Big Three television networks

The Big Three television networks are the three major traditional commercial broadcast television networks in the United States: the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), CBS (formerly known as the Columbia Broadcasting System) and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Until the 80's, the Big Three networks dominated U.S. television.[1]


The National Broadcasting Company and Columbia Broadcasting System were both founded as radio networks in the 1920s, with NBC eventually encompassing two national radio networks, the prestige Red Network and the lower-profile Blue Network. They gradually began experimental television stations in the 1930s, with commercial broadcasts being allowed by the Federal Communications Commission on July 1, 1941.[2] In 1943, the U.S. government determined that NBC's two-network setup was anticompetitive and forced it to spin off one of the networks; NBC chose to sell the Blue Network operations, which became the American Broadcasting Company.[3]

All three networks began regular, commercial television broadcasts in the 1940s. NBC and CBS began commercial operations in 1941, followed by the DuMont Television Network in 1944 and ABC in 1948.[4] The three networks originally controlled only a few local television stations, but they swiftly affiliated with other stations to cover almost the entire United States by the late 1950s. Several of these stations affiliated with all three major networks and DuMont, or some combination of the four, in markets where only one or two television stations operated in the early years of commercial television; this resulted in several network shows, often those with lower national viewership, receiving scattershot market clearances, since in addition to maintaining limited broadcast schedules early on, affiliates that shoehorned programming from multiple networks had to also make room for locally produced content. As other stations signed on in larger cities, ABC, NBC, and CBS were eventually able to carry at least a sizeable portion of their programming on one station.

Of the four original networks, only DuMont did not have a corresponding radio network. Conversely, the fourth major radio network of the era, the Mutual Broadcasting System, never attempted to enter television, although its component stations launched television outlets in their home cities, nor did it pursue any sort of affiliation with its television-only counterpart, DuMont. Some of Mutual's component stations bought a stake in the Overmyer Network in 1967, but other than a single late-night talk show, The Las Vegas Show, which that lasted one month, that network never made it to its full launch.

Network competition

Early era

For most of the history of television in the United States, the Big Three dominated, controlling the vast majority of television broadcasting.[5] DuMont ceased regular programming in 1955; the NTA Film Network, unusual in that its programming, all pre-recorded, was distributed by mail instead of through communications wires, signed on in 1956 and lasted until 1961. From 1961, and lasting until the early 1990s, there were only three major networks. Every hit series appearing in the Nielsen top 20 television programs and every successful commercial network telecast of a major feature film was aired by one of the Big Three networks.[6]

There were attempts by other companies, such as the Overmyer Network, to enter the television medium, but all of these ventures lasted only for brief periods. The prohibitive cost of starting a broadcast network, coupled with the difficulty of competing with the massive distribution of the Big Three networks, and the infancy and complexities of UHF broadcasting before cable television became commonplace in the 1980s, led to the downfall of almost all new network ventures; most media markets were limited to no more than three VHF channels, and even after the All-Channel Receiver Act was passed in 1961, the VHF stations were far more efficient and their signals could reach a greater range than their UHF counterparts. As the Big Three networks had already affiliated with most of the more desirable VHF stations, and the full-service approach of the time meant that the networks programmed almost the entire broadcast day, leaving little room for even off-prime-time programming, that left any upstart network to settle for the inferior UHF outlets. Those networks that could have had the resources to compete, such as Canada's CTV Television Network, which briefly attempted an American expansion via WNYB (channel 26 in Buffalo, New York, now a religious station), were forced off the air through legal threats.


A viable fourth television network in the commercial sense would not again become competitive with the Big Three until Fox was founded in October 1986 from some of the assets and remnants of the DuMont network, which had become Metromedia after DuMont folded, and were acquired by News Corporation earlier in 1986[7]. Fox, which began as a distant fourth network, leapfrogged into major network status in 1994 after must-carry rules took effect; the rules allowed Fox affiliates to force their way onto cable lineups, and the network's affiliation deal with New World Communications, which it later purchased in 1996, and the acquisition of National Football League broadcast rights brought a wave of new Fox affiliates.

Since its founding, Fox has surpassed ABC and NBC in the ratings during the early primetime hours in which it competes against the longer established networks, becoming the second most-watched network behind CBS during the 2000s. During the 2007-08 season, Fox was the highest-rated of the major broadcast networks, as well as the first non-Big Three network to reach first place, but it lost the spot in the 2008-09 season and dropped to a close second. From 2004 to 2012, Fox also dominated U.S. television in the lucrative and viewer-rich 18-49 demographics, in large part due to the success of its NFL coverage and its top rated prime time program, American Idol. Given the network's success in its prime time and sports offerings, it has been occasionally included with the Big Three, in which case the phrase "Big Four" is used.

Although Fox has firmly established itself as the nation's fourth major network with its ratings success, it is not considered part of the Big Three. Among Fox's differences with the Big Three is its reduced weekday programming. It lacks national morning and evening news programs; Fox has a news division consisting of cable and radio operations, but does not provide content for the broadcast television network other than a weekly news analysis program, limited special breaking news reports and an affiliate news service for its stations called Fox News Edge. Fox does not feature any daytime programming, a third hour of primetime, late-night talk shows, and Saturday morning children's programming. Fox had an extensive lineup of children's programs throughout the 1990s called Fox Kids, but sold the division to The Walt Disney Company in 2001 as part of its sale of cable network Fox Family Channel, after which 4Kids Entertainment supplied the network's children's lineup until 2009.

Outside prime time, Fox affiliates either produce their own programming or run syndicated shows. Fox is also the only one of the four major networks to include a regular block of infomercials on its lineup, via the Weekend Marketplace Saturday morning block.

Fifth networks

Other networks eventually launched in an attempt to compete with the Big Three as well as Fox, although these "netlets" have been unable to ascend to the same level of success. The WB[8] and UPN launched in January 1995; like Fox, they both added nights of prime time programming over the course of a few years, although The WB was the only one that aired any on weekends, carrying a Sunday night lineup for all but its first half-season on the air.

Both networks mainly aired only prime time and children's programming. The latter was the only form of weekday daytime programming offered by either one, although UPN discontinued its children's lineup in 2003 at the conclusion of a content deal with Disney, and UPN aired sports programming via the short-lived XFL, as well as WWF SmackDown!.

While The WB and UPN each had a handful of popular series during their existences, they struggled for overall viewership and financial losses. This led their respective parent companies, CBS Corporation and Time Warner, to shut them down in September 2006 to jointly launch The CW,[9] which initially featured a mix of programs from both predecessors as well as some newer shows.

Fox launched MyNetworkTV at the same time as The CW, with a lineup of English language telenovelas;[10] it later shifted toward unscripted programs and movies, though its persistent lack of ratings success led News Corporation to convert it into a programming service, relying on a lineup of acquired series, in 2009.[11]


Likewise, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which has existed since 1970, is not considered part of the "big three" networks. PBS operates as a noncommercial service with a much different distribution model compared to the major networks; its member stations in essence own the network rather than the traditional mode of a network owning some of its stations and affiliating with additional stations owned by other broadcasters, and it maintains memberships with more than one educational station in a few markets. Prior to the 1990s, some commercial broadcast networks had affiliations with two stations in a few markets, with both stations carrying a share of the network's programming lineups.

Market share

Today, the "Big Three" control only a relatively small portion of the broadcasting market in the United States; in 2005, its share was estimated at a combined 32%.[1] The Big Three's market share has dwindled considerably as a result of growing competition from broadcast networks such as Fox, The CW and MyNetworkTV and more recently Spanish language networks such as Univision and Telemundo, as well as national cable and satellite channels such as TNT, ESPN and AMC, and Internet services such as Netflix.[1]

Big Three affiliate stations

The following is a list of television stations in the United States that have had primary network affiliations, at one point or another, with all of ABC, CBS or NBC.

Market Station (PSIP Channel) Networks (Years of affiliation) Current affiliation Notes
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York WTRI/WAST/WNYT (13) ABC (1955-1977)
CBS (1954-1955; 1977-1981)
NBC (1981–present)
NBC (1981–present) Originally operated on channel 35 from 1954 to 1958.
Bakersfield, California KLYD/KJTV/KPWR/KGET (17) ABC (1959-1974)
CBS (1974-1984)
NBC (1984–present)
NBC (1984–present)
KERO (23) NBC (1953-1984)
CBS (1984-1996)
ABC (1996–present)
ABC (1996–present) Originally operated on channel 10 from 1953 to 1963.
Baltimore, Maryland WMAR (2) CBS (1947-1981)
NBC (1981-1995)
ABC (1995–present)
ABC (1995–present)
Birmingham, Alabama WBRC (6) NBC (1949-1954)
CBS (1954-1961)
ABC (1961-1996)
Fox (1996–present) Only station in the United States to be a primary affiliate to all Big Four networks over the course of its history.
Boston, Massachusetts WNAC/WNEV/WHDH (7) CBS (1948-1961; 1972-1995)
ABC (1961-1972)
NBC (1995–2017)
Independent (2017–present) One of two stations in the United States to have been an independent station and also carried affiliations with ABC, CBS, and NBC throughout its history.
WNAC-TV operated on channel 7 from 1948 to 1982, after which it lost its license to WHDH.
Denver, Colorado KBTV/KUSA (9) CBS (1952-1953)
ABC (1956-1995)
NBC (1995–present)
NBC (1995–present) Served as a DuMont network affiliate for the Denver market, from 1953 to 1956.
Green Bay, Wisconsin WNAM/WFRV (5) ABC (1953-1959; 1983-1992)
NBC (1959-1983)
CBS (1992–present)
CBS (1992–present)
Indianapolis, Indiana WTTV (4) NBC (1949-1956)
ABC (1956-1957)
CBS (2015–present)
CBS (2015–present) Originally operated on channel 10 from 1949 to 1954.
Only station in the United States to have been an independent station and also carried affiliations with ABC, CBS, NBC, UPN, The WB, and The CW throughout its history.
WFBM/WRTV (6) CBS (1949-1956)
NBC (1956-1979)
ABC (1979–present)
ABC (1979–present)
Knoxville, Tennessee WSKT/WTVK/WKXT/WVLT (8) CBS (1953-1956; 1988–present)
ABC (1956-1979)
NBC (1979-1988)
CBS (1988–present) Originally operated on channel 26 from 1953 to 1988.
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina WRAL (5) NBC (1956-1962; 2016–present)
ABC (1962-1985)
CBS (1985–2016)
NBC (2016–present)
Rockford, Illinois WREX (13) CBS (1953-1965)
ABC (1965-1995)
NBC (1995–present)
NBC (1995–present)
Salt Lake City, Utah KUTV (2) ABC (1954-1960)
NBC (1960-1995)
CBS (1995–present)
CBS (1995–present)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Douglas Blanks Hindman; Kenneth Wiegand (2008). "The big three's prime-time decline: a technological and social context" (PDF). Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  2. ^ Jeff Kisseloff (1995). The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1920-1961. New York: Viking. pp. 42–48, 69–79. ISBN 0-670-86470-6.
  3. ^ Jeff Kisseloff (1995). The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1920-1961. New York: Viking. p. 505. ISBN 0-670-86470-6.
  4. ^ H. Castleman; W. Podrazik (1982). Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 314.
  5. ^ Schneider, Michael. "Most-Watched Television Networks: Ranking 2016's Winners and Losers | IndieWire". Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  6. ^ Alex McNeil (1996). Total Television, 4th edition. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 1143–1161. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
  7. ^ "Murdoch acquired six Metromedia TV stations". Los Angeles Times. March 7, 1986. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  8. ^ "Time Warner TV Network to Cover 40% of Nation". The Buffalo News. HighBeam Research. November 2, 1993. Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  9. ^ "UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network". The New York Times. January 24, 2006.
  10. ^ "News Corp. Unveils My Network TV". Broadcasting & Cable. February 22, 2006.
  11. ^ Michael Malone (February 9, 2009). "MyNetworkTV Shifts From Network to Programming Service". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved September 23, 2012.
21st Primetime Emmy Awards

The 21st Emmy Awards—also known since 1974 as the 21st Primetime Emmy Awards—were handed out on June 8, 1969. The ceremony was co-hosted by Bill Cosby and Merv Griffin.

The top shows of the night were Get Smart, which won Outstanding Comedy Series for the second consecutive year, and Outstanding Dramatic Series winner NET Playhouse. NET Playhouse, from the PBS predecessor National Educational Television Network, became the first show outside the Big Three television networks to win a top series award.

Due to several categories being combined for the ceremony, no show received more than two major wins. The most drastic rule change was that all shows that had aired more than two seasons were ineligible. The cause of this change was due to the rise in repeat winners in recent years. There was no winner in the category of Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, because the judges felt that none of the nominees were worthy of an award.

22nd Primetime Emmy Awards

The 22nd Emmy Awards, later known as the 22nd Primetime Emmy Awards, were handed out on June 7, 1970. The ceremony was hosted by David Frost and Danny Thomas. Winners are listed in bold and series' networks are in parentheses.

The top shows of the night were My World and Welcome to It, and Marcus Welby, M.D.. Marcus Welby, M.D., and Room 222 each won three major awards. My World and Welcome to It won Outstanding Comedy Series, but was cancelled after its first season. It is currently the most recent series to win for Outstanding Comedy Series in the show's one and only season. Another oddity in the Outstanding Comedy Series category was that not one show nominated the previous year was nominated this year. This marks the last time that either series category (comedy or drama) has had this occur.

Susan Hampshire from The Forsyte Saga became the first Lead Actress, Drama to win outside the Big Three television networks - from the NET network.

23rd Primetime Emmy Awards

The 23rd Emmy Awards, later known as the 23rd Primetime Emmy Awards, were handed out on May 9, 1971. The ceremony was hosted by Johnny Carson. Winners are listed in bold and series' networks are in parentheses.

The top shows of the night were All in the Family and The Bold Ones: The Senator. The Bold Ones: The Senator, along with other shows, had the most major nominations (nine) and wins (four) on the night.

Actress Lee Grant set an Emmy milestone when she joined the exclusive club of actors who were nominated for two performances in the same acting category. She won the award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, for her performance in The Neon Ceiling, she was also nominated for an episode of Columbo.

Susan Hampshire became PBS' first win in the Lead Actress, Drama category, for The First Churchills, as well as being the network's first ever Acting win. (Hampshire also won in the same category, the previous year, again beating the Big Three television networks, but from the NET network, a network which dissolved within a year, but became the direct predecessor for PBS.)

David Burns became the second posthumous performance in Emmy history to win, for ITV Sunday Night Theatre.

48th Primetime Emmy Awards

The 48th Primetime Emmy Awards were held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. The awards were presented over two ceremonies, one untelevised on September 7, 1996, and other televised on September 8, 1996. It was hosted by Michael J. Fox, Paul Reiser, and Oprah Winfrey. Two networks, A&E and AMC, received their first major nominations this year.

Frasier took home Outstanding Comedy Series for the third straight year, and won two major awards overall. In the drama field, ER came into the ceremony as the most nominated drama for the second straight year with eleven major nominations, it defeated defending champion NYPD Blue to win Outstanding Drama Series. This turned out to be the only major award ER won. No show won more than two major awards.

The HBO comedy The Larry Sanders Show made Emmy history when it became the first show outside the Big Three television networks to receive the most major nominations (12). Furthermore, Rip Torn won the Supporting Comedy actor award, the first for HBO.

Another first came with Amanda Plummer for Showtime's The Outer Limits. Not only was it the first time a cable network won in her category (Guest Actress, Drama) but was Showtime's first ever Acting Emmy win.

For the twelfth and final season of Murder, She Wrote, Angela Lansbury was once again nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, she had been nominated for every season of the show, but she was defeated once again. In the process she set records for being the most nominated actress in the category (18), as well as the most nominated actress without winning. Both of these records still stand.

53rd Primetime Emmy Awards

The 53rd Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Sunday, November 4, 2001, seven weeks later than originally scheduled. The ceremony was rescheduled twice from its original date of September 16 at the Shrine Auditorium because of the September 11, 2001 attacks that occurred five days prior to the event. It was also removed from its rescheduled date of October 7 again at the same venue as a result of the start of the War in Afghanistan. The event was then relocated to the smaller Shubert Theater. The Shubert had previously hosted the 1973 and 1976 ceremonies, and would be demolished in 2002. The ceremony was hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and was broadcast on CBS.

Barbra Streisand sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" in a surprise appearance at the close, in honor of the victims of the attacks.Sex and the City became the first premium channel show to win Outstanding Comedy Series; this was its only major award. The NBC cult hit Freaks and Geeks accomplished a rare feat: though it only ran for one season, it was nominated in two different years for writing. The episode "Bowling" made Malcolm in the Middle just the second show, and first comedy, to have two different episodes win awards for directing and writing. The Defenders was the first show to do this in 1963 and 1965. (Specific episodes were not nominated in the comedy categories until the late 1960s.) Meanwhile, Frasier, now in its eighth season, earned its final Outstanding Comedy Series nomination after eight consecutive nominations including five consecutive wins (seasons 1–5).

For his portrayal of John Cage in Ally McBeal, Peter MacNicol won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, the first in this category for Fox and the first in this category for any show outside the Big Three television networks.

In the drama field, The West Wing won Outstanding Drama Series for its second straight year and led all shows with four major awards on the night. The Sopranos led all shows with 15 major nominations and was second to The West Wing with three major wins.

Mike Nichols' win made him the ninth person to become an EGOT winner.

All-Channel Receiver Act

The All-Channel Receiver Act of 1962 (ACRA) (47 U.S.C. § 303(s)), commonly known as the All-Channels Act, was passed by the United States Congress in 1961, to allow the Federal Communications Commission to require that all television set manufacturers must include UHF tuners, so that new UHF-band TV stations (then channels 14 to 83) could be received by the public. This was a problem at the time since the Big Three television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) were well-established on VHF, while many local-only stations on UHF were struggling for survival.

The All-Channel Receiver Act provides that the Federal Communications Commission shall "have authority to require that apparatus designed to receive television pictures broadcast simultaneously with sound be capable of adequately receiving all frequencies allocated by the Commission to television broadcasting." Under authority provided by the All Channel Receiver Act, the FCC adopted a number of technical standards to increase parity between the UHF and VHF television services, including a 14dB maximum UHF noise figure for television receivers.

CBS Sunday Movie

The CBS Sunday Movie (also known at various times as the CBS Sunday Night Movie) was a weekly made-for-TV and feature film showcase series carried by CBS until the end of the 2005-06 television season, when it was replaced with drama series. It was the last of the weekly Sunday night movie showcases aired by the Big Three television networks to be canceled, outside of special event premieres and the network's previous run of the Hallmark Hall of Fame film anthology.

Financial Interest and Syndication Rules

The Financial Interest and Syndication Rules, widely known as the fin-syn rules, were a set of rules imposed by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States in 1970. The FCC sought to prevent the Big Three television networks from monopolizing the broadcast landscape by preventing them from owning any of the programming that they aired in prime time. The rules also prohibited networks from airing syndicated programming they had a financial stake in. The rules changed the power relationships between networks and television producers, who often had to agree to exorbitant profit participation in order to have their shows aired. Some argue the rules brought about a golden era of independent television production by companies such as MTM Enterprises (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Norman Lear's Tandem Productions (All in the Family). Others argue the rules made the work of independent television production companies much more difficult because smaller companies could never afford the deficit financing required unless they received network assistance. The rules also led to the destruction of numerous older television tapes in the 1970s; what could not be sold or given away to an independent syndicator was thrown out or recycled to recover silver content.Controversial from the very beginning, the fin-syn rule was relaxed slightly during the 1980s. Following the severe changes in the television landscape, such as the rise of the Fox network and cable television, the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules were abolished completely in 1993.It was the repeal of fin-syn that ultimately made newer broadcast networks such as UPN and The WB financially interesting for their highly vertically integrated parent media conglomerates Paramount Pictures (Viacom) and Time Warner, respectively.

On average, the number of shows that have been broadcast during prime time by the three main networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) per season has ranged between 63 and 75 shows between the 1987-88 and 2001-02 seasons. In the 1987-88 season, out of a total of 66 primetime shows that were broadcast, there were no such shows in which the network was either a producer or a co-producer. This number rose steadily to the point that during the 1992-93 season, there were about six shows out of a total of 67 shows produced or co-produced by the network; however as a result of the repeal of the fin-syn rules, this figure jumped to 11 the following year, whilst the total number of shows was barely 73. For the 2001-02 season, this figure rose to 20 shows that were network produced – a change from 0%, to 9%, to 15% and from there to 20% – over two decades.Today, four of the five major networks have an affiliated syndication company:

ABC – Disney-ABC Domestic Television

CBS – CBS Television Distribution

NBC – NBCUniversal Television Distribution

The CW – Warner Bros. Television Distribution/CBS Television Distribution20th Television had been a sister company to the Fox network until the Murdoch family spun off their broadcasting assets before selling 21st Century Fox to The Walt Disney Company.

Closely related to fin-syn, the Prime Time Access Rule sought to strengthen local and independent producers by preventing affiliates from airing network programming during much of the early evening hours. This rule was eliminated on August 30, 1996. However, the period remains largely unclaimed by the networks due to the success of syndicated programs such as Entertainment Tonight and Wheel of Fortune.

Fred Silverman

Fred Silverman (born September 13, 1937) is an American television executive and producer. He worked as an executive at all of the Big Three television networks, and was responsible for bringing to television such programs as the series Scooby-Doo (1969–present), All in the Family (1971–1979), The Waltons (1972–1981), and Charlie's Angels (1976–1981), as well as the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976), Roots (1977) and Shōgun (1980). For his success in programming wildly popular shows, Time magazine declared him "the man with the Golden gut" in 1977.

Fringe time

Fringe time can be used to describe two dayparts in American television programming: the hour leading into prime time ("early fringe"), and the program slot following late local news ("late fringe" and "post-late fringe"). For the sake of clarity, this article focuses primarily on the early fringe; see the article on late night television for an in-depth discussion of the late fringe slots.

During the first two decades of American television, the early fringe was considered a part of prime time, which began programming a half-hour earlier than it did in the present day. In 1971, in an effort to loosen the hegemony the Big Three television networks had on television in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission implemented two rules, the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (fin-syn), which prohibited the networks from owning interests in syndicators; and the Prime Time Access Rule, which prohibited networks from programming a one-hour slot in the evening hour, the slot now known as fringe time.

The intent of the new rules was to encourage individual station licensees to produce more local programming. In practice, this failed, and the slot was (and largely remains) dominated by syndicated programming. Game shows already airing in daytime on the Big Three networks quickly filled many of the new slots, ostensibly funneled through syndicators but produced on the same sets with most of the same personnel (except sometimes a different host) as their network counterparts, defeating much of the purpose of the new rule. One such program, Wheel of Fortune, has survived in syndication since that era, outlasting the show's network run. Sister program Jeopardy!, after a failed attempt at syndication in 1974 near the end of its network run, returned as an independent show a decade later, with both it and Wheel being fringe time fixtures in the decades since.

Although during the early days of these new rules, local stations typically carried a hodge-podge of weekly shows, by the 1980s almost all fringe time programming was stripped at least five and sometimes six days a week, a pattern that remains to the present day.

Other formats that filled fringe time over the years include newsmagazines (mostly syndicated entertainment-based programs), music-based shows (such as Hee Haw, Solid Gold, America's Top Ten, and Dance Fever), and off-network reruns, usually sitcoms. Local news, occasionally seen in the time slot in the early years of television, has seen a renaissance in the time slot in the 21st century. Occasionally other formats more commonly seen in daytime such as talk shows or court shows are used to program the slot, but because it leads into the network prime time lineups, these shows are expected to be highly rated and retain a large audience, and thus only the highest-rated shows in these genera (such as Judge Judy) are ever used in this manner.

Both fin-syn and the Prime Time Access Rule have since been repealed; the networks, although they have reacquired most of the syndicators they were forced to spin off, have never resumed directly programming the fringe time slots they were forced to abandon.

Independent stations and non-Big Three network affiliates, because they lack access to network late-night shows, have had to program both the early fringe and the late fringe with similar approaches.

Katie Couric

Katherine Anne Couric ( KURR-ik; born January 7, 1957) is an American journalist and author. She recently served as Yahoo's Global News Anchor. Couric has been a television host on all Big Three television networks in the United States, and in her early career was an Assignment Editor for CNN. She worked for NBC News from 1989 to 2006, CBS News from 2006 to 2011, and ABC News from 2011 to 2014. In addition to her television news roles, she hosted Katie, a syndicated daytime talk show produced by Disney–ABC Domestic Television from September 10, 2012, to June 9, 2014. Some of her most important notable roles include co-host of Today, anchor of the CBS Evening News, and correspondent for 60 Minutes. She also reported for nearly every television news broadcast across ABC, CBS and NBC. Couric's 2011 book, The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives, was a New York Times best-seller. In 2004, Couric earned induction into the Television Hall of Fame.


NBCUniversal Media, LLC is an American worldwide mass media conglomerate owned by Comcast and headquartered at Rockefeller Plaza's Comcast Building in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is one of two successor companies to MCA Inc., the other being Vivendi through its subsidiary Universal Music Group.

NBCUniversal is primarily involved in the media and entertainment industry; among its most significant divisions are the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), one of the United States' "Big Three" television networks, and the film studio Universal Pictures. It also has a significant presence in broadcasting through a portfolio of domestic and international properties, including terrestrial and pay television outlets. Via its Universal Parks & Resorts division, NBCUniversal is also the third-largest operator of amusement parks in the world.NBCUniversal was formed in 2004 with the merger of General Electric's NBC with Vivendi Universal's film and television subsidiary Vivendi Universal Entertainment, after GE had acquired 80% of the subsidiary, giving Vivendi a 20% share of the new company. In 2011, Comcast attained 51% and thereby the control of newly reformed NBCUniversal, by purchasing shares from GE, while GE bought out Vivendi. Since 2013, the company is wholly owned by Comcast, which bought GE's ownership stake.

Overmyer Network

The Overmyer Network/United Network was a television network. It was intended to be a fourth national commercial network in the United States, competing with the Big Three television networks. The network was founded by self-made millionaire Daniel H. Overmyer, who started WDHO-TV (now WNWO-TV, an NBC affiliate), in his birthplace, Toledo, Ohio, which signed on the air on May 3, 1966. Overmyer had construction permits for several other UHF stations that were intended to be owned-and-operated stations of the new network. Majority interest in those stations was sold to AVC Corporation in March of 1967. 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). Under the leadership of former ABC television president Oliver Treyz, the ON was scheduled to debut in the fall of 1967 with anywhere from 75 to 125 affiliates with an 8 hour broadcasting day.


A Portapak is a battery-powered, self-contained video tape analog recording system. Introduced to the market in 1967, it could be carried and operated by one person.

Earlier television cameras were large and heavy, required a specialized vehicle for transportation, and were mounted on a pedestal. The Portapak made it possible to shoot and record video easily outside of the studio without requiring a crew. Although it recorded at a lower quality than television studio cameras, the Portapak was adopted by both professionals and amateurs as a new method of video recording. Before Portapak cameras, remote television news footage was routinely photographed on 16mm film and telecined for broadcast.The first portapak system, the Sony DV-2400 Video Rover, was a two-piece set consisting of a black-and-white composite video video camera and a separate record-only helical scan ½" video tape recorder (VTR) unit. It required a Sony CV series VTR (such as the CV-2000) to play back the video. Following Sony’s introduction of the Video Rover, numerous other manufacturers sold their own versions of Portapak technology. Although it was light enough for a single person to carry and use, it was usually operated by a crew of two: one carrying and controlling the camera, and one carrying and operating the VTR.This model was followed up by the AV-3400/AVC-3400, which used the EIAJ-1 format, and had 30-minute capacity, as well as playback capability. Later Portapaks by Sony, JVC, and others used such formats as U-Matic videocassettes (with reduced-size 20-minute "U-Matic S" cassettes) and Betacam SP (for which a Portapak, unlike a camera-mounted deck, allowed the use of the larger "L" cassettes, for up to 90-minute recording time).The introduction of the Portapak had a great influence on the development of video art, guerrilla television, and activism. Video collectives such as TVTV and the Videofreex utilized Portapak technology to document countercultural movements apart from the Big Three television networks. The Portapak was also a crucial technology for the Raindance Foundation, a collective consisting of artists, academics, and scientists, motivated by the potential of the Portapak and video to develop alternative forms of communication. Because of its relative affordability and immediate playback capability, the Portapak provided artists, experimenters, and social commentators the ability to make and distribute videos apart from well-funded production companies.

A generation whose childhood had been dominated by broadcast television was now able to get its hands on a means of TV production. The machine was relatively inexpensive ($1,500), light- weight, easy to use and reliable, and it produced a decent black-and-white image with acceptable audio. Tape was reusable and inexpensive. The video portapak helped trigger a range of activity linking video with social change.

The Portapak would seem to have been invented specifically for use by artists. Just when pure formalism had run its course; just when it became politically embarrassing to make objects, but ludicrous to make nothing; just when many artists were doing performance works but had nowhere to perform, or felt the need to keep a record of their performances; just when it began to seem silly to ask the same old Berkleean question, ‘If you build a sculpture in the desert where no one can see it, does it exist?’; just when it became clear that TV communicates more information to more people than large walls do; just when we understood that in order to define space it is necessary to encompass time; just when many established ideas in other disciplines were being questioned and new models were proposed — just then the Portapak became available.

Speed Buggy

Speed Buggy is an American animated television series, produced by Hanna-Barbera, which originally aired for one season on CBS from September 8, 1973 to December 22, 1973. With the voices of Mel Blanc, Michael Bell, Arlene Golonka and Phil Luther Jr., the show follows an orange anthropomorphic dune buggy who alongside teenagers Debbie, Mark, and Tinker, solves mysteries while participating in racing competitions around the world. The series was produced by Iwao Takamoto, executive produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and directed by Charles A. Nichols.

The series was originally developed under the working titles Speed Bug and Speed Buggs before it was settled as Speed Buggy. Takamoto was less involved with the series due to the trust he had for storyboard and animation artist Bob Singer. The concept for the show was inspired by the 1968 Walt Disney Pictures film The Love Bug and the Speed Racer anime franchise. Several of the storylines and plots originated on Hanna-Barbera's other animated series Josie & the Pussycats.

Speed Buggy lasted for one season with a total of sixteen episodes. Despite its short run, it was broadcast on the Big Three television networks years after its original run as the channels had purchased syndication rights. It was speculated that the series acquired a fan base due to its frequent rotation on American television. Critical response to Speed Buggy was generally positive; some critics enjoyed its shared themes with Josie & the Pussycats and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, while others found it unmemorable and overly repetitive. It has since been released on DVD as part of Warner Bros.' Archive Collection on a four disc set.

The Pope Must Die

The Pope Must Die (U.S. alternate title The Pope Must Diet!) is a 1991 comedy film directed by Peter Richardson and released by Palace Pictures with the backing of Channel 4 Films. The script was written by Richardson with Pete Richens, derived from elements of an earlier screenplay for a three-part mini-series satirising the Catholic Church, which was rejected by Channel 4. The Pope Must Die stars Robbie Coltrane as a low ranking priest who is mistakenly elected Pope, then has to avoid being assassinated by the Mafia. The film co-stars Adrian Edmondson, Annette Crosbie, Herbert Lom, Alex Rocco and Richardson.

The film was originally planned as a part of a three-part mini series for Channel 4, which was cancelled by the station after press outcry. This led Richardson to sever his long relationship with Channel 4 and move his future productions to the BBC. The budget for the film was later approved by Palace Pictures with the backing of Channel 4 Films.

The production was filmed in 1990 in the former Yugoslavia on a budget of £2.5 million.

The film's subject matter was controversial, which caused the distributors serious difficulties with its promotion, London Transport refusing to carry advertising for it until the film's posters were censored. In the United States the Big Three television networks refused to show commercials for the film, which they said was sacrilegious and offensive. Many newspapers in the US also censored or refused to carry advertising for the film.

The film was released to mixed reviews, and struggled at the box office, failing to make back its budget at the cinema.

The film was released on VHS but it is not currently available on DVD or Blu-ray.

The Price Is Right (1956 U.S. game show)

The Price Is Right is an American game show where contestants made successive bids on merchandise prizes with the goal of bidding closest to the actual retail price of the prize without going over. The show was a precursor to the current and best-known version of the show, which premiered in 1972 on CBS' daytime schedule. This makes The Price Is Right one of only a few game shows that have aired in some form across all three of what were then the Big Three television networks.

The series premiered on NBC's daytime schedule on November 26, 1956, and quickly spawned a primetime series that aired once a week. The Price Is Right became one of the few game shows to survive the rigging scandals of the late 1950s, and gained even more popularity after other game shows exposed for being rigged had been cancelled.

In 1963, The Price Is Right switched networks and both the daytime and primetime series moved to ABC. On September 3, 1965, the show aired its final episode after nearly nine years on the air.


The Videofreex were a pioneering video collective who used the Sony Portapak for countercultural video projects from 1969 to 1978. They were founded in 1969 by David Cort, Mary Curtis Ratcliff and Parry Teasdale, after Cort and Teasdale met each other at the Woodstock Music Festival. They were based out of a 17 bedroom house in the Catskill Mountains named the Maple Tree Farm. In order to receive an initial grant of $40,000 from The New York State Council of the Arts, the Videofreex rebranded itself as the non-profit "Media Bus".Michael Shamberg, author of Guerrilla Television and founding member of TVTV, remarked, "The Freex are the most production oriented of the video groups […] in terms of finished, cleanly edited, high quality tape, which is generally quite entertaining, the Videofreex are clearly the best."Mirroring the beliefs outlined in Guerrilla Television, they believed they could turn the medium of television, at the time dominated by The "Big Three" Television Networks, into a more democratic medium and in 1972 they launched the first pirate television station, Lanesville TV, using a transmitter given to them by Abbie Hoffman.The Videofreex Archive, containing more than 1,500 original tapes, is housed at the Video Data Bank. Work is underway to preserve important titles from the Archive and make them available through distribution.

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