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  • Columbia Broadcasting System (1928–1995 en usage officiel)
  • Columbia Broadcasting System (1928–1995 in official usage)
  • Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System (1927-28)
  • Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System (1927–1928)
  • United Independent Broadcasters

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Columbia Broadcasting System (1927)

CBS Broadcasting Inc.

"America's Most Watched Network"

Type :  

  Summary  

CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of the company's logo. It has also been called the "Tiffany Network", which alludes to the perceived high quality of CBS programming during the tenure of its founder William S. Paley (1901–90).
It can also refer to some of CBS's first demonstrations of color television, which were held in a former Tiffany & Co. building in New York City in 1950, thus earning it the name "Color broadcasting system" back when such a feat was innovative.

The network has its origins in United Independent Broadcasters Inc., a collection of 16 radio stations that was bought by William S. Paley in 1928 and renamed the Columbia Broadcasting System. Under Paley's guidance, CBS would first become one of the largest radio networks in the United States and then one of the big three American broadcast television networks. In 1974, CBS dropped its full name and became known simply as CBS, Inc. The Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquired the network in 1995 and eventually adopted the name of the company it had bought to become CBS Corporation. In 2000, CBS came under the control of Viacom, which coincidentally had begun as a spin-off of CBS in 1971. In late 2005, Viacom split itself and reestablished CBS Corporation with the CBS television network at its core. CBS Corporation is controlled by Sumner Redstone through National Amusements, its parent.

  Biography  

  The radio years

The origins of CBS date back to January 21, 1927, with the creation of the "United Independent Broadcasters" network in Chicago by New York talent-agent Arthur Judson. The fledgling network soon needed additional investors though, and the Columbia Phonograph Company, manufacturers of Columbia Records, rescued it in April 1927; as a result, the network was renamed "Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System". Columbia Phonographic went on the air on September 18, 1927, with a presentation by the Howard Barlow Orchestra from flagship station WOR in Newark, New Jersey, and fifteen affiliates.

Operational costs were steep, particularly the payments to AT&T for use of its land lines, and by the end of 1927, Columbia Phonograph wanted out. In early 1928, Judson sold the network to brothers Isaac and Leon Levy, owners of the network's Philadelphia affiliate WCAU, and their partner Jerome Louchenheim. None of the three was interested in assuming day-to-day management of the network, so they installed wealthy 26-year-old William S. Paley, scion of a Philadelphia cigar family and in-law of the Levys, as president. With the record company out of the picture, Paley quickly streamlined the corporate name to "Columbia Broadcasting System." He believed in the power of radio advertising since his family's "La Palina" cigars had doubled their sales after young William convinced his elders to advertise on radio. By September 1928, Paley bought out the Louchenheim share of CBS and became its majority owner with 51% of the business.

Turnaround: Paley's first year

During Louchenheim's brief regime, Columbia paid $410,000 to A.H. Grebe's Atlantic Broadcasting Company for a small Brooklyn station, WABC, which would become the network's flagship station. WABC was quickly upgraded, and the signal relocated to a stronger frequency, 860 kHz. The physical plant was relocated also—to Steinway Hall on West 57th Street in Manhattan. It was where much of CBS's programming originated. Other owned-and-operated stations were KNX Los Angeles, KCBS San Francisco , WBBM Chicago, WCAU Philadelphia, WJSV Washington, D.C. , WWNY St. Louis, and WCCO Minneapolis. These remain the core affiliates of the CBS Radio Network today, with WCBS still the flagship, and all except WTOP and WFED owned by CBS Radio. By the turn of 1929, the network could boast to sponsors of having 47 affiliates.

Paley moved right away to put his network on a firmer financial footing. In the fall of 1928, he entered into talks with Adolph Zukor of Paramount Pictures who planned to move into radio in response to RCA's forays into motion pictures with the advent of talkies. The deal came to fruition in September 1929: Paramount got 49 percent of CBS in return for a block of its stock worth $3,800,000 at the time. The agreement specified that Paramount would buy that same stock back by March 1, 1932 for a flat $5,000,000, provided CBS had earned $2,000,000 during 1931 and 1932. For a brief time there was talk that the network might be renamed "Paramount Radio", but it only lasted a month—the 1929 stock market crash sent all stock value tumbling. It galvanized Paley and his troops, though: they "had no alternative but to turn the network around and earn the $2,000,000 in two years.... This is the atmosphere in which the CBS of today was born." The near-bankrupt movie studio sold its CBS shares back to CBS in 1932; Paramount was in trouble, CBS was not. Tom Cochrane

In the first year of Paley's watch, CBS's gross earnings more than tripled, going from $1,400,000 to $4,700,000.

Much of the increase was a result of Paley's second upgrade to the CBS business plan—improved affiliate relations. There were two types of program at the time: sponsored and sustaining, i.e., unsponsored. Rival NBC paid affiliates for every sponsored show they carried and charged them for every sustaining show they ran. It was onerous for small and medium stations, and resulted in both unhappy affiliates and limited carriage of sustaining programs. Paley had a different idea, designed to get CBS programs emanating from as many radio sets as possible: he would give the sustaining programs away for free, provided the station would run every sponsored show, and accept CBS's check for doing so. CBS soon had more affiliates than either NBC Red or NBC Blue.

Paley was a man who valued style and taste, and in 1929, once he had his affiliates happy and his company's creditworthiness on the mend, he relocated his concern to sleek, new 485 Madison Avenue, the "heart of the advertising community, right where Paley wanted his company to be" and where CBS would stay until its move to Black Rock in 1965. When his new landlords expressed skepticism about the network and its fly-by-night reputation, Paley overcame their qualms by purchasing a lease for $1,500,000.

1930s: CBS takes on the Red and the Blue

Since NBC was the broadcast arm of radio set manufacturer RCA, its chief David Sarnoff approached his decisions as both a broadcaster and as a hardware executive; NBC's affiliates had the latest RCA equipment, and were often the best-established stations, or were on "clear channel" frequencies. Yet Sarnoff's affiliates were mistrustful of him. Paley had no such split loyalties: his—and his affiliates'—success rose and fell with the quality of CBS programming.

Paley had an innate, pitch-perfect, sense of entertainment, "a gift of the gods, an ear totally pure," wrote David Halberstam. "e knew what was good and would sell, what was bad and would sell, and what was good and would not sell, and he never confused one with another." As the 1930s loomed, Paley set about building the CBS talent stable. The network became the home of many popular musical and comedy stars, among them Jack Benny, ("Your Canada Dry Humorist"), Al Jolson, George Burns & Gracie Allen, and Kate Smith, whom Paley personally selected for his family's La Palina Hour because she was not the type of woman to provoke jealousy in American wives. When, on a mid-ocean voyage, Paley heard a phonograph record of a young unknown crooner, he rushed to the ship's radio room and "cabled" New York to sign Bing Crosby immediately to a contract for a daily radio show.

While the CBS prime-time lineup featured music, comedy and variety shows, the daytime schedule was a direct conduit into American homes—and into the hearts and minds of American women; for many, it was the bulk of their adult human contact during the course of the day. CBS time salesmen recognized early on that this intimate connection could be a bonanza for advertisers of female-interest products. Starting in 1930, astrologer Evangeline Adams would consult the heavens on behalf of listeners who sent in their birthdays, a description of their problems—and a box-top from sponsor Forhan's toothpaste. The low-key murmuring of smooth-voiced Tony Wons, backed by a tender violin, "made him a soul mate to millions of women" on behalf of the R. J. Reynolds tobacco company, whose cellophane-wrapped Camel cigarettes were "as fresh as the dew that dawn spills on a field of clover." The most popular radio-friend of all was M. Sayle Taylor, The Voice Of Experience, though his name was never uttered on air. Women mailed descriptions of the most intimate of relationship problems to The Voice in the tens of thousands per week; sponsors Musterole ointment and Haley's M–O laxative enjoyed sales increases of several hundred percent in just the first month on The Voice Of Experience.

As the decade progressed, a new genre joined the daytime lineup: serial dramas—soap operas, so named for the products that sponsored them, by way of the ad agencies that actually produced them. Although the form, usually in quarter-hour episodes, proliferated widely in the middle and late 1930s, they all had the same basic premise: that characters "fell into two categories: 1) those in trouble and 2) those who helped people in trouble. The helping-hand figures were usually older." At CBS, Just Plain Bill brought human insight and Anacin pain reliever into households; Your Family and Mine came courtesy of Sealtest Dairy products; Bachelor's Children first hawked Old Dutch Cleanser, then Wonder Bread; Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories was sponsored by Spry Vegetable Shortening. Our Gal Sunday , The Romance of Helen Trent (Angélus cosmetics), Big Sister and many others filled the daytime ether.

Thanks to its daytime and primetime schedules, CBS prospered in the 1930s. In 1935, gross sales were $19,300,000, yielding a profit of $2,270,000. By 1937, the network took in $28,700,000 and had 114 affiliates, almost all of which cleared 100% of network-fed programming, thus keeping ratings, and revenue, high. In 1938, CBS even acquired the American Record Corporation, parent of its onetime investor Columbia Records.

In 1938, NBC and CBS each opened studios in Hollywood to attract movieland's top talent to their networks – NBC at Radio City on Sunset and Vine, CBS two blocks away at Columbia Square.

CBS launches an independent news division
The extraordinary potential of radio news showed itself in 1930, when CBS suddenly found itself with a live telephone connection to a prisoner called "The Deacon" who described, from the inside and in real time, a riot and conflagration at the Ohio State Penitentiary; for CBS, it was "a shocking journalistic coup." Yet as late as 1934, there was still no regularly scheduled newscast on network radio: "Most sponsors did not want network news programming; those that did were inclined to expect veto rights over it." There had been a longstanding wariness between radio and the newspapers as well; the papers had rightly concluded that the upstart radio business would compete with them on two counts—advertising dollars and news coverage. By 1933, they fought back, many no longer publishing radio schedules for readers' convenience, or allowing "their" news to be read on the air for radio's profit. Radio, in turn, pushed back when urban department stores, newspapers' largest advertisers and themselves owners of many radio stations, threatened to withhold their ads from print. A short-lived attempted truce in 1933 even saw the papers proposing that radio be forbidden from running news before 9:30 am, and then only after 9:00 pm—and that no news story could air until it was twelve hours old.

It was in this climate that Paley set out to "enhance the prestige of CBS, to make it seem in the public mind the more advanced, dignified and socially aware network." He did it through sustaining programming like the New York Philharmonic, the thoughtful drama of Norman Corwin—and an in-house news division to gather and present news, free of fickle suppliers like newspapers and wire services. In the fall of 1934, CBS launched its independent news division, shaped in its first years by Paley's vice-president, former The New York Times man Ed Klauber, and news director Paul White. Since there was no blueprint or precedent for real-time news coverage, early efforts of the new division used the short-wave link-up CBS had been using for five years to bring live feeds of European events to its American air.

A key early hire was Edward R. Murrow in 1935; his first corporate title was Director of Talks. He was mentored in microphone technique by Robert Trout, the lone full-timer of the News Division, and quickly found himself in a growing rivalry with boss White. Murrow was glad to "leave the hothouse atmosphere of the New York office behind" when he was dispatched to London as CBS's European Director in 1937, a time when the growing Hitler menace underscored the need for a robust European Bureau. Halberstam described Murrow in London as "the right man in the right place in the right era." Murrow began assembling the staff of broadcast journalists—including William L. Shirer, Charles Collingwood and Eric Sevareid—who would become known as "Murrow's Boys". They were "in [Murrow's] own image, sartorially impeccable, literate, often liberal, and prima donnas all." They covered history in the making, and sometimes made it themselves: on March 12, 1938, Hitler boldly annexed nearby Austria and Murrow and Boys quickly assembled coverage with Shirer in London, Edgar Ansel Mowrer in Paris, Pierre Huss in Berlin, Frank Gervasi in Rome and Trout in New York. The News Round-Up format was born and is still ubiquitous today in broadcast news.

Murrow's nightly reports from the rooftops during the dark days of the London Blitz galvanized American listeners: even before Pearl Harbor, the conflict became "the story of the survival of Western civilization, the most heroic of all possible wars and stories. He was indeed reporting on the survival of the English-speaking peoples." With his "manly, tormented voice," Murrow contained and mastered the panic and danger he felt, thereby communicating it all the more effectively to his audience. Using his trademark self-reference "This reporter", he did not so much report news as interpret it, combining simplicity of expression with subtlety of nuance. Murrow himself said he tried "to describe things in terms that make sense to the truck driver without insulting the intelligence of the professor." When he returned home for a visit late in 1941, Paley threw an "extraordinarily elaborate reception" for him at the Waldorf-Astoria. Of course, its goal was more than just honoring CBS's latest "star"—it was an announcement to the world that Mr. Paley's network was finally more than just a pipeline carrying other people's programming: it was now a cultural force in its own right.

Once the war was over and Murrow returned for good, it was as "a superstar with prestige and freedom and respect within his profession and within his company." He possessed enormous capital within that company, and as the unknown form of television news loomed large, he would spend it freely, first in radio news, then in television, taking on Senator Joseph McCarthy first, then eventually William S. Paley himself, and with a foe that formidable, even the vast Murrow account would soon run dry.

Panic: The War of the Worlds radio broadcast

On October 30, 1938, CBS gained a taste of infamy when Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds. Its unique format, a contemporary version of the story in the form of faux news broadcasts, had many CBS listeners panicked into believing invaders from Mars were actually devastating Grover's Mill, New Jersey, despite three disclaimers during the broadcast that it was a work of fiction. The flood of publicity after the broadcast had two effects: an FCC ban on faux news bulletins within dramatic programming, and sponsorship for Mercury Theatre on the Air—the former sustaining program became The Campbell Playhouse to sell soup. Welles, for his part, summarized the episode as "the Mercury Theater's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying 'Boo!'"

CBS recruits Edmund A. Chester
Before the onset of World War II, CBS recruited Edmund A. Chester from his position as Bureau Chief for Latin America at Associated Press to serve as Director of Latin American Relations and Director of Short Wave Broadcasts for the CBS radio network . In this capacity, Mr. Chester coordinated the development of the Network of the Americas with the Department of State, the Office for Inter-American Affairs and Voice of America. This network provided vital news and cultural programming throughout South America and Central America during the crucial World War II era and fostered diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the less developed nations of the continent. It featured such popular radio broadcasts as Viva América which showcased leading musical talent from both North and South America accompanied by the CBS Pan American Orchestra under the musical direction of Alfredo Antonini. The post war era also marked the beginning of CBS's dominance in the field of radio as well.

1940s: Zenith of network radio
As 1939 wound down, Bill Paley announced that 1940 would "be the greatest year in the history of radio in the United States." He was right—times ten: the decade of the 1940s would indeed be the apogee of network radio by every gauge. Nearly 100% of 1939's advertisers renewed their contracts for 1940; manufacturers of farm tractors made radios standard equipment on their machines. Wartime rationing of paper limited the size of newspapers—and hence advertisers—and when papers turned them away, they migrated to radio sponsorship. A 1942 act of Congress made advertising expenses a tax benefit and that sent even automobile and tire manufacturers—who had no products to sell since they had been converted to war production—scurrying to sponsor symphony orchestras and serious drama on radio. In 1940, only one-third of radio programs were sponsored, while two-thirds were sustaining; by mid-decade, the statistics had swapped—now two out of three shows had cash-paying sponsors and only one-third were sustaining.

The CBS of the 1940s was vastly different from that of the early days; many of the old guard veterans had died, retired or moved on. No change was greater than that in Paley himself: he had become difficult to work for, and had "gradually shifted from leader to despot." He spent much of his time seeking social connections and in cultural pursuits; his "hope was that CBS could somehow learn to run itself." His brief to an interior designer remodeling his townhouse included a requirement for closets that would accommodate three hundred suits, one hundred shirts and had special racks for a hundred neckties.


As Paley grew more remote, he installed a series of buffer executives who sequentially assumed more and more power at CBS: first Ed Klauber, then Paul Kesten, and finally Frank Stanton. Second only to Paley as the author of CBS's style and ambitions in its first half-century, Stanton was "a magnificent mandarin who functioned as company superintendent, spokesman, and image-maker." He had come to the network in 1933 after sending copies of his PhD thesis "A Critique Of Present Methods and a New Plan for Studying Radio Listening Behavior" to CBS top brass and they responded with a job. He scored an early hit with his study "Memory for Advertising Copy Presented Visually vs. Orally" which CBS salesmen used to great effect bringing in new sponsors. In 1946 Paley named Stanton President of CBS and promoted himself to Chairman. Stanton's colorful, but impeccable, wardrobe—slate-blue pinstripe suit, ecru shirt, robin's egg blue necktie with splashes of saffron—made him, in the mind of one sardonic CBS vice-president, "the greatest argument we have for color television."

Despite the influx of advertisers and their cash, or perhaps because of them, the 1940s were not without bumps for the radio networks. The biggest challenge came in the form of the FCC's chain broadcasting investigation—the "monopoly probe", as it was often called. Though started in 1938, it only gathered steam in 1940 under new-broom chairman James L. Fly. By the time the smoke had cleared in 1943, NBC found itself shorn of its Blue network, which became ABC. CBS was also hit, though not as severely: Paley's brilliant 1928 affiliate contract which had given CBS first claim on local stations' air during sponsored time—the network option—came under attack as being restrictive to local programming. The final compromise permitted the network option for three out of four hours during certain dayparts, but the new regulations had virtually no practical effect, since most all stations accepted the network feed, especially the sponsored hours that earned them money. Fly's panel also forbade networks from owning artists' representation bureaus, so CBS sold its bureau to Music Corporation of America and it became Management Corporation of America.


On the air, the war had an impact on most every show. Variety shows wove patriotism through their comedy and music segments; dramas and soaps had characters join the service and go off to fight. Even before hostilities commenced in Europe, one of the most played songs on radio was Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", popularized by CBS's own Kate Smith. Although an Office of Censorship sprang up within days of Pearl Harbor, censorship would be totally voluntary. A few shows submitted scripts for review; most did not. The guidelines that the Office did issue banned weather reports, including announcement of sports rainouts, news about troop, ship or plane movements, war production and live man-on-the-street interviews. The ban on ad-libbing caused quizzes, game shows and amateur hours to wither for the duration.

Surprising was "the granite permanence" of the shows at the top of the ratings. The vaudevillians and musicians who were huge after the war were the same stars who had been huge in the 30s: Benny, Crosby, Burns and Allen, Edgar Bergen all had been on the radio almost as long as there had been network radio. A notable exception to this was relative newcomer Arthur Godfrey who, as late as 1942, was still doing a local morning show in Washington, D.C. Godfrey, who had been a cemetery-lot salesman and a cab driver, pioneered the style of talking directly to the listener as an individual, with a singular "you" rather than phrases like "Now, folks..." or "Yes, friends...". His combined shows contributed as much as 12% of all CBS revenues; by 1948, he was pulling down a half-million dollars a year.

In 1947, Paley, still the undisputed "head talent scout" of CBS, led a much-publicized "talent raid" on NBC. One day, while Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were hard at work at NBC writing their venerable Amos and Andy show, a knock came on the door; it was Paley himself, with an astonishing offer: "Whatever you are getting now I will give you twice as much." Capturing NBC's cornerstone show was coup enough, but Paley repeated in 1948 with longtime NBCers Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and Red Skelton, as well as former CBS defectors Jack Benny, radio's top-rated comedian, and Burns and Allen. Paley achieved this rout with a legal agreement reminiscent of his 1928 contract that caused some NBC station affiliates to jump ship and join CBS: CBS would buy the stars' names as a property, in exchange for a large lump sum and a salary. The plan relied on the vastly different tax rates between income and capital gains, so not only would the stars enjoy more than twice their income after taxes, but CBS would preclude any NBC counterattack because CBS owned the performers' names.

As a result of this sortie, Paley got in 1949 something he had sought for twenty years: CBS finally beat NBC in the ratings.

But it wasn't just to one-up rival Sarnoff that Paley led his talent raid; he, and all of radio, had their eye on the coming force that threw a shadow over radio throughout the 1940s—television.

1950s: Prime time radio gives way to television
In the spring of 1940, CBS staff engineer Peter Goldmark devised a system for color television that CBS management hoped would leapfrog the network over NBC and its existing black-and-white RCA system. The CBS system "gave brilliant and stable colors," while NBC's was "crude and unstable but 'compatible.'" Ultimately, the FCC rejected the CBS system because it was incompatible with RCA's; that, and the fact that CBS had moved to secure many UHF, not VHF, TV licenses, left CBS flatfooted in the early television age. In 1946, only 6,000 TV sets were in operation, all in greater New York; by 1949, the number was 3,000,000, and by 1951, 12,000,000. Sixty-four American cities had TV stations, though most of them only had one.

Radio continued to be the backbone of the company, at least in the early 1950s, but it was "a strange, twilight period." NBC's venerable Fred Allen saw his ratings plummet when he was pitted against upstart ABC's game show Stop The Music!; within weeks, he was dropped by longtime sponsor Ford Motor Company and was shortly gone from the scene. Radio powerhouse Bob Hope's ratings plunged from 23.8 in 1949 to 5.4 in 1953. By 1952, "death seemed imminent for network radio" in its familiar form; most telling of all, the big sponsors were eager for the switch.

Gradually, as the television network took shape, radio stars began to migrate to the new medium. Many programs ran on both media while making the transition. The radio soap opera The Guiding Light moved to television in 1952 and ran another fifty-seven years; Burns & Allen, back "home" from NBC, made the move in 1950; Lucille Ball a year later; Our Miss Brooks in 1952 . The high-rated Jack Benny Program ended its radio run in 1955, and Edgar Bergen's Sunday-night show went off the air in 1957. When CBS announced in 1956 that its radio operations had lost money, while the television network had made money, it was clear where the future lay. When the soap opera Ma Perkins went off the air November 25, 1960 only eight, relatively minor series remained. Prime time radio ended on September 30, 1962, when Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense aired for the final time.

CBS's radio programming after 1972
The retirement of Arthur Godfrey in April 1972 marked the end of the longform program on CBS radio; programming thereafter consisted of hourly news summaries and news features, known in the 1970s as Dimension, and commentaries, including the Spectrum series that evolved into the "Point/Counterpoint" feature on the television network's 60 Minutes and First Line Report, a news and analysis feature delivered by CBS correspondents. The network also continued to offer traditional radio programming through its nightly CBS Radio Mystery Theater, the lone holdout of old-style programming, from 1974 through 1982. The CBS Radio Network continues to this day, offering hourly newscasts, including its centerpiece CBS World News Roundup in the morning and evening, weekend sister program CBS News Weekend Roundup, the news-related feature segment The Osgood File, What's In the News, a one-minute summary of one story, and various other segments such as commentary from Seattle radio personality Dave Ross, tip segments from various other sources, and technology coverage from CBS Interactive property CNET. It is the last of the Big Four radio networks to be an autonomous company; ABC was broken up in 2007 while Mutual and NBC were bought by Westwood One in the 1980s .

  The television years: expansion and growth
CBS's first television broadcasts were experimental, often only for one hour a day, and reaching a limited area in and around New York City (over station W2XAB channel 2, later called WCBW and finally WCBS-TV). To catch up with rival RCA, CBS bought Hytron Laboratories in 1939, and immediately moved into set production and television broadcasting. Though there were many competing patents and systems, RCA dictated the content of the FCC's technical standards, and grabbed the spotlight from CBS, DuMont and others by introducing television to the general public at the 1939 New York World's Fair. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations on July 1, 1941; the first license went to RCA and NBC's WNBT ; the second license, issued that same day, was to WCBW, . CBS-Hytron offered a practical color system in 1941, but it was not compatible with the black-and-white standards set down by RCA. In time, and after considerable dithering, the FCC rejected CBS's technology in favor of that by RCA.

During the World War II years, commercial television broadcasting was reduced dramatically. Toward the end of the war, commercial television began to ramp up again, with an increased level of programming evident in the 1945–1947 period on the three New York television stations which operated in those years But as RCA and DuMont raced to establish networks and offer upgraded programming, CBS lagged, advocating an industry-wide shift and re-start to UHF for their incompatible color system. Only in 1950, when NBC was dominant in television and black and white transmission was widespread, did CBS begin to buy or build their own stations in Los Angeles, Chicago and other major cities. Up to that point, CBS programming was seen on such stations as KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles, which CBS—as a bit of insurance and to guarantee program clearance in Los Angeles—quickly purchased a 50% interest in, partnering with the Los Angeles Times newspaper. CBS then sold their interest in KTTV and purchased outright Los Angeles pioneer station KTSL in 1950, renaming it KNXT (after CBS's existing Los Angeles radio property, KNX), later to become KCBS-TV. The "talent raid" on NBC of the mid-forties had brought over established radio stars; they now became stars of CBS television as well. One reluctant CBS star refused to bring her radio show, "My Favorite Husband", to television unless the network would re-cast the show with her real-life husband in the lead. Paley and network president Frank Stanton had so little faith in the future of Lucille Ball's series, re-dubbed I Love Lucy, that they granted her wish and allowed the husband, Desi Arnaz, to take financial control of the production. This was the making of the Ball-Arnaz Desilu empire, and became the template for series production to this day.

In the late 1940s, CBS offered the first live television coverage of the proceedings of the United Nations General Assembly . This journalistic tour-de-force was under the direction of Edmund A. Chester, who was appointed to the post of Director for News, Special Events and Sports at CBS Television in 1948.

As television came to the forefront of American entertainment and information, CBS dominated television as it once had radio. In 1953, the CBS television network would make its first profit, and would maintain dominance on television between the years 1955 and 1976 as well By the late 1950s, the network often controlled seven or eight of the slots on the "top ten" ratings list with well-respected shows like Route 66. This success would continue for many years, with CBS bumped from first place only by the rise of ABC in the mid-1970s. Perhaps because of its status as the top-rated network, during the late 1960s and early 1970s CBS felt freer to gamble with controversial properties like the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and All in the Family and its many spinoffs during this period.

One of CBS's most popular shows at that time was M*A*S*H, a dramedy based on the hit Robert Altman film. It ran from 1972–1983, and was set, like the film, during the Korean War in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. The final episode aired on February 28, 1983 and was 2½ hours long. It was viewed by nearly 106 million Americans (77% of viewership that night) which established it as the most watched episode in United States television history, a record which stood until the broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, also on CBS.

Color telecasts (1953–1965)
Although CBS-TV was the first with a working color television system, they lost out to RCA in 1953, due in part because the CBS color system was incompatible with existing black-and-white sets. Although RCA, then-parent company of NBC, made its color system available to CBS, the network was not interested in boosting RCA's profits and televised only a few specials in color for the rest of the decade. The specials included the Ford Star Jubilee programs (which included the first telecast ever of MGM's 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz). Other specials were also shown: the 1957 telecast of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cole Porter's musical version of Aladdin, and Playhouse 90's only color broadcast, the 1958 production of The Nutcracker, featuring choreography by George Balanchine. This telecast was based on the famous production staged annually since 1954 in New York, and performed by the New York City Ballet. CBS would later show two other versions of the ballet, a semi-forgotten one-hour German-American version hosted by Eddie Albert ,shown annually for three years beginning in 1965, and the well-loved Baryshnikov production from 1977 to 1981.

Beginning in 1959, The Wizard of Oz, now telecast by CBS as a family special in its own right , became an annual tradition on color TV.
However, it was the success of NBC's 1955 telecast of the musical Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin, the most watched television special of its time, that inspired CBS to telecast The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella and Aladdin.

= 1960–1967
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From 1960 to 1965, CBS-TV limited its color transmissions to only a few specials such as The Wizard of Oz, and only then if the sponsor would pay for it. Red Skelton was the first CBS host to telecast his weekly programs in color, using a converted movie studio, in the early 1960s; he tried unsuccessfully to persuade the network to use his facility for other programs, then was forced to sell it. Color was being pushed hard by rival NBC. Even ABC had several color programs, beginning in the fall of 1962, but those were limited because of the network's financial and technical situations. One famous CBS-TV special made during this era was the Charles Collingwood-hosted tour of the White House with First Lady Jackie Kennedy. It was, however, shown in black-and-white. Beginning in 1963, at least one CBS show, The Lucy Show, began filming in color at its star and producer Lucille Ball's insistence; she realized that color episodes would command more money when they were eventually sold into syndication, but even it was broadcast in black and white through the end of the 1964–65 season. This would all change by the mid-1960s, when market pressure forced CBS-TV to add color programs to the regular schedule for the 1965–66 season and complete the changeover during the 1966–67 season. By the fall of 1967, nearly all of CBS's TV programs were in color, as were NBC's and ABC's. A notable exception was Twentieth Century, which consisted mostly of newsreel archival footage, though even this program used at least some color footage by the late 1960s.

In 1965, CBS telecast a new color version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. This version, starring Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon in the roles formerly played by Julie Andrews and Jon Cypher, was shot on videotape rather than being telecast live, and would become an annual tradition for the next nine years.

In 1967, NBC outbid CBS for the rights to the annual telecast of The Wizard of Oz and the film moved to NBC. However, the network quickly realized their mistake in allowing what was then one of its prime ratings winners to be acquired by another network, and by 1976, the film was back on CBS, where it remained through the end of 1997. CBS showed it twice in 1991, in March and again the night before Thanksgiving. Thereafter, it was shown the night before Thanksgiving.

1971–86: The "Rural purge" and success in the 1970s

By the end of the 1960s, CBS was broadcasting virtually all of its schedule in color, but many of its shows were appealing more to older and more rural audiences and less to the young, urban and more affluent audiences that advertisers sought to target. Fred Silverman made the decision to cancel most of those otherwise hit shows by mid-1971 in what became colloquially referred to as the "Rural Purge", with Green Acres star Pat Buttram remarking that the network cancelled "anything with a tree in it."

While the "rural" shows got the axe, new hits, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Bob Newhart Show, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Kojak and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour took their place and kept CBS at the top of the ratings through the early '70s. The majority of these hits were overseen by then East Coast vice president Alan Wagner. Also, 60 Minutes moved to 7 pm ET on Sundays in 1976 and became an unexpected hit.

Silverman also first developed his strategy of spinning new shows off an established hit while at CBS, with Rhoda and Phyllis spun from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude and The Jeffersons spun from All in the Family and Good Times from Maude.

After Silverman's departure, CBS dropped behind ABC in the 1976–77 season, but still rated strongly, based on its earlier hits and some new ones: One Day at a Time, Alice, WKRP in Cincinnati, The Dukes of Hazzard (suspiciously "rural") and, the biggest hit of the early '80s, Dallas.

By 1982, ABC had run out of steam, NBC was in dire straits with many failed programming efforts greenlighted by Silverman during his 1978 to 1981 tenure there, and CBS once more nosed ahead, courtesy of Dallas (and its spin-off Knots Landing), Falcon Crest, Magnum, P.I., Simon & Simon and 60 Minutes. CBS also broadcast the popular NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament every March beginning in 1982 . There were a few new hits – Kate & Allie, Newhart, Cagney & Lacey, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Murder, She Wrote – but the resurgence was short-lived. CBS had gone deeply into debt as a result of the failed effort by Ted Turner to take control over CBS. The battle was headed by CBS chairman Thomas Wyman. CBS sold its St. Louis station KMOX-TV and allowed the purchase of a large portion of its shares by Loew’s Inc. chairman Lawrence Tisch. Consequently, collaboration between Paley and Tisch led to the slow dismissal of Wyman, Tisch becoming chief operating officer, and Paley returning as chairman.

1986–2002: Tiffany Network in distress
In 1984, The Cosby Show and Miami Vice debuted on NBC and grabbed high ratings immediately, bringing that network back to first place by the 1985–1986 season along with other huge hits Family Ties, The Golden Girls, LA Law, and 227. ABC had in turn also rebounded with hits like Dynasty, Who's the Boss?, Hotel, and Growing Pains. By the 1988–1989 season, CBS had fallen to third place behind both ABC and NBC, and had some major rebuilding to do.

Ironically, some of the groundwork had been laid as the network fell in the ratings, with hits Simon & Simon, Falcon Crest, Murder, She Wrote, Kate & Allie and Newhart still on the schedule from the most recent resurgence, and future hits Designing Women, Murphy Brown, Jake and the Fatman, and 48 Hours having recently debuted. Plus, CBS was still getting decent ratings from 60 Minutes, Dallas and Knots Landing. But the ratings for Dallas were a far cry from what they were in the early 1980s. During the early 1990s, the network would bolster its sports lineup by adding Major League Baseball telecasts and the Winter Olympics.

Under network president Jeff Sagansky, the network was able to get strong ratings from new shows Spliced, Touched by an Angel, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Walker, Texas Ranger, and a resurgent Jake and the Fatman during this period, and CBS was able to reclaim the first place crown briefly, in the 1992–1993 season, though its demographics skewed older than ABC, NBC or even Fox, with its relatively limited presence at that time. In 1993, the network made a breakthrough in establishing a successful late night talk show franchise to compete with NBC's Tonight Show when it signed David Letterman away from NBC after the Late Night host was passed over as Johnny Carson's successor on Tonight in favor of Jay Leno. However, CBS' would soon suffer a major blow in a move that would change American television forever.

In 1993, the fledgling Fox network outbid CBS for the rights to air the National Football League, resulting in several stations switching to Fox. The loss of the NFL, along with an ill-fated effort to court younger viewers, led to a drop in CBS' ratings. The network also dropped its MLB coverage (after losing approximately US$500 million over a four year span) in 1993 and NBC, which already aired the Summer Olympics, took over coverage of the Winter Olympics beginning with the 2002 Games.

Still, CBS was able to produce some hits, such as Cosby, The Nanny, and Everybody Loves Raymond, and would regain the NFL in 1998.

2002–present: Return to top spot, rivalry with Fox
Another turning point for CBS came in the summer of 2000 when it debuted the summer reality shows Survivor, and Big Brother which became surprise summer hits for the network. In January 2001, CBS debuted the second season of the show after its airing of the Super Bowl and scheduled it Thursdays at 8 pm ET, and moved the police procedural CSI to Thursdays at 9 pm ET and was both able to chip away at and eventually beat NBC's Thursday night lineup, and attract younger viewers to the network.

CBS has had additional successes with police procedurals Cold Case, Without a Trace, Criminal Minds, NCIS, and The Mentalist, along with CSI spinoffs CSI: Miami and CSI: NY, and sitcoms Everybody Loves Raymond, The King of Queens, Mike & Molly, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and The New Adventures of Old Christine.

During the 2007–08 season, Fox ranked as the top-rated network, primarily due to its reliance on American Idol. However, according to Nielsen, CBS has ended up as the top-rated network every season since then. The two tend to nearly equal one another in the 18–34, 18–49, and 25–54 demographics, although Fox typically wins these by the narrowest of margins.

  The conglomerate
During the 1960s, CBS began an effort to diversify, and looked for suitable investments. In 1965, it acquired electric guitar maker Fender from Leo Fender, who agreed to sell his company due to health problems. The purchase also included that of Rhodes electric pianos, which had already been acquired by Fender. This and other acquisitions led to a restructuring of the corporation into various operating groups and divisions; the quality of the products coming out of these acquired companies was extremely lower, hence the term "pre-CBS" and "CBS" .

In other diversification attempts, CBS would buy sports teams , book and magazine publishers (Fawcett Publications including Woman's Day, and Holt, Rinehart and Winston), map-makers, toy manufacturers , and other properties.

As William Paley aged, he tried to find the one person who could follow in his footsteps. However, numerous successors-in-waiting came and went. By the mid-1980s, the investor Laurence Tisch had begun to acquire substantial holdings in CBS. Eventually he gained Paley's confidence, and with his support took control of CBS in 1986.

Tisch's sole interest was turning profits. When CBS faltered, under-performing units were given the axe. Among the first properties to go was the Columbia Records group, which had been part of the company since 1938. Tisch also shut down in 1986 the CBS Technology Center in Stamford, which had started in New York City in the 1930s as CBS Laboratories and evolved to be the company's technology Research and development unit.

Columbia Records

Columbia Records was a record label owned by CBS since 1938. In 1962, CBS launched CBS Records to market Columbia recordings outside North America, where the Columbia name was controlled by others. In 1966, CBS Records was made a separate subsidiary of Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. CBS sold the CBS Records Group to the Japanese conglomerate Sony in 1988 initiating the Japanese buying spree of US companies that continued into the 1990s. The record label company was re-christened Sony Music Entertainment in 1991, as Sony had a short term license on the CBS name.

Sony purchased from EMI its rights to the Columbia Records name outside the US, Canada, Spain and Japan. Sony now uses Columbia Records as a label name in all countries except Japan, where Sony Records remains their flagship label. Sony acquired the Spanish rights when Sony Music merged with Bertelsmann subsidiary BMG in 2004 as Sony BMG, co-owned by Sony and Bertelsmann. Sony bought out BMG's share in 2008.

CBS Corporation revived CBS Records in 2006.

Publishing
CBS entered the publishing business in 1967 by acquiring Holt, Rinehart & Winston, who published trade books, textbooks, and the magazine Field & Stream. The next year, CBS added the medical publisher Saunders to Holt, Rinehart & Winston. In 1971, CBS acquired Bond/Parkhurst, the publisher of Road & Track and Cycle World.

CBS greatly expanded its magazine business by purchasing Fawcett Publications in 1974, bringing in such magazines as Woman's Day. It acquired the majority of the Ziff Davis publications in 1984.

CBS sold its book publishing businesses in 1985. The educational publishing division, which retained the name Holt, Rinehart & Winston, was sold to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; the trade book division, renamed Henry Holt and Company, was sold to the West German publisher Holtzbrinck.

CBS exited the magazine business by selling the unit to its executive Peter Diamandis. Diamandis sold the magazines to Hachette Filipacchi Médias in 1988, forming Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.

CBS Musical Instruments division
Forming the CBS Musical Instruments division, the company also acquired Steinway pianos, Gemeinhardt flutes, Lyon & Healy harps, Rodgers organs, Gulbransen home organs, Electro-Music Inc. , and Rogers Drums. The last musical purchase was the 1981 acquisition of the assets of then-bankrupt ARP Instruments, developer of electronic synthesizers.

Between 1965 and 1985 the quality of Fender guitars and amplifiers declined significantly. Encouraged by outraged Fender fans, CBS Musical Instruments division executives executed a leveraged buyout in 1985 and created FMIC, the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation. At the same time, CBS divested itself of Rodgers, along with Steinway and Gemeinhardt, all of which were purchased by Steinway Musical Properties. The other musical instruments properties were also liquidated.

Film production

CBS made a brief, unsuccessful move into film production in the late 1960s, creating Cinema Center Films. This profit-free unit was shut down in 1972; today the distribution rights to the Cinema Center library rest with Paramount Pictures for home video and theatrical release, and with CBS Paramount Television for TV distribution . It released such films as The Reivers , starring Steve McQueen, and the musical Scrooge , starring Albert Finney.

Yet ten years later, in 1982, CBS took another try at Hollywood, in a joint venture with Columbia Pictures and HBO called TriStar Pictures. Despite releasing such box office successes as The Natural, Places in the Heart, and Rambo: First Blood Part II, CBS felt the studio was not making a profit and in 1985, sold its stake in TriStar to The Coca-Cola Company, Columbia Pictures' owner at the time.

In 2007, CBS Corp. announced its desire to get back into the feature film business slowly launching CBS Films and hiring key executives in the Spring of 2008 to startup the new venture. The name CBS Films was actually used once before in 1953 when the name was briefly used for CBS's distributor of off-network and first-run syndicated programming to local TV stations in the United States and abroad.

Home video
CBS entered into the home video market, when joined with MGM to form MGM/CBS Home Video in 1978, but the joint venture was broken by 1982. CBS joined another studio: 20th Century Fox, to form CBS/Fox Video. CBS's duty was to release some of the movies by TriStar Pictures under the CBS/Fox Video label.

Gabriel Toys
CBS entered the video game market briefly, through its acquisition of Gabriel Toys , publishing several arcade adaptations and original titles under the name "CBS Electronics", for the Atari 2600, and other consoles and computers, also producing one of the first karaoke recording/players. CBS Electronics also distributed all Coleco-related video game products in Canada, including the ColecoVision. CBS later sold Gabriel Toys to View-Master, which eventually ended up as part of Mattel.

Venture to the UK
On September 14, 2009, it was revealed that the international arm of CBS, CBS Studios International, struck a joint venture deal with Chellomedia to launch six CBS-branded channels in the UK during 2009. The new channels would replace Zone Romantica, Zone Thriller, Zone Horror and Zone Reality, plus timeshift services Zone Horror +1 and Zone Reality +1. On October 1, 2009, it was announced that CBS Reality, CBS Reality +1, CBS Drama and CBS Action would launch on November 16, 2009 replacing Zone Reality, Zone Reality +1, Zone Romantica and Zone Thriller respectively. On April 5, 2010, Zone Horror and Zone Horror +1 were rebranded as Horror Channel and Horror Channel +1.

  New owners
By the early 1990s, profits had fallen as a result of competition from cable companies, video rentals, and the high cost of programming. About 20 former CBS affiliates switched to the rapidly rising Fox Television Network in the mid 1990s, while many television markets across the country lost their CBS affiliate for awhile. CBS ratings were acceptable, but the network struggled with an image of stodginess. Laurence Tisch lost interest and sought a new buyer.


Westinghouse Electric Corporation
In 1995, Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquired CBS for $5.4 billion. As one of the major broadcasting group owners of commercial radio and television stations since 1920, Westinghouse sought to transition from a station operator into a major media company with its purchase of CBS. This was followed in 1997 with the $4.9-billion purchase of Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, owner of more than 150 radio stations. Also that year, Westinghouse began the CBS Cable division by acquiring two existing cable channels (Gaylord's The Nashville Network and Country Music Television) and starting a new one .

Following the Infinity purchase, operation and sales responsibilities for the CBS Radio Network was handed to Infinity, which turned management over to Westwood One, a company Infinity managed. WWO is a major radio program syndicator that had previously purchased the Mutual Broadcasting System, NBC's radio networks and the rights to use the "NBC Radio Networks" name. For a time, CBS Radio, NBC Radio Networks and CNN's radio news services were all under the WWO umbrella.

, Westwood One continues to distribute CBS radio programming, but as a self-managed company that put itself up for sale and found a buyer for a significant amount of its stock.

CBS also owned CBS Telenoticias, a Spanish-language news network.

In that same year of 1997, Westinghouse changed its name to CBS Corporation, and corporate headquarters were moved from Pittsburgh to New York. And to underline the change in emphasis, all non-entertainment assets were put up for sale. Another 90 radio stations were added to Infinity's portfolio in 1998 with the acquisition of American Radio Systems Corporation for $2.6 billion.

In 1999, CBS paid $2.5 billion to acquire King World Productions, a television syndication company whose programs include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. By the end of 1999, all pre-CBS elements of Westinghouse's industrial past were gone.

Viacom
By the 1990s, CBS had become a broadcasting giant, but in 1999 entertainment conglomerate Viacom, a company created years earlier to syndicate old CBS series, announced it was taking over CBS in a deal valued at $37 billion. Following completion of this effort in 2000, Viacom was ranked as the second-largest entertainment company in the world.

CBS Corporation and CBS Studios
Having assembled all the elements of a communications empire, Viacom found that the promised synergy was not there, and at the end of 2005 it split itself in two. CBS became the center of a new company, CBS Corporation, which included the broadcasting elements, Paramount Television's production operations , UPN (which later merged with Time Warner's The WB into The CW), Viacom Outdoor advertising , Showtime, Simon & Schuster, and Paramount Parks, which the company sold in May 2006. It is the legal successor to the old Viacom.

The second company, keeping the Viacom name, kept Paramount Pictures, assorted MTV Networks, BET, and, until May 2007, Famous Music, which was sold to Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

As a result of the aforementioned Viacom/CBS corporate split, as well as other acquisitions over recent years, CBS owns a massive film and television library spanning nine decades; these include not only acquired material from Viacom and CBS in-house productions and network programs, but also programs aired originally on competing networks. Shows and other material in this library include I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, The Honeymooners, Hawaii Five-O , Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, Little House on the Prairie , Star Trek, The Brady Bunch, Cheers, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Evening Shade, Duckman CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs, the CBS theatrical library , and the entire Terrytoons library from 1921 forward, among others.

Both CBS Corporation and the new Viacom are still owned by Sumner Redstone's company, National Amusements. As such, Paramount Home Entertainment continues to handle DVD distribution for the CBS library.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "CBS (televisiezender)", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.