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|Fate||Sold off. Corporate name continues as owner of MetroMedia Technologies.|
|Predecessor||Allen B. DuMont Laboratories
DuMont Broadcasting Corporation
Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation
|Successor||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (content library)
Fox Television Stations (broadcast stations)
|Founded||1956 as Metropolitan Broadcasting Corp.|
|Defunct||1997 (as a media company)|
|Headquarters||New York City|
|John W. Kluge, founder/chairman/CEO
Stuart Subotnick, Current President/CEOWilliam Ishida, President/CEO Metromedia Technologies, Inc.
|Products||television, radio, entertainment, advertising|
The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Motion Picture Corporation of America
Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation
Metromedia (also often MetroMedia) was an American media company that owned radio and television stations in the United States from 1956 to 1986 and controlled Orion Pictures from 1988 to 1997. Metromedia was established in 1956 after the DuMont Television Network ceased operations and its owned-and-operated stations were spun off into a separate company. Metromedia sold its television stations to News Corporation in 1985 (which News Corp. then used to form the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company), and spun off its radio stations into a separate company in 1986. Metromedia then acquired ownership stakes in various film studios, including controlling ownership in Orion. In 1997, Metromedia closed down and sold its media assets to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The company arose from the ashes of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first commercial television network. DuMont had been in economic trouble throughout its existence, and seriously undermined when ABC accepted a buyout offer from United Paramount Theaters in 1953. The ABC-UPT deal gave ABC the resources to operate a national television service along the lines of CBS and NBC. DuMont officials quickly realized the ABC-UPT deal put their network on life support, and agreed in principle to merge with ABC. However, it was forced to back out of the deal when minority owner Paramount Pictures raised antitrust concerns. UPT had only spun off from Paramount four years earlier, and there were still doubts about whether the two companies were really separate.
By 1955, DuMont realized it could not compete against the other three networks and decided to wind down its operations. Soon after DuMont formally shut down network service in 1956, the parent firm DuMont Laboratories spun off the network's two remaining owned and operated stations, WABD in New York City and WTTG in Washington, D.C., to shareholders as the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation. 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 1957, DuMont Broadcasting purchased two New York area radio stations, WNEW (now WBBR) and WHFI (later WNEW-FM and WWFS), and later that year changed its name to the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation to distance itself from its former parent company. The following year, Paramount sold its shares in Metropolitan Broadcasting to Washington-based investor John Kluge, enough to give Kluge controlling interest. Kluge installed himself as chairman, and later increased his holdings to 75 percent. WABD's call letters were later changed to WNEW-TV to match its new radio sisters.
Metromedia's first acquisitions included WHK-AM-FM in Cleveland (in 1958); the Foster & Kleiser outdoor advertising firm (in 1959); and KOVR in Stockton, California, WIP-AM-FM in Philadelphia, WTVH-TV (now WHOI) in Peoria, Illinois, and WTVP television (now WAND) in Decatur, Illinois (all in 1960). In 1961 Metropolitan purchased KMBC-AM-TV in Kansas City, Missouri. Later that year the company's name was changed to Metromedia; the Metropolitan Broadcasting name was retained for its broadcasting division until 1967.
In separate 1963 deals the company expanded into Los Angeles, buying first KTTV and later KLAC and the original KLAC-FM (now KIIS-FM). The company would later engineer a swap of FM facilities; the second KLAC-FM (later KMET and now KTWV) was established in 1965. 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 Square, 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 1972-86 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.
Metromedia entered the record business in 1969 with the launch of the Metromedia Records label, whose biggest-selling artist was Bobby Sherman. The label was also notable as having issued the first two studio albums of Peter Allen, Peter Allen (1971) and Tenterfield Saddler (1972). The label was closed as of 1974. Allen's Tenterfield Saddler, the title song of which has become an Australian standard, was acquired and reissued by A&M Records in 1978.
In 1976, similar to the more successful SFM Holiday Network of syndicated stations launched two years later, Metromedia teamed up with Ogilvy and Mather for a proposed linking of independent TV stations termed MetroNet. The proposed programming would consist of several Sunday night family dramas, on weeknights a half-hour serial and a gothic series similar to Dark Shadows, and on Saturdays a variety program hosted by Charo. The plans for MetroNet failed when advertisers balked at Metromedia's advertising rate, which was only slightly lower than the Big Three's and low national coverage, leaving for another similar operation, Operation Prime Time.
In 1982, Metromedia made its biggest broadcasting purchase when it acquired WCVB-TV in Boston 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 4, 1985, Kluge announced the sale of Metromedia's television stations, and Metromedia Producers Corp., to 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 (which began operations on October 9, 1986), while MPC was folded into 20th Century Fox Television. The transactions became official on March 6, 1986. Because of these transactions, and the fact that Metromedia was originally spun off from the DuMont Television Network, radio personality Clarke Ingram has suggested that the Fox network is a revival or at least a linear descendant of Dumont.
Kluge also sold Metromedia's outdoor advertising firm, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the Ice Capades in 1985, sold Metromedia Records to Tom Ficara and Combined Artists, 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, which was produced at KTTV in Los Angeles during the middle 1960s, it is believed that KTTV management destroyed the program's video tapes. In 1989 Winchell was awarded nearly $18 million as compensation for Metromedia's capricious behavior.
In 1983, Christine Craft, a former evening news co-anchor at KMBC-TV in Kansas City, sued Metromedia on claims of fraud and sexual discrimination. After spending eight months at KMBC-TV in 1981, she was demoted to reporting assignment after a focus group study claimed Craft was "too old, too unattractive and not deferential to men" in the eyes of viewers. Craft declined the reassignment and subsequently resigned from the station. Craft initially won her case, though she lost on appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ownership of Orion Pictures
On May 22, 1986, Metromedia acquired a 6.5% stake in Orion Pictures Corporation; a movie and television studio. By December, the stake in Orion's ownership was increased to 9.3% to 12.6% and on April 12, 1988, to 44.1% On May 20, 1988, Metromedia acquired Sumner Redstone's share for $78 million, holding a majority stake in Orion Pictures worth nearly 67%. In 1995, Kludge merged Orion, MCEG Sterling (producer of the Look Who's Talking series), the holding company Actava, and Metromedia into a new Metromedia. In 1996, Metromedia acquired Motion Picture Corporation of America and The Samuel Goldwyn Company. On April 11, 1997, Metromedia sold Orion/Goldwyn and MPCA to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $573 million and was closed on July 10 of the same year. In 1998, MPCA broke apart from MGM becoming independent again.
Beginning in 1967, Metromedia's television stations began utilizing a sans-serif typeface for their on-air logo. The typeface was a proprietary one called Metromedia Television Alphabet, which was as distinctive as the typeface employed by Group W unit of Westinghouse 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
Stations are listed alphabetically by state and city of license.
- Two boldface asterisks appearing following a station's call letters (**) indicate a station that was built and signed-on by Metromedia or its predecessor companies.
- This list does not include WDTV (now KDKA-TV) in Pittsburgh or KCTY in Kansas City. Although DuMont owned the two stations at some point, Metromedia never owned either of these two stations.
|AM Station||FM Station|
- 1 The acquisition of KMBC-AM-TV also included KMOS-TV in Sedalia, Missouri, and KFRM radio in Concordia, Kansas. Both stations were subsequently spun off by Metropolitan Broadcasting to other firms;
- 2 DuMont Broadcasting also acquired a construction permit for channel 19 in Cleveland along with its purchase of WHK radio in 1958 but that station, intended to be called WHK-TV, never signed on. The channel 19 allocation was later occupied by WOIO, which signed-on in 1985 under common ownership with WHK (Malrite Broadcasting);
- 3 The acquisition of KRLD also included the Texas State Network.
This is a list of television programs that were produced and/or syndicated by Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC):
- Allen Ludden's Gallery (1969)
- The Ann Sothern Show (1958-1961)
- B.A.D. Cats[N 1]
- Charlie's Angels[N 2]
- Chopper One[N 2]
- The Cross-Wits (1975-1980) (co-produced with Ralph Edwards Productions)
- Crusader Rabbit (1950-1952, 1956-1959)
- Dusty's Trail (1973-1974) (co-produced with Redwood Productions and Writer First Productions)
- Dynasty (distributor, 1985–1986)[N 1]
- Expedition Danger
- Family[N 2]
- Firehouse (1974) (co-produced with Stonehenge Productions)
- Groovie Goolies and Friends[N 3]
- The Great Space Coaster (co-produced with Sunbow Productions)[N 4]
- Hart to Hart[N 2]
- Here We Go Again (1973)
- Hit Man (co-produced with Jay Wolpert Productions)
- Jane Goodall and the World of Animal Behavior
- Jeopardy! (original version - distributor, 1974)[N 5]
- Kids Are People Too (1978-1982)
- Little Gloria... Happy at Last (1982; mini-series)
- Mayberry RFD (distributor)[N 6]
- The Merv Griffin Show (distributor/co-producer, 1972–1983)[N 7]
- Movin' On (distributor)[N 8]
- My Favorite Martian (distributor)[N 8]
- National Geographic Specials (1964–71)
- The New Avengers (U.S. distributor)[N 9]
- The New Howdy Doody Show (1976-1977)
- Super Pay Cards (1981–82; distributor)
- Primus (1971–72) (co-produced with Ivan Tors Films)
- Susie (1953-1957)
- Queen for a Day (1969–1970)
- S.W.A.T.[N 2]
- Small Wonder (production company, 1985–1986)
- Soul Train (syndicated by Tribune Entertainment then Trifecta Entertainment and Media)
- Star Search (production company, 1983–1986)[N 1]
- Starsky and Hutch[N 2]
- Strange Paradise
- Strike Force[N 1]
- The Super (1972)
- T.J. Hooker[N 2]
- That Girl (distributor)[N 10]
- Thicke of the Night (distributor)[N 6]
- Too Close for Comfort (1980-1987) (co-produced with D.L. Taffner Productions)
- Truth or Consequences (distributor, 1966–1978) (co-produced with Ralph Edwards Productions)
- The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
- Untamed World
- Vega$ (1978-1981) (distributor)[N 1]
- Wild Times (1980; mini-series)
- Winchell-Mahoney Time (1965-1968)[N 11]
- Wonderama (1955-1977, 1980-1983)
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