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TV Guide is a North American weekly magazine about television programming.

In addition to TV listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews. Some issues have also featured horoscope listings and crossword puzzles.

United States magazines

Annenberg/Triangle era

The national TV Guide was first published on April 3, 1953. Its premiere issue cover featured a photograph of Lucille Ball's and Desi Arnaz's newborn son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.

TV Guide as a national publication resulted from Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications' purchase of numerous regional television listing publications such as TV Forecast, TV Digest, Television Guide and TV Guide. The launch as a national publication with local listings in April 1953 became an almost instant success with the magazine becoming the most read and circulated magazine in the country by the 1960s. The initial cost was just 15¢ per copy. In addition to subscriptions, TV Guide was sold from grocery store counters nationwide. Until the 1980s, each issue's features were promoted in a television commercial. Under Triangle Publications, TV Guide continued to grow not only in circulation, but in recognition as the authority on television programming with articles from both staff and contributing writers. Over the decades the shape of the logo has changed to reflect the modernization of the television screen. At first, the logo had various color backgrounds (usually black, white, blue or green) until the familiar red background became a standard in the 1960s with occasional changes to accommodate a special edition.

Under Triangle Publications, TV Guide was first based in a small office in downtown Philadelphia until moving to more spacious national headquarters in Radnor, Pennsylvaniamarker in the late 1950s. The new facility, complete with a large lighted TV Guide logo at the building's entrance, was home to management, editors, production personnel, subscription processors as well as a vast computer system holding data on every show and movie available for listing in the popular weekly publication. Printing of the national color section of TV Guide took place at Triangle's Gravure Division plant adjacent to Triangle's landmark Philadelphia Inquirer Building on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. The color section was then sent to regional printers to be wrapped around the local listing sections. Triangle's Gravure Division was known for performing some of the highest quality printing in the industry with almost always perfect registration.

Triangle Publications in addition to TV Guide owned The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, 16 radio and television stations (WFIL AMmarker-FMmarker-TVmarker Philadelphia, PA, WNHC AMmarker-FM-TVmarker New Haven, CT, KFRE AMmarker-FM-TVmarker Fresno, CA, WNBF AM-FM-TVmarker Binghamton, NY, WFBG AM-FM-TVmarker Altoona, PA and WLYH-TVmarker Lancaster/Lebanon, PA) The Daily Racing Form, The Morning Telegraph, Seventeen, and various cable TV interests. It was under Triangle's ownership of WFIL in Philadelphia that Dick Clark and American Bandstand came to popularity. Triangle Publications sold its Philadelphia newspapers to Knight Newspapers in 1969, its radio and television stations during the early 1970s to Capital Cities Communications and various other interests retaining only TV Guide, Seventeen Magazine and the Daily Racing Form. Triangle Publications was sold to News America Corporation in 1988 for $3 billion, one of the largest media deals of the time.

News Corporation era

The advent of cable TV was hard on TV Guide. Cable channels began to be listed in TV Guide in 1980 or 1981, depending on the edition. Channels were also different, depending on the edition. Each channel was designated by an oblong bullet of 3 letters, for example, (ESN) represented ESPN. To save channel space, some cable channels (mainly pay channels) had an asterisk by them, which meant that it was only listed in the evening grid (and later the Pay-TV Movie Guide). Channels like (MAX) and (DIS) (Cinemax and Disney, respectively) initially started only in the grids but later expanded to the listings as well.

As the years went on, cable channels were added. To help offset this, the issue of May 11-17, 1985 introduced a smaller font with some other cosmetic changes - a show's length was listed after the show's title, not in the description as it was previously. Another listings change took place in 1996; the show's title was no longer listed in ALL CAPS but upper and lower case as well.

Because most cable systems published their own listing magazine reflecting their channel lineup, and now have a separate guide channel on the remote that opens up to available programming, a printed listing of programming in a separate magazine became less valuable. The sheer amount and diversity of cable TV programming made it hard for TV Guide to provide listings of the extensive array of programming that came directly over the cable system. TV Guide also could not match the ability of the cable box to store personalized listings. TV Guide's circulation went from almost 20 million in 1970 to less than three million in 2007.

By 2003, there was also a list of cable channels (also broadcast channels in some editions) that were listed in the grids only. From its inception until 2003, TV Guide offered listings for the entire week, 24 hours a day. Beginning with the June 21, 2003 issue (in just a few select markets), the 5am-5pm Monday-Friday listings were condensed down to four grids: 5am-8am, 8am-11am, 11am-2pm, 2pm-5pm. If programming differed from one weekday to the next, "Various Programs" was listed. This change became permanent in all TV Guide editions beginning with the 2003 Fall Preview issue. Beginning in January 2004, the midnight-5am listings (and also 5am-8am on the Saturday and Sunday listings) did not include any out-of-town broadcast stations, just the edition's home market. Starting in June 2004 in most editions the channel lineup page showing the stations for each local edition was dropped. Starting in July 2004 the overnight listings were taken out entirely, replaced by a grid that ran from 11pm-2am and had the edition's home market broadcast stations, with a handful of cable stations. It also listed a small selection of late-night movies on some channels. The daytime grids also changed from the 5am-5pm listings, to 7am-7pm. In early 2005 more channels were added to the prime-time and late night grids. The magazine also changed format to start the week's issue with Sunday listings, rather than Saturday listings, changing a tradition that started from the magazine's first issue.

On May 18, 2005, TV Guide launched TV Guide Talk, a weekly podcast available for free. The podcast was headlined by TV Guide reporter/personality Michael Ausiello, and was co-hosted by his co-workers, Angel Cohn, Daniel Manu, and Maitland McDonagh. The podcast was discontinued in 2008 with Ausiello's move to Entertainment Weekly.

TV Guide was purchased from News Corporation in 1999 by United Video Satellite Group, parent company of the Prevue Networks, which itself was later purchased by the maker of the VCR Plus+ device and schedule system, Gemstar-TV Guide International, partially owned by News Corp.

Gemstar era

On July 26, 2005, Gemstar-TV Guide announced that TV Guide would change in format from its digest size format to a larger full-size national magazine that will offer more stories and fewer TV listings. All 140 local editions were also eliminated, being replaced by two editions, one for Eastern/Central time zones and one for Pacific/Mountain. The change in format was attributed to the increase in the Internet, cable TV channels (like TV Guide Network), electronic program guides, TiVo, as the sources of choice for viewers' program listings.

The new version of TV Guide went on sale on October 17, 2005, and featured Ty Pennington from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on the cover. The listings format, now consisted entirely of grids, also changed format to start the week's issue with Monday listings, rather than Sunday listings.

In September 2006, TV Guide launched a redesigned website with expanded original editorial and user-generated content not included in the print magazine.

On December 22, 2006, TV Guide introduced the magazine's first ever two-week edition. The edition, which has Rachael Ray on the cover, was issued for the week of December 25, 2006 to January 7, 2007. In early 2008, the daytime Monday-Friday and late night grids were eliminated from the listings section, and the television highlights section was compressed into a six-page review of the week, rather than the previous two pages for each night.

With the acquisition of Gemstar-TV Guide by Macrovision on May 2, 2008, that company, which purchased Gemstar-TV Guide to mostly take advantage of their lucrative and profitable VCR Plus and electronic program guide patents, stated they wanted to sell both the magazine and TV Guide Network, along with the company's TVG horse racing channel to other parties.

OpenGate Capital era

On October 13, 2008, Macrovision sold the money-losing magazine to equity fund OpenGate Capital for $1.00. As part of the sale however, the companion website was retained by Macrovision (who then sold it to One Equity Partners), with all editorial connections between the magazine and website severed, including the end of Matt Roush's presence on The editorial content of the magazine will be launched on a new site,, which will not feature TV Guide's listings in any form. Connections between the Magazine and Network were also severed, with new Network owner Lionsgate making clear with their purchase that the scrolling listings will not be a part of the Network after their purchase.

In January 2009, the magazine cut several networks from the grid listings, including DIY Network and MTV, citing "space concerns". However two cuts, those of The CW and TV Guide Network, were seen as suspicious and arbitrary, as the guide carries several channels which have the same schedule night after night or are low-viewed and could have easily been cut, while several Fox networks continue to be listed due to agreements with the former News Corporation ownership. It is likely that the Network's removal from TV Guide listings was related to the "divorce" of the website and network from the magazine.

In early February 2009, the listings for The CW and MTV were readded after much protest to the magazine's email addresses, with the listings for several low-viewed networks removed as a consequence.


In 1998, TV Guide was acquired by the Prevue Channel (now TV Guide Network). Like its predecessor, it scrolls TV listings on the bottom portion of the screen. However the top portion now features celebrity gossip, movie talk, and commercials. Until recently, the programs on the TV Guide Channel generally only lasted from 30 seconds to a minute, and thus were usually scheduled to play on the hour. For instance a show might appear at 12:45 and again at 1:45.

In May 2007, Gemstar Media renamed the TV Guide Channel to the TV Guide Network, stating that the new name reflects a new direction towards more original content and entertainment features in addition to its traditional listings function.

Today, TV Guide Network runs full length programming, including programs such as the weekly entertainment news magazine, The 411, and red-carpet event coverage (originally hosted by Joan and Melissa Rivers). In mid-2007, the mother-daughter duo were unceremoniously dropped by TV Guide in favor of both Lisa Rinna and Joey Fatone, whose popularities had been on the rise in the wake of their recent appearances on Dancing with the Stars.

Other usage of the TV Guide name

  • The term "TV guide" has partly become a genericized trademark to describe other TV listings appearing on the web and in newspapers. Read/Write Web published "Your Guide to Online TV Guides: 10 Services Compared." Techcrunch in 2006 offered "Overview: The End of Paper TV Guides."

  • TV Guides is also the name of an interactive video and sound installation produced in 1995 with assistance from the Canada Council and shown at SIGGRAPH 1999. National TV guides are also published in other countries, but none of these are believed to be affiliated with the North American publication.

  • In Australia, during the 1970s a version of TV Guide was published under license by Southdown Press. But that version soon merged with its competitor publication, TV Week, in 1980. TV Week has a very similar logo to the TV Guide logo.

  • New Zealandmarker has is a digest-sized publication called TV Guide, although it is not linked in any way to either the United States or Canadian publications. It has the biggest circulation of any national magazine, and is published by Fairfax Media.

  • Mexicomarker offers a digest-sized publication called TV Guía, unrelated with the US publication. It is published by Editorial Televisa.

  • In Italymarker, a digest-size Guida TV is published by Mondadori since September 1976.

Other notable television listings magazines

  • In the United Kingdommarker, the Radio Times and TV Times are amongst the most popular. In Germanymarker, people have the choice of about 50 different TV Guides; some of them showing the TV listings for the next 2 or even 4 weeks ahead.

In popular culture

  • Seinfeld- George's father, Frank, collects the magazine. He enjoys the fall preview editions the most. In 2000, Frank was featured in advertisements for the Canadian TV Guide, singing the praises of its new features, including perfect binding.
  • Lucille Ball has appeared on TV Guide more than anyone else. Her image has appeared on 39 covers.

See also


  1. TV Guide Sold for a Buck
  8. Your Guide to Online TV Guides: 10 Services Compared - ReadWriteWeb
  9. Overview: The End of Paper TV Guides
  10. TV Guides by Don Ritter
  11. Fairfax Media: Publications

External links

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