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The Overmyer Network was a short-lived television network. It was intended to be a fourth national network in the United States, competing with the Big Three television networks. The network was founded by self-made millionaire Daniel H. Overmyer, who built five UHF stations from 1965-67 (including Toledo's WDHO-TV (now WNWO-TVmarker), which signed on the air on May 3, 1966). A social conservative ("I'm against smut," he declared), Overmyer began to produce his own programs, and decided to create a nationwide hookup, enticing existing stations with a 50-50 profit split with potential affiliates (something that the established network's affiliates had been trying to get from ABC, CBS and NBC for years). The ON was scheduled to debut in the fall of 1967 with anywhere from 75 to 125 affiliates with an 8 hour broadcasting day.

From ON to UN

The network planned to offer eight hours of programming per day, seven days per week, to its affiliate stations. A daily news service, from United Press International, would provide each station with news. Cultural and sports programming were also planned. By July 1966, 35 stations had agreed to affiliate with the new network.

Before the network even went on the air, Overmyer was forced to sell a majority share to investors, although he remained the largest shareholder. Rechristened The United Network, which used a cartoon speaking balloon with an upper-case U as the network's logo, the net hit the air on May 1, 1967 with The Las Vegas Show on 106 stations. Hosted by Bill Dana from the Hotel Hacienda in Las Vegasmarker, the two-hour late-night show featured regulars Ann Elder, Pete Barbutti, Danny Meahan, Joanne Worley, Cully Richards and Jack Sheldon.

The network itself, except for a few independent stations in the larger markets, was mostly made up of CBS stations who aired The Las Vegas Show at 11:30 local time, tape delayed from the 11:00 start seen on United-only east coast stations. The network called WPIXmarker in New York Citymarker and KHJ-TVmarker in Los Angelesmarker their flagship stations, even though neither were owned by Overmyer/United. Additionally, the WPIX broadcast was often delayed until the weekend due to their commitment to New York Yankees baseball. The network also lacked clearance in some large cities, including San Francisco (which was waiting for KEMOmarker to be approved by the FCC) and Cleveland.

The end

The average viewership for The Las Vegas Show was 2.6 million. Despite the hype, initially good reviews and high-caliber guest stars, the network quickly started to bleed money; the transmission lines leased from the Bell System, which was the main carrier for television network transmissions at the time, proved to be too expensive. Both show and network disappeared after the June 1 (some sources say June 3 or June 5) broadcast.

A notice was sent to the network's 107 affiliate stations the first week of June. The notice stated:

At the time of the company's bankruptcy declaration, the United Network had accrued a nearly $700,000 debt.

Additional programming announced but never aired included Tales from the Great Book, an animated Bible series, plus regional coverage of the Continental Football League.

No new national commercial networks would be created until October 9, 1986, when Fox began transmissions and Channel America began putting together its slate of low-power television (LPTV) stations.

Overmyer / United affiliates

Station City
WPIXmarker 11 New York, New Yorkmarker
WPHL-TVmarker 17 Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker (O&O)
KEMOmarker 20 San Francisco, Californiamarker (O&O; did not sign on until 1968)
WKBDmarker 50 Detroit, Michiganmarker
WBMO-TVmarker 36 Atlanta, Georgiamarker (O&O; did not sign on under Overmyer until 1969)
KLOC-TVmarker 19 Modestomarker-Sacramento, Californiamarker
WDHOmarker 24 Toledo, Ohiomarker (O&O; network flagship)
KTNT-TVmarker 11 Seattlemarker-Tacoma, Washingtonmarker
KZAZmarker 11 Tucson, Arizonamarker


  • CBS-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: WHDHmarker-Boston, WISNmarker-Milwaukee, KAUZmarker-Wichita Falls, WBAYmarker-Green Bay, KOLOmarker-Reno, KSLmarker-Salt Lake, WSEEmarker-Erie, WBENmarker-Buffalo, WHECmarker-Rochester (NY), WHENmarker-Syracuse, KXLFmarker-Butte, WSPAmarker-Spartanburg, WDBJmarker-Roanoke, KFDMmarker-Beaumont, KZTVmarker-Corpus Christi, KCMOmarker-Kansas City, WTVRmarker-Richmond (VA), KODEmarker-Joplin, WAGAmarker-Atlanta, WKRGmarker-Mobile, KDALmarker-Duluth, KENSmarker-San Antonio, WJIMmarker-Lansing, WTARmarker-Norfolk (VA), WFMYmarker-Greensboro (NC)
  • NBC-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: KPRCmarker-Houston, KOBmarker-Albuquerque, WIICmarker-Pittsburgh
  • ABC-affiliated stations that aired The Las Vegas Show: WLWImarker-Indianapolis WLCYmarker-Tampa
  • Markets that did not air The Las Vegas Show: San Francisco, Lincoln, Omaha, Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Columbus (OH), Dayton


References


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