ABC (American Broadcasting Company) Essay

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The  American  Broadcasting Company, which  is known  as ABC, and styled in its logo as abc since 1962,  is a trailblazer in the  history  of television networks with  its slogan  “The  only  place  to  be, ABC.” ABC is an American commercial  broadcast television network established  in the United States by Edward  John  Noble.  The principal  offices are located  in  the  General  Electric  Building  in  New York  City. It was founded  on October 12, 1943. The ABC is part of the Walt Disney Company. The Walt  Disney  Company,  known   as  Disney,  is  a popular American  enterprise   recognized  for  the quality   of  the   products  generated   by  its  film studio.  It is the largest  and  best-known studio  in Hollywood. The  ABC  is  the  fifth-oldest   major network in the world.

Origin

The Radio Corporation of America (now the RCA Corporation) is  the  major  American  electronics and  transmitting unit  of  General  Electric.  RCA, along   with   Westinghouse   Electric   Corporation and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T),  banded  together  to  establish the  National  Broadcasting Company (NBC),  an American   commercial   broadcast TV  and  radio network, in 1926  to  operate  a nationwide radio broadcasting network that  officially began  transmission  on  November   15.  In  early  1927,  NBC split into two separate  networks as a market  strategy. These networks were called the Red and Blue Networks. NBC  Red  was  committed   to  testing drama   series  in  the  major  cities,  whereas  NBC Blue was dedicated  to testing new programs, nonsponsored events, and those less important programs not served by NBC Red. These two networks soon  offered  radio  coverage  across  the nation. In 1934,  the Mutual Broadcasting System (an  American  radio  network in  operation from 1934 to 1999), the Columbia Broadcasting System (an American commercial broadcast television network that  started  as  a  radio  network and  is now  the  world’s  second-largest   major  network), and the NBC were the three broadcasting corporations that  controlled radio  transmissions in the United States.

Because  of  a  complaint registered  by  a  rival competitor, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Federal  Communications Commission (FCC), an autonomous office of the U.S. federal government that  regulates all interstate and foreign communications   by  radio,  television,  wire,  satellite,  and cable,  declared  in  1939  that  no  company  owns the  right  to  have  more  than  one  radio  network. In 1941, RCA authorized the sale of NBC Blue to Mark   Woods   as  appeals   for  divestiture   to  the FCC were rejected. The NBC Blue Network was then  changed  into  an  independent subsidiary  by RCA   in  1942.   In  1943,   NBC   sold   the   Blue Network, which was of lesser prominence, to Edward John Noble, an American broadcasting pioneer  and  chairman of  the  board   of  the  Life Savers Company from New York. Initially, Noble changed   the   name   of   the   Blue  Network  to American Broadcasting Company. Until December 1949,  Woods  was the president  and  chief executive officer of ABC. Before leaving ABC on June 30,  1951,  he  also  became  vice chairman of  the board.

Television  Entry

ABC slowly entered the world of commercial television  in 1948.  After  constructing five television stations,  ABC was able to discontinue leasing studio facilities but experienced difficulty in achieving success in the television industry  until it combined   with   the  United   Paramount  Pictures (UPT; the first and the most successful of the Hollywood  motion   picture   studios).   In  1951, Noble  was  approached by  Leonard   Goldenson, president  of UPT, to purchase ABC. But this proposition  was not possible until 1953  owing to lack of  approval by  the  FCC.  On  February  9,  1953, ABC was  sold  to  UPT for  $25  million,  and  the company name was changed to American Broadcasting–Paramount Theatres,  Inc. ABC signed  deals  with  Hollywood producers to  compete  with   the  quality   of  the  programs  of  the Columbia  Broadcasting System  and  NBC.  Walt Disney was the first of these producers.

At  the  close  of  1953,   Walt  Disney  and  his brother Roy  contacted Goldenson for  a  deal  to exchange  Disney’s production of a video  broadcast by allowing ABC to finance part of the Disneyland  project  they were planning.  The ABC network agreed  to  Disney’s terms.  In  1954,  the Disneyland  anthology series premiered  on  ABC, becoming a huge commercial  success and drawing in many big advertisers  and expanding its record of local partners. A partnership with Warner Brothers  also  helped  the  network to  gain  more profit  and  a good  many  successful programs like the popular Western  Maverick  (1957–62), the private  eye series 77 Sunset  Strip (1958–64), and others.  In  1955,  ABC also  launched  the  record label ABC–Paramount. A company  called World Vision Enterprises  for a broader overseas association  was  created  by ABC International in 1959. Life magazine in May 1961  criticized the public’s interest in such shows and the sponsors for supporting them at the expense of news programming.

Progression

On September  30, 1960,  The Flintstones,  a primetime  animated cartoon series, was  aired  by ABC. Initially,  it was broadcast in black-and-white and later in color. The Flintstones, with its huge ratings and  profits,  made ABC unique  in its presentation of  children’s  programs and  also  helped  the  network  change to a more family-oriented approach. In  1959,  the  Disney  company   purchased ABC’s shares  of Disneyland  for  $7.5  million.  The  ABC network also  developed  a unique  place  in sports programming  and   attained  success  through  its series Wide World  of Sports (1961–98), along with the  revolutionary weeknight  telecast  of National Football  League games in Monday Night  Football (1970–2005) and on its cable subsidiary  ESPN beginning  in  2006—all   under  the  leadership   of ABC Sports president  Roone Arledge.

ABC’s Golden Era

With the entry of its programming executive Fred Silverman  in 1975,  ABC’s golden  era had  begun. Many   successful   shows   like  The   Six   Million Dollar Man, Happy  Days, Three’s Company, Laverne and Shirley, and others were scheduled during  this period.  ABC was the first world-class network to hire a woman  (Barbara  Walters)  as its evening news anchor, bringing the company extensive  news   coverage.   The   current-events  series 20/20  (1978–  )  and  Nightline (1980–  )  further increased  ABC’s appeal. The Disney company acquired  ABC for $19 billion in 1995.

Bibliography:

  1. ABC-TV Network. http://abc.go.com (Accessed October 2014).
  2. Goldenson, Leonard Beating the Odds: The Untold Story Behind  the Rise of ABC: The Stars, Struggles, and Egos That Transformed Network Television  by the Man Who  Made It Happen.  New York: Scribner’s, 1991.
  3. Quinlan, Sterling. Inside ABC: American Broadcasting Company’s Rise to Power. New York: Hastings  House,
  4. Sugar, Bert Randolph. “The Thrill of Victory”: The Inside Story of ABC New York: Hawthorn, 1978.
  5. Williams, Huntington. Beyond Control: ABC  and the Fate of the Networks. New York: Athenaeum, 1989.

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