History of the Major Television Networks ABC Part 2

About the history of the major television network ABC or the American Broadcasting Company, behind the scenes of the network.



Behind the Tube: ABC-TV is owned by American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (board chairman, Leonard H. Goldenson). The corporation also owns ABC Radio, ABC Records, ABC Farm Publications, ABC Leisure Magazines, World Inc., ABC Scenic and Wildlife Attractions, and ABC Theatre Holdings, as well as five television affiliates in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Detroit.

Headquarters are at 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10019.

Sales executives have long been prominent in running the network. News executives appear to be more often products of television training than "first-generation newsmen" raised in print media.

ABC's headlong drive from the bottom to the top of the ratings has led to some fancy wheeling and dealing and a few no-holds-barred programming policies.

Since gaining first place, ABC executives have been busy seducing affiliates away from other networks.

Networks generally turn over less than one third of their advertising revenues to the affiliates, and ABC has promised more. The relationship between network and affiliate is not always an easy one.

"It's like that of two scorpions in battle," noted a network executive who specializes in affiliate relations. "Either we learn to live together or we sting each other to death."

Networks ask the affiliates to air at least eight hours a week of network programming, and the affiliates generally take that and more. But in recent years they have been picking and choosing a good deal during prime time, when the networks stand to lose heavy profits, and many networks complain about affiliates "censoring out" news shows and documentaries which are controversial or "offensive" to affiliate owners and their audiences.

The price of one minute of ABC prime-time advertising is soon expected to hit $125,000.

American Broadcasting Company's revenues increased from $1.3 billion in 1976 to about $1.6 billion in 1977. Earnings after taxes went from $71.7 million to $109.8 million.

ABC-TV was highly commended for being the only network to cover fully the epochal 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings. Their "murderous close-ups" led to McCarthy's downfall.

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