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Worldvision's globe design logo from 1988 to 1991, with World Vision disclaimer.
|ABC Film Syndication (1954–1973)|
|Fate||Folded into Paramount Domestic Television after Spelling Entertainment's merger with Viacom|
|Founded||March 27, 1954|
|Parent||Taft Broadcasting (1979–1987)|
Great American Broadcasting (1987-1989)
Spelling Entertainment (1989–1999)
|Divisions||Worldvision Home Video, Inc.|
Worldvision Enterprises, Inc. was a television program and home video distributor established in 1954 as ABC Film Syndication, the domestic and overseas program distribution arm of the ABC Television Network. They primarily licensed programs from independent producers, rather than producing their own content.
ABC Films Syndication
In spring 1954, American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, Inc. created the ABC Films Syndication, Inc. (AFS), a subsidiary headed by George Shupert, which specialized in syndication and in-house program production. By January 1956, AFS formed a 50/50 joint venture production company, Rabco Productions, with Hal Roach, Jr..
In January 1956, AFS announced an expansion in production and sales staff for the year. Five new properties were acquired by the company and all received pilots, with two set for syndication if not placed nationally. Two were to be produced by John Gibbs and Meridian Pictures, Renfrew of the Mounted and Ripley's Believe It or Not!, while Rabco's Bernard Fox was assigned with Forest Ranger. The two pilots set for production were The Americano by Martin Gosch and filmed in Spain and The Force produced by Victor Stoloff about the plain clothed Canadian Mounties division. Two shows, Code 3 and The Three Musketeers were already under production for syndication. One of AFS's earliest successes was Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, produced largely in Mexico by Nassour Studios and starring Irish McCalla as the comic-book heroine. Even though only 26 episodes were filmed, the series ran for years in reruns on local stations, in kiddie-show time slots.
In 1959, ABC International created Worldvision Enterprises to syndicate programs for overseas markets. Henry G. Plitt, previously president of Paramount Gulf Theatres, became president of the company in February 1959, replacing Shupert after he left for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Kevin O’Sullivan later became president of the company.
In 1971, the FCC barred the participation of networks in the syndication of their own programs, though this rule was eliminated by 1993. Worldvision Enterprises was formed by five former ABC Films executives to purchase the network's syndication assets in 1973.
Their home video division released numerous Hanna-Barbera titles and Jack Nicklaus' Golf My Way instructional video series. They were also responsible for the television distribution of a majority of the Carolco Pictures feature film library (inherited from Orbis Communications, which was a division of Carolco before the studio went bankrupt).
Worldvision has been owned by many companies over the years. The growth of its home video division was primarily under the ownership of Taft Broadcasting, which acquired the company in 1979. In October 1987, Taft's assets including Worldvision were acquired by Great American Communications. During the mid-1990s, Blockbuster Inc., operator of the now-defunct video store chain, briefly held a controlling interest in the company, and its logo appeared on programs alongside Worldvision's.
Television producer Aaron Spelling, attempting to find an outlet to distribute his programs, attempted to buy Worldvision from Great American, but chief company shareholder Carl H. Lindner told Spelling that he was not interested in selling the company. Lindner did agree to sell Worldvision to Spelling Productions for 50% of Spelling, Inc., the combined company, in 1988. The merger was finalized on March 1, 1989.
The company put its "Worldvision 3" movie package on the market at NAPTE in January 1993. Worldvision 3 was the first since Spelling Entertainment's acquisition of the Carolco library. Some of the movies in the package were Chaplin, Basic Instinct, L.A. Story, Rambling Rose, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Universal Soldier.
In August 1994, Worldvision's Spelling Premiere Network was launched. The network's initial years shows were Robin's Hoods, Heaven Help Us, and University Hospital, Heaven's mid-season replacement.
In 1994, Worldvision's home video division was folded into Republic Pictures's Home Video division after Spelling Entertainment's purchase of Republic in the same year.
When Spelling Entertainment Group merged with Viacom on May 26, 1999, Worldvision's operations were folded into Paramount Domestic Television. Today, the former Worldvision Enterprises productions are all owned by ViacomCBS thru CBS Television Distribution.
In December 2019, CBS Corporation and Viacom remerged into a single entity under the name ViacomCBS, which reunited the former Worldvision Enterprises assets.
Legal issues with World Vision International
The company's logo, as it appeared at the end of the programs it distributed, carried the following disclaimer: "Not affiliated with World Vision International, a religious and charitable organization." This was because, in the mid-1970s, the charity sued the company for its use of the "Worldvision" name, which eventually led to trademark infringement. They eventually settled, with Worldvision allowed to continue using the name for the syndication company, provided that a disclaimer was included to distance itself from World Vision International, which was implemented starting in 1974.
- "ABC Film Div. Is Now Indie Subsid. Corp". The Billboard: 10. April 3, 1954. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- "ABC Film Synd. Plans for Big 1956". Billboard. January 28, 1956. p. 8. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
- Ward, Richard Lewis (2006). A History of the Hal Roach Studios. SIU Press. p. 148. ISBN 0809388065. OCLC 607559067. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
- "Week's Headliners" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 16, 1959. p. 10. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- "Kevin O'Sullivan". Variety. January 13, 2006. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- "Worldvision Enterprises, Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (1983)". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
- Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing. pp. 191–192. ISBN 1570360421. OCLC 624399752.
- Adelson, Andrea (1988-07-26). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Spelling and Worldvision in Merger Pact". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-05-12.
- Interview with Aaron Spelling. Archive of American Television (November 18/24, 1999).
- "In Brief". Broadcasting: 89. 1989-10-02.
- Brown, Rich (January 25, 1993). West, Donald V. (ed.). "MOVIE PACKAGES STILL REELING THEM IN" (PDF). Broadcasting. 123 (4): 58. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Kleid, Beth (August 28, 1994). "Focus : Spelling Check : Mega-Producer's Latest Venture is His Own 'Network'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
- Kleid, Beth (November 21, 1994). "Morning Briefing: Television: Coming Attractions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 24, 2015.