenyon & Eckhardt and Lever Brothers.
Broadcaster and author Lowell Thomas, and his business manager/partner, Frank Smith led a New York City-based investor group to buy control of Hudson Valley Broadcasting, in 1954 and hired Murphy to run the WROW Stations as its first general manager. Although Murphy did not have any broadcast experience, his leadership and conservative financial restraint helped bring WROW-TV to profitability three years later. In December 1957 Hudson Valley merged with Durham Television Enterprises, owners of WTVD in Durham, North Carolina, to form Capital Cities Television Corporation, which later became Capital Cities Broadcasting Corp. in 1960 and Capital Cities Communications in 1973.
Murphy moved quickly up the ranks in the company. In 1960 he became Capital Cities' first Vice President. In 1964 he became President while Smith moved up to become the company's first Chairman. In 1966 Smith died unexpectedly and Murphy became Chairman and CEO. He held this position for the next 30 years. Under his leadership, Murphy helped build Capital Cities from a small broadcasting company into a multibillion-dollar media conglomerate. He then got into the publishing and newspaper business by buying Fairchild Publications in 1968, and then bought several newspapers including The Kansas City Star and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Murphy's biggest acquisition came in 1985 when he bought the American Broadcasting Company for $3.5 billion to form Capital Cities/ABC. The merger was engineered by Murphy and the man who replaced him as WTEN's station manager, Daniel B. Burke, who became ABC's president. In 1995 Capital Cities / ABC was bought by Disney. He is a member of board of directors of Berkshire Hathaway, General Housewares Corp., Texaco, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and IBM Corporation and a Life Trustee and Honorary Vice Chair of New York University
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