Overmyer Network

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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 television network. It was intended to be a fourth national commercial network in the United States, competing with the Big Three television networks. The network was founded by self-made millionaire Daniel H. Overmyer, who started WDHO-TV (now WNWO-TV, an NBC affiliate), in his birthplace, Toledo, Ohio, which signed on the air on May 3, 1966.[1] In addition Mr. Overmyer sold 80 percent of each construction permit for UHF stations in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Houston to AVC Corporation in March 1967.[2] None of the five stations were operational at the time of the sale. With Mr. Overmyer owning 20 percent of each station, four of the five would later sign on in 1968-69 as part of the U.S. Communications Corporation group of stations.[3] 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). Under the leadership of former ABC television president Oliver Treyz,[4] the ON was scheduled to debut in the fall of 1967 with anywhere from 75 to 125 affiliates with an 8 hour broadcasting day.[5]

From ON to UN[edit]

Original Overmyer Network logo (re-created from an old UPI photograph).

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 Tales from the Great Book (an animated Bible series) and regional games of the Continental Football League, were also planned.[6][7] By July 1966, 35 stations had agreed to affiliate with the new network.[8]

Before the network even went on the air, Overmyer was forced to sell a majority share to investors, although he remained the largest shareholder. In early 1967, Overmyer tried to persuade the Mutual Broadcasting System to engage in a merger of the two networks, as a way to raise more money in the venture. The Mutual board turned thumbs-down on the merger proposal, but three Mutual stockholders formed a separate group with 11 wealthy western businessmen to buy out Overmyer.[4] Rechristened The United Network, which used an upper-case U inside a television screen as the network's logo, the net hit the air on May 1, 1967 with The Las Vegas Show on 106 stations.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] 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, pointing out that air time on Las Vegas was a mere $6,000 a minute, barely a third of what NBC was charging for The Tonight Show.)[13] Both show and network disappeared after the June 1 (some sources say June 3 or June 5) broadcast.[12]

A notice was sent to the network's 107 affiliate stations the first week of June. The notice stated:[14]

"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.[9]

Overmyer / United affiliates[edit]

The Las Vegas Show was cleared in at least 120 markets,[15] including the following:

Station City Current status
WPIX 11 New York The CW affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
KHJ-TV 9 Los Angeles Independent station, KCAL-TV, owned by CBS Corporation
WGN-TV 9 Chicago Independent station owned by Tribune Broadcasting
WPHL-TV 17 Philadelphia MyNetworkTV affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
KEMO-TV 20 San Francisco (O&O; did not sign on until 1968) Independent station, KOFY-TV, owned by Granite Broadcasting Corporation
WKBD-TV 50 Detroit The CW Owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by CBS Corporation
WATL 36 Atlanta (O&O; did not sign on until 1969) MyNetworkTV affiliate owned by Tegna, Inc.
KLOC-TV 19 Modesto-Sacramento, California Univision owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Univision Communications
WDHO 24 Toledo, Ohio (O&O; network flagship) NBC affiliate, WNWO-TV, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group
KTNT 11 Seattle-Tacoma, Washington The CW owned-and-operated station (O&O), KSTW, owned by CBS Corporation
KZAZ 11 Tucson, Arizona[16] Fox affiliate, KMSB, owned by Tegna, Inc. (operated under SSA by Raycom Media)
KWGN-TV 2 Denver[17] The CW affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting


  1. ^ "Broadcasting May 9, 1966 Page 60 and 61" (PDF). 
  2. ^ "Broadcasting April 3, 1967 Page 80" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "Broadcasting August 31, 1970 Page 30" (PDF). 
  4. ^ a b Mutual Radio Tribute Site: "Mutual Television: The Network That Never Made Air" Archived 2015-05-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ San Mateo Times, 5 Dec 1966
  6. ^ "New TV Chain Gets Continental League". Fresno Bee. Associated Press. November 23, 1966. 
  7. ^ "The Fourth Steps Forth". Sports Illustrated. August 15, 1966. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Plan Fourth TV Network". Des Moines Register (NYTimes News Service). Des Moines, IA. 1966-07-13. p. 7. 
  9. ^ a b "Fledgling United Network to Resume Broadcasts", Long Beach Independent (via AP), 3 Jul 1967
  10. ^ "New late show to debut tonight", Rick Dubrow, Monessen Valley Independent (via UPI), 1 May 1967
  11. ^ Bridgeport Telegram, 1 May 1967
  12. ^ a b "Dana Clarifying Downfall of The Las Vegas Show", Bob Thomas, Nashua Telegraph (via AP), 7 June 1967
  13. ^ "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. 
  14. ^ Gysel, Dean (1967-06-04). "Services Held For Infant Network". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Corpus Christi, TX. pp. 18F. 
  15. ^ a b c Bert Reesing's television column, Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 19, 1967
  16. ^ Tucson Daily Citizen, 1 May 1967
  17. ^ a b Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph. Colorado Springs, CO. 1967-04-29. p. 12.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  18. ^ Nashua Telegraph, 1 May 1967
  19. ^ a b Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 1 May 1967
  20. ^ Lawton Constitution, 1 May 1967
  21. ^ Reno Evening Gazette, 1 May 1967
  22. ^ Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1 May 1967
  23. ^ a b Warren (Pa.) Times-Mirror, 1 May 1967
  24. ^ a b Syracuse Herald Journal, 1 May 1967
  25. ^ Kalispell Daily Interlake, 1 May 1967
  26. ^ Gastonia Gazette, 30 Apr 1967
  27. ^ Charleston (WV) Sunday Gazette Mail, 30 Apr 1967
  28. ^ a b Port Arthur News, 30 Apr 1967
  29. ^ Petersburg Progress-Index, 20 May 1967
  30. ^ Northwest Arkansas Times, 20 May 1967
  31. ^ Anniston Star, 20 May 1967
  32. ^ Panama City News, 6 June 1967
  33. ^ Winnipeg Free Press, 10 June 1967
  34. ^ San Antonio Light, 1 May 1967
  35. ^ a b Salina Journal. Salina, KS. 1967-04-28. pp. T5–T6.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  36. ^ Hope Star. Hope, AR. 1967-04-29. p. 4.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  37. ^ Radio-Info: "Retro: Central Florida Monday, May 15, 1967" (sourced from TV Guide, Central Florida Edition), May 15, 2011.
  38. ^ Burlington Hawk-Eye. Burlington, IA. 1967-04-28. p. 2A.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  39. ^ United Network ad in Broadcasting Magazine, April 3, 1967, p.106B-106C
  40. ^ Victoria Advocate, 30 Apr 1967
  41. ^ Albuquerque Tribune, 1 May 1967
  42. ^ Clearfield Progress, 20 May 1967
  43. ^ a b Des Moines Register. Des Moines, IA. 1967-04-30. pp. 6–TV.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  44. ^ Anderson Herald, 20 May 1967
  45. ^ Evening Independent, 1 May 1967
  46. ^ Times-Picayune, May 2, 1967,
  47. ^ a b c Lima News, 1 May 1967