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Metromedia (also often MetroMedia) was a media company that owned radio and television stations in the United Statesmarker from 1956 to 1986.

Overview

The company arose from the ashes of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first commercial television network. By 1955, DuMont realized it could not compete against CBS, NBC and a revived ABC, and decided to shut down network operations. Soon after DuMont formally shut down network operations in 1956, it spun off its two remaining owned and operated stations, WABD in New York Citymarker and WTTGmarker in Washington, D.C.marker, to shareholders as the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation. In 1957, DuMont Broadcasting changed its name to the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation to distance itself from the failure associated with DuMont. The company's headquarters were co-located with WABD in the former DuMont Tele-Centre (which was later renamed the Metromedia Telecenter) in New York.

In 1958, DuMont's namesake, Dr. Allen B. DuMont, sold his shares in Metropolitan Broadcasting to Washington-based investor John Kluge, who installed himself as the company's chairman with a 75-percent controlling interest. Kluge then merged his two New York radio stations, WNEW-AMmarker-FM, into the company, and changed WABD's calls to WNEW-TV to match its new radio sisters. Kluge's first acquisitions included WHK-AM-FM in Clevelandmarker (in 1958); KOVRmarker in Stockton, Californiamarker, WTVH-TV (now WHOImarker) in Peoria, Illinoismarker, and the Foster & Kleiser outdoor advertising firm (all in 1959); and WIP-AM-FM in Philadelphiamarker and WTVP television (now WANDmarker) in Decatur, Illinoismarker (both in 1960). In 1961, Kluge changed the company's name to Metromedia. However, the Metropolitan Broadcasting name was retained for its broadcasting division until 1967.

Also in 1961, Metromedia purchased KMBC AMmarker-TVmarker and KMBR FMmarker in Kansas City, Missourimarker. In separate 1963 deals the company expanded into Los Angelesmarker, buying first KTTVmarker, and later KLACmarker and KLAC-FM (later KMET and now KTWV). Metromedia also entered the realm of live entertainment by purchasing the Ice Capades (in 1963) and the Harlem Globetrotters (in 1967). Later in the decade Metromedia opened a television production center in Los Angeles, known as Metromedia Squaremarker, which served as the studio facility for numerous network programs. Metromedia also owned a TV production and distribution company called Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC), established in 1968 from Wolper Productions. MPC produced and syndicated various programs and TV movies, most notably the game show Truth or Consequences and the 1972-83 version of The Merv Griffin Show.

Metromedia spent the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s increasing its television and radio station portfolio, and continued to expand its syndication business. They entered the record business in 1969 when they launched the Metromedia Records label, whose biggest-selling artist was Bobby Sherman; but the label went out of business by 1974. In 1982 Metromedia made its biggest broadcasting purchase when it acquired WCVB-TVmarker in Bostonmarker for $220 million, which at the time was the largest amount ever spent on a single television station property. Two years later, John Kluge bought out Metromedia's shareholders and took the company private.

On May 6, 1985, Kluge announced the sale of Metromedia's television stations, and Metromedia Producers Corp., to the News Corporation (owned by Australian newspaper publisher Rupert Murdoch) and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (owned jointly by Murdoch and Marvin Davis) for $3.5 billion. With the exception of WCVB-TV (which was subsequently sold to the Hearst Corporation), all of the former Metromedia stations formed the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company, while MPC was folded into 20th Century Fox Television. The transactions became official on March 6, 1986. Kluge also sold Metromedia's outdoor advertising firm, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the Ice Capades in that same year, and spun-off the radio stations into a separate company (which ironically took on the Metropolitan Broadcasting name) before they were sold to various other owners by the early 1990s.

In retaliation for a lawsuit brought by Paul Winchell, who sought the rights to his children's television program, "Winchell-Mahoney Time," Metromedia management unethically destroyed the video tapes. Mr. Winchell was later awarded nearly $18 million as compensation for Metromedia's capricious behavior.

The Metromedia name has lived on in other projects by Kluge such as the Metromedia Restaurant Group, though the ventures have been largely unrelated to television. When Kluge bought into Major League Soccer in 1995, the club he operated was named MetroStars (now Red Bull New York) after his company.

Based on the common link to Metromedia, television historian Clarke Ingram claims that Fox is a direct descendant, if not a revival, of DuMont. Indeed, the former WNEW-TV, now Fox flagship WNYWmarker, is still headquartered in the former Metromedia Telecenter, now known as the Fox Television Center.

Typesetting

Beginning in 1967, Metromedia's television stations began utilizing a sans-serif font for their on-air logo. The typeface was a proprietary font called Metromedia Television Alphabet, which was as distinctive as the typesetting employed by Group W for its TV and radio stations beginning in 1963. Metromedia Television Alphabet was used for the channel numbers of its television stations until 1977, when another typeface modeled slightly after the Futura family was introduced.

Former Metromedia stations

Television stations

DMA# City of license/Market Station Channel
TV / DT
Years owned Current affiliation and ownership
1. New York Citymarker WABD/WNEW-TV
(now WNYWmarker)
5 / 44 1956-1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
2. Los Angelesmarker KTTVmarker 11 / 65 1963-1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
3. Chicagomarker WFLD-TVmarker 32 / 31 1983-1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
5. Dallasmarker - Fort Worthmarker KRLD-TV
(now KDAFmarker)
33 / 32 1983-1986 CW affiliate owned by Tribune Company
6. San Franciscomarker - Oaklandmarker - San Josemarker KNEW-TV
(now KMTP-TVmarker)
32 / 33 1968-1970 Non-commercial independent
owned by Minority Television Project
7. Bostonmarker WCVB-TVmarker 5 / 20 1982-1986 ABC affiliate owned by Hearst-Argyle Television
9. Washington, D.C.marker WTTGmarker 5 / 36 1956-1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
10. Houstonmarker KRIV-TVmarker 26 / 27 1978-1986 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
15. Minneapolismarker - St. Paulmarker WTCN-TV
(now KAREmarker)
11 / 35 1972-1983 NBC affiliate owned by Gannett Company
20. Stocktonmarker - Sacramento, CAmarker KOVRmarker 13 / 25 1959-1964 CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
32. Kansas City, Missourimarker KMBC-TVmarker 9 / 29 1961-1982 ABC affiliate owned by Hearst-Argyle Television
33. Newport, KYmarker - Cincinnatimarker WXIX-TVmarker 19 / 29 1972-1983 Fox affiliate owned by Raycom Media
84. Decaturmarker - Springfieldmarker -
Champaignmarker - Urbana, ILmarker
WTVP
(now WANDmarker)
None / 18 1960-1965 NBC affiliate owned by Block Communications
116. Peoriamarker - Bloomington, ILmarker WTVH-TV
(now WHOImarker)
19 / 40 1959-1965 ABC affiliate owned by Barrington Broadcasting
(operated under JSA and SSA by Granite Broadcasting)


Metromedia (as Metropolitan Broadcasting) also held a construction permit for WHK-TV, channel 19, in Cleveland, Ohiomarker in the late 1950s, but that station never signed on. The channel 19 allocation is now occupied by WOIOmarker, which was under common ownership with WHK radio for a few years.

Radio stations

AM Stations FM Stations


DMA# Market Station Current Ownership
1. New York Citymarker WNEW-FM-102.7
(now WWFS)
CBS Radio
WNEW-1130
(now WBBRmarker)
Bloomberg L.P.
2. Los Angelesmarker KLAC-FM/KMET-94.7
(now KTWV)
CBS Radio
KLACmarker-570 Clear Channel Communications
3. Chicagomarker WMET-95.5
(now WNUA)
Clear Channel Communications
4. San Franciscomarker KSAN-FM-94.9
(now KYLDmarker)
Clear Channel Communications
KNEWmarker-910 Clear Channel Communications
5. Dallasmarker - Fort Worthmarker KAFM-92.5
(now KZPSmarker)
Clear Channel Communications
KRLDmarker-1080 CBS Radio
7. Philadelphiamarker WIP-FM/WMMR-93.3 Greater Media
WIP-610 CBS Radio
9. Washington, D.C.marker WASH-97.1 Clear Channel Communications
11. Detroitmarker WOMCmarker-104.3 CBS Radio
14. Seattlemarker - Tacomamarker KJR-950 Clear Channel Communications
19. Tampamarker - St. Petersburgmarker - Clearwatermarker WWBA-FM-107.3
(now WXGLmarker)
Cox Enterprises
WWBA-680
(now WGESmarker)
Grupo GĂ©nesis
21. Baltimoremarker WCBM-FM-106.5
(now WWMX)
CBS Radio
WCBM-680 WCBM Maryland Inc.
22. Denvermarker - Bouldermarker KHOWmarker-630 Clear Channel Communications
28. Clevelandmarker WHK-FM/WMMS-100.7 Clear Channel Communications
WHK-1420 Salem Communications
32. Kansas City, Missourimarker KMBC-FM-99.7
(now KKSNmarker)
Entercom Communications
KMBC-980
(now KMBZmarker)
Entercom Communications


TV series produced and/or distributed by MPC



* -- MPC was the international distributor for these programs. Distribution was later transferred to 20th Century Fox Television, following Murdoch's acquisition of MPC. These programs ane now distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Television. In the United States, Sony Pictures Television and its predecessor, Columbia Pictures Television, was always the distributor of syndicated repeats of these programs.

References

  1. Spielvogel, Carl. "Advertising: an acquisition set." The New York Times, Dec. 20, 1959.
  2. "Metromedia Gets Its TV Team in Uniform; Restyles Its Look with New Graphics Discipline." (PDF) Broadcasting magazine, March 25, 1968, pp. 56-57.
  3. "Ice Capades Acquired By Metromedia, Inc." The New York Times, May 14, 1963.
  4. Gent, George. "Metromedia buys Globetrotters; TV chain will add team to Ice Capades operation." The New York Times, May 24, 1967.
  5. Schwartz, Tony. "Metromedia seeks TV station." The New York Times, July 23, 1981.
  6. Cuff, Daniel F. "Business people; Metromedia's founder begins new challenge." The New York Times, Dec. 14, 1983.
  7. Cole, Robert J.. "Murdoch to buy & TV stations; cost $2 billion." The New York Times, May 7, 1985.
  8. Stevenson, Richard W. "Metromedia ad business sale". The New York Times, Jan. 21, 1986.
  9. Fabrikant, Geraldine. "Metromedia set to sell Globetrotters, ice show." The New York Times, Mar. 5, 1986.
  10. "Metromedia sells 9 radio stations." Associated Press, Nov. 20, 1986.


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