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The NTA Film Network was an early American television network founded by Ely Landau in 1956. The network was not a full-time network like CBS, NBC, or ABC. Rather, it operated on a part-time basis, broadcasting films and several first-run TV programs from major Hollywood studios. Despite attracting over 100 affiliate stations and the financial support of Twentieth Century-Fox (which purchased a 50% share of NTA in November 1956) the network proved unprofitable, and was discontinued by 1961. The NTA Film Network's flagship station, WNTA-TVmarker, is now one of the flagship stations of the PBS educational television network.

Origins

Parent company National Telefilm Associates was founded by producers Ely Landau and Oliver A. Unger in 1954 when Landau's film and television production company, Ely Landau, Inc., was reorganized in partnership with Unger and screenwriter and producer Harold Goldman. NTA was the successor company to U.M.&M. T.V. Corp, having purchased U.M.&M. in 1956.

In October 1956, NTA launched the NTA Film Network, a syndication service which distributed both films and television programs to independent television stations and stations affiliated with NBC, CBS, or ABC (DuMont had recently gone out of the network business). The ad-hoc network's flagship station was WNTA-TVmarker, channel 13 in New York. The NTA Network was launched as a "fourth TV network", and trade papers of the time referred to it as a new television network.

Unlike the Big Three television networks, the local stations in the NTA Film Network were not connected via coaxial cable or microwave relay. Instead, NTA Film Network programs were filmed and then mailed to each station in the network, a method used by television syndicators in the 1950s and 1960s. However, many local stations agreed to broadcast NTA Film Network programs in pattern (simultaneously). Landau's claim to network status was based on the simultaneous airing of the programs.

The NTA Film network launched on October 15, 1956, with over 100 affiliate stations. In November 1956, it was announced that 50% of the network had been purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox, which would also produce original content for the network. The film network grew to 128 stations. In September 1957, the network purchased KMGM-TVmarker in Minneapolis.

Affiliates

The following is a list of NTA Film Network affiliate stations in November, 1956.

Ada, OK: KTENmarker Green Bay-Marinette, WI: WBAY-TVmarker Peoria: WTVHmarker
Allentown-Bethlehem, PA: WGLV Harrisburg: WCMB-TV Phoenix: KPHO-TVmarker
Anchorage: KTVAmarker Hattiesburg: WDAM-TVmarker Portland, ME: WCSHmarker
Ashville, NC: WLOSmarker Henderson-Las Vegas: KLRJ-TVmarker Portland, OR: KPTVmarker
Atlanta: WAGAmarker Houston: KTRK-TVmarker Providence: WJARmarker
Austin, MN: KMMTmarker Indianapolis: WFBM-TVmarker Raleigh-Durham: WTVDmarker
Bakersfield: KERO-TVmarker Jackson, MS: WLBTmarker Richmond: WTVR-TVmarker
Bangor, ME: WABI-TVmarker Jefferson City, MO: KRCGmarker Roanoke, VA: WDBJmarker
Birmingham, AL: WBRCmarker Johnstown, PA: WARD-TV Rock Island: WHBF-TVmarker
Bismarck ND: KBMB-TVmarker Juneau: KINY-TVmarker Rockford, IL: WREX-TVmarker
Carlsbad NM: KAVE-TV Kansas City: KMBC-TVmarker Salt Lake City: KSL-TVmarker
Cedar Rapids-Waterloo: KWWLmarker Kearney, NE: KHOL-TVmarker San Angelo, TX: KTXL-TVmarker
Charleston, WV: WCHS-TVmarker Knoxville: WBIR-TVmarker San Antonio: KENS-TVmarker
Charleston, SC: WUSN-TVmarker Lafayette, IN: WFAM-TVmarker San Diego: XETVmarker
Chattanooga: WDEF-TVmarker Lafayette, LA: KLFY-TVmarker Savannah: WSAV-TVmarker
Chicago: WGN-TVmarker Lincoln: KOLNmarker Seattle-Tacoma: KTNT-TVmarker
Cincinnati: WKRC-TVmarker Little Rock-Pine Bluff: KATVmarker Sioux City: KTIVmarker
Cleveland: WJW-TVmarker Los Angeles: KTTVmarker South Bend-Elkhart, IN: WSJVmarker
Columbus, GA: WDAK-TVmarker Lubbock: KDUBmarker Spokane: KREM-TVmarker
Columbus, OH: WTVN-TVmarker Madison: WISC-TVmarker Springfield, MA: WHYN-TVmarker
Columbus, MS: WCBI-TVmarker Memphis: WMCTmarker St. Joseph, MO: KFEQ-TVmarker
Dallas-Ft Worth: KFJZ-TVmarker Miami: WGBS-TV Sweetwater, TX: KPAR-TVmarker
Decatur, IL: WTVP-TVmarker Milwaukee: WITImarker Tampa: WSUN-TV
Decatur, AL: WMSL-TVmarker Minneapolis: WTCN-TVmarker Tucson: KVOAmarker
Denver: KTVRmarker Minot: KCJB-TVmarker Tulsa-Muskogee: KOTVmarker
Des Moines-Ames: WOI-TVmarker Mobile: WALA-TVmarker Twin Falls, ID: KLIX-TVmarker
Dickinson, ND: KDIX-TVmarker Monroe, LA: KNOE-TVmarker Washington: WMAL-TVmarker
Dothan, AL: WTVYmarker Montgomery: WCOV-TVmarker Waterloo-Ft Wayne, IN: WINTmarker
Duluth-Superior: KDAL-TVmarker Muncie: WLBCmarker Watertown, NY: WCNY-TVmarker
Eau Claire: WEAU-TVmarker Nashville: WSIX-TVmarker Wichita Falls, TX: KSYD-TVmarker
El Paso: KROD-TVmarker New York: WPIXmarker Wichita-Hutchinson: KTVHmarker
Fairbanks: KTVFmarker Norfolk: WVEC-TVmarker Wilkes Barre-Scranton: WILK-TVmarker
Fargo-Valley City: KXJB-TVmarker Oak Hill, WV: WOAY-TVmarker York, PA: WNOW-TV
Grand Junction: KREX-TVmarker Oklahoma City: KGEOmarker


Later affiliates included KOOK-TVmarker in Billings, Montana (circa 1958-1959), KONO-TVmarker in San Antonio (circa 1958–1959), WISH-TVmarker in Indianapolis (circa 1958–1959), and KTVUmarker in San Francisco (circa 1959–1960). The network purchased KMGM-TVmarker in Minneapolis, in September 1957.

Programs

The NTA Film Network aired both films and television series. Among its 1956–1957 offerings were 52 Twentieth Century-Fox films. Premiere Performance, a prime time block of Twentieth Century-Fox films, aired from 1957–1959. Other film blocks included TV Hour of Stars and The Big Night (both 1958–1959).

The network's television programs included:

How to Marry a Millionaire, which aired from 1957 to 1959, was based on the popular 1953 film of the same name. The series starred Barbara Eden, Merry Anders, Lori Nelson (1957–1958), and Lisa Gaye (1958–1959). The final episode aired in August 1959.

Man Without a Gun, a western series starring Rex Reason and Mort Mills, aired from 1957 to 1959. The series portrayed Reason as a newspaper editor who brought criminals to justice without the use of guns.

This is Alice, which aired from 1958 to 1959, starred nine year old Patty Ann Gerrity as Alice Holliday, a girl who lived in the fictional town of River Glen, Georgia. The series was directed and produced by Sidney Salkow for NTA and Desilu Productions.

Play of the Week, which aired from 1959 to 1961, was a series of 67 televised plays. The program was well-received by critics, and received a Peabody Award. The series ended its run on May 1, 1961.

Other, lesser-known series included The Bill Corum Sports Show, Man's Heritage, and The Passerby (all circa 1957), Divorce Court (1957–1969), Official Detective (1957–1958), Open End (1958–1961), William Tell (1958–1959), Assignment: Underwater (1959–1960), Q. T. Hush (1960–1961), Sheriff of Cochise/U.S. Marshall (1956–1958), Alex in Wonderland (1959), Newsbeat (1959–1961) and Mantovani (1959).

In October 1956, the NTA Film Network also announced provisional plans to telecast live sporting and special events (using network relays) by the 1959–1960 television season.

Timeline of programs

Below is a timeline showing the airdates of the NTA Film Network's programs. The number of episodes that each series aired is given in parentheses. Some dates are tentative, as accurate records for filmed television series were not always kept. The talk show Open End and the court drama Divorce Court continued at different production facilities after WNTA went non-commercial, in November 1961. Divorce Court aired until 1969 and saw a later revival; Open End aired (as The David Susskind Show) until 1987.

Schedule

Friday 1958–1959
7:00 7:30 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
Local Man Without a Gun This is Alice How to Marry a Millionaire Premiere Performance (20th Century Fox movies)
Note: This schedule was announced in May 1958; according to the announcement, 17 television stations would follow this schedule for the 1958–1959 television season; other NTA Film Network affiliates aired the programs out of pattern.

End of network

In January 1959, Ely Landau was succeeded by Charles C. Barry, who took over as president of network operations. Landau continued to chair National Telefilm Associates. Despite the 50% ownership of Twentieth Century-Fox, the film network never developed into a major commercial television network on a par with the "Big Three" television networks; several modern TV historians regard the NTA Film Network as a syndication service rather than a major television network.

By 1961, WNTA-TV was losing money, and the network's flagship station was sold to the Educational Broadcasting Corporation that November. WNTA-TV became WNDT (later WNET), flagship station of the National Educational Television network, a forerunner of PBS. NTA network operations did not continue without a flagship station, although parent company National Telefilm Associates continued syndication services.

See also

Other early failed American TV networks:

Further reading



References

External links




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