CBS (an acronym of the network's former name, the Columbia Broadcasting System) is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City (at the CBS Broadcast Center) and Los Angeles (at CBS Television City and the CBS Studio Center).
CBS is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network", in reference to the company's iconic logo, in use since 1951. It has also been called the "Tiffany Network", alluding to the perceived high quality of CBS programming during the tenure of William S. Paley. It can also refer to some of CBS's first demonstrations of color television, which were held in a former Tiffany & Co. building in New York City in 1950.
The network has its origins in United Independent Broadcasters Inc., a collection of 16 radio stations that was purchased by Paley in 1928 and renamed the Columbia Broadcasting System. Under Paley's guidance, CBS would first become one of the largest radio networks in the United States, and eventually one of the Big Three American broadcast television networks. In 1974, CBS dropped its former full name and became known simply as CBS, Inc. The Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquired the network in 1995, renamed its corporate entity to the current CBS Broadcasting, Inc. in 1997, and eventually adopted the name of the company it had acquired to become CBS Corporation. In 2000, CBS came under the control of Viacom, which was formed as a spin-off of CBS in 1971. In late 2005, Viacom split itself into two separate companies and re-established CBS Corporation – through the spin-off of its broadcast television, radio, and select cable television and non-broadcasting assets – with the CBS television network at its core. CBS Corporation is controlled by Sumner Redstone through National Amusements, which also controls the current Viacom.
CBS formerly operated the CBS Radio network until 2017, when they brought and merged their radio division with Entercom. Prior to then, CBS Radio mainly provided news and features content for its portfolio owned-and-operated radio stations in large and mid-sized markets, and affiliated radio stations in various other markets. Despite CBS owning a 72% stake, CBS O&O stations no longer owns any radio stations, though CBS still provides its news to its radio affiliates and the new owners of their former radio stations. The television network has more than 240 owned-and-operated and affiliated television stations throughout the United States.
First air date
|January 18, 1929|
September 18, 1927 |
by Arthur Judson
|TV stations||By state|
|Radio stations||By state|
|Headquarters||CBS Building, New York City, New York, United States|
|Owner||CBS Corporation (National Amusements)|
|Group||List of assets owned by CBS|
|Replaced||United Independent Broadcasters, Inc.|
The origins of CBS date back to January 27, 1927, with the creation of the "United Independent Broadcasters" network in Chicago by New York City talent-agent Arthur Judson. The fledgling network soon needed additional investors though, and the Columbia Phonograph Company, manufacturers of Columbia Records, rescued it in April 1927; as a result, the network was renamed the "Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System" on September 18 of that year. Columbia Phonographic went on the air on September 18, 1927, with a presentation by the Howard L. Barlow Orchestra from flagship station WOR in Newark, New Jersey, and fifteen affiliates.
Operational costs were steep, particularly the payments to AT&T for use of its land lines, and by the end of 1927, Columbia Phonograph wanted out. In early 1928 Judson sold the network to brothers Isaac and Leon Levy, owners of the network's Philadelphia affiliate WCAU, and their partner Jerome Louchheim. None of the three were interested in assuming day-to-day management of the network, so they installed wealthy 26-year-old William S. Paley, son of a Philadelphia cigar family and in-law of the Levys, as president. With the record company out of the picture, Paley quickly streamlined the corporate name to "Columbia Broadcasting System". He believed in the power of radio advertising since his family's "La Palina" cigars had doubled their sales after young William convinced his elders to advertise on radio. By September 1928, Paley bought out the Louchhheim share of CBS and became its majority owner with 51% of the business.
During Louchheim's brief regime, Columbia paid $410,000 to A.H. Grebe's Atlantic Broadcasting Company for a small Brooklyn station, WABC (no relation to the current WABC), which would become the network's flagship station. WABC was quickly upgraded, and the signal relocated to 860 kHz. The physical plant was relocated also – to Steinway Hall on West 57th Street in Manhattan, where much of CBS's programming would originate. By the turn of 1929, the network could boast to sponsors of having 47 affiliates.
Paley moved right away to put his network on a firmer financial footing. In the fall of 1928, he entered into talks with Adolph Zukor of Paramount Pictures, who planned to move into radio in response to RCA's forays into motion pictures with the advent of talkies. The deal came to fruition in September 1929: Paramount acquired 49% of CBS in return for a block of its stock worth $3.8 million at the time. The agreement specified that Paramount would buy that same stock back by March 1, 1932 for a flat $5 million, provided CBS had earned $2 million during 1931 and 1932. For a brief time there was talk that the network might be renamed "Paramount Radio", but it only lasted a month – the 1929 stock market crash sent all stock value tumbling. It galvanized Paley and his troops, who "had no alternative but to turn the network around and earn the $2,000,000 in two years.... This is the atmosphere in which the CBS of today was born." The near-bankrupt movie studio sold its CBS shares back to CBS in 1932. In the first year of Paley's watch, CBS's gross earnings more than tripled, going from $1.4 million to $4.7 million.
Much of the increase was a result of Paley's second upgrade to the CBS business plan – improved affiliate relations. There were two types of program at the time: sponsored and sustaining, i.e., unsponsored. Rival NBC paid affiliates for every sponsored show they carried and charged them for every sustaining show they ran. It was onerous for small and medium stations, and resulted in both unhappy affiliates and limited carriage of sustaining programs. Paley had a different idea, designed to get CBS programs emanating from as many radio sets as possible: he would give the sustaining programs away for free, provided the station would run every sponsored show, and accept CBS's check for doing so. CBS soon had more affiliates than either NBC Red or NBC Blue.
Paley was a man who valued style and taste, and in 1929, once he had his affiliates happy and his company's creditworthiness on the mend, he relocated his concern to sleek, new 485 Madison Avenue, the "heart of the advertising community, right where Paley wanted his company to be" and where it would stay until its move to its own Eero Saarinen-designed headquarters, the CBS Building, in 1965. When his new landlords expressed skepticism about the network and its fly-by-night reputation, Paley overcame their qualms by inking a lease for $1.5 million.
Since NBC was the broadcast arm of radio set manufacturer RCA, its chief David Sarnoff approached his decisions as both a broadcaster and as a hardware executive; NBC's affiliates had the latest RCA equipment, and were often the best-established stations, or were on "clear channel" frequencies. Yet Sarnoff's affiliates were mistrustful of him. Paley had no such split loyalties: his – and his affiliates' – success rose and fell with the quality of CBS programming.
Paley had an innate, pitch-perfect, sense of entertainment, "a gift of the gods, an ear totally pure", wrote David Halberstam. "[He] knew what was good and would sell, what was bad and would sell, and what was good and would not sell, and he never confused one with another." As the 1930s loomed, Paley set about building the CBS talent stable. The network became the home of many popular musical and comedy stars, among them Jack Benny, ("Your Canada Dry Humorist"), Al Jolson, George Burns & Gracie Allen, and Kate Smith, whom Paley personally selected for his family's La Palina Hour because she was not the type of woman to provoke jealousy in American wives. When, on a mid-ocean voyage, Paley heard a phonograph record of a young unknown crooner, he rushed to the ship's radio room and "cabled" New York to sign Bing Crosby immediately to a contract for a daily radio show.
While the CBS prime-time lineup featured music, comedy and variety shows, the daytime schedule was a direct conduit into American homes – and into the hearts and minds of American women; for many, it was the bulk of their adult human contact during the course of the day. CBS time salesmen recognized early on that this intimate connection could be a bonanza for advertisers of female-interest products. Starting in 1930, astrologer Evangeline Adams would consult the heavens on behalf of listeners who sent in their birthdays, a description of their problems – and a box-top from sponsor Forhan's toothpaste. The low-key murmuring of smooth-voiced Tony Wons, backed by a tender violin, "made him a soul mate to millions of women" on behalf of the R. J. Reynolds tobacco company, whose cellophane-wrapped Camel cigarettes were "as fresh as the dew that dawn spills on a field of clover". The most popular radio-friend of all was M. Sayle Taylor, The Voice Of Experience, though his name was never uttered on air. Women mailed descriptions of the most intimate of relationship problems to The Voice in the tens of thousands per week; sponsors Musterole ointment and Haley's M–O laxative enjoyed sales increases of several hundred percent in just the first month of The Voice Of Experience's run.
As the decade progressed, a new genre joined the daytime lineup: serial dramas – soap operas, so named for the products that sponsored them, by way of the ad agencies that actually produced them. Although the form, usually in quarter-hour episodes, proliferated widely in the mid- and late 1930s, they all had the same basic premise: that characters "fell into two categories: 1) those in trouble and 2) those who helped people in trouble. The helping-hand figures were usually older." At CBS, Just Plain Bill brought human insight and Anacin pain reliever into households; Your Family and Mine came courtesy of Sealtest Dairy products; Bachelor's Children first hawked Old Dutch Cleanser, then Wonder Bread; Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories was sponsored by Spry Vegetable Shortening. Our Gal Sunday (Anacin again), The Romance of Helen Trent (Angélus cosmetics), Big Sister (Rinso laundry soap) and many others filled the daytime ether.
Thanks to its daytime and primetime schedules, CBS prospered in the 1930s. In 1935, gross sales were $19.3 million, yielding a profit of $2.27 million. By 1937, the network took in $28.7 million and had 114 affiliates, almost all of which cleared 100% of network-fed programming, thus keeping ratings, and revenue, high. In 1938, CBS even acquired the American Record Corporation, parent of its one-time investor Columbia Records.
In 1938, NBC and CBS each opened studios in Hollywood to attract the entertainment industry's top talent to their networks – NBC at Radio City on Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, CBS two blocks away at Columbia Square.
The extraordinary potential of radio news showed itself in 1930, when CBS suddenly found itself with a live telephone connection to a prisoner called "The Deacon" who described, from the inside and in real time, a riot and conflagration at the Ohio Penitentiary; for CBS, it was "a shocking journalistic coup". Yet as late as 1934, there was still no regularly scheduled newscast on network radio: "Most sponsors did not want network news programming; those that did were inclined to expect veto rights over it." There had been a longstanding wariness between radio and the newspapers as well; the papers had rightly concluded that the upstart radio business would compete with them on two counts – advertising dollars and news coverage. By 1933, they fought back, many no longer publishing radio schedules for readers' convenience, or allowing "their" news to be read on the air for radio's profit. Radio, in turn, pushed back when urban department stores, newspapers' largest advertisers and themselves owners of many radio stations, threatened to withhold their ads from print. A short-lived attempted truce in 1933 even saw the papers proposing that radio be forbidden from running news before 9:30 a.m., and then only after 9:00 p.m. – and that no news story could air until it was 12 hours old.
It was in this climate that Paley set out to "enhance the prestige of CBS, to make it seem in the public mind the more advanced, dignified and socially aware network". He did it through sustaining programming like the New York Philharmonic, the thoughtful drama of Norman Corwin – and an in-house news division to gather and present news, free of fickle suppliers like newspapers and wire services. In the fall of 1934, CBS launched an independent news division, shaped in its first years by Paley's vice-president, former New York Times columnist Ed Klauber, and news director Paul White. Since there was no blueprint or precedent for real-time news coverage, early efforts of the new division used the shortwave link-up CBS had been using for five years to bring live feeds of European events to its American air.
A key early hire was Edward R. Murrow in 1935; his first corporate title was Director of Talks. He was mentored in microphone technique by Robert Trout, the lone full-time member of the News Division, and quickly found himself in a growing rivalry with boss White. Murrow was glad to "leave the hothouse atmosphere of the New York office behind" when he was dispatched to London as CBS's European Director in 1937, a time when the growing Hitler menace underscored the need for a robust European Bureau. Halberstam described Murrow in London as "the right man in the right place in the right era". Murrow began assembling the staff of broadcast journalists – including William L. Shirer, Charles Collingwood, Bill Downs, and Eric Sevareid – who would become known as the "Murrow Boys". They were "in [Murrow's] own image, sartorially impeccable, literate, often liberal, and prima donnas all". They covered history in the making, and sometimes made it themselves: on March 12, 1938, Hitler boldly annexed nearby Austria and Murrow and Boys quickly assembled coverage with Shirer in London, Edgar Ansel Mowrer in Paris, Pierre Huss in Berlin, Frank Gervasi in Rome and Trout in New York. This bore the News Round-Up format, which is still ubiquitous today in broadcast news.
Murrow's nightly reports from the rooftops during the dark days of the London Blitz galvanized American listeners: even before Pearl Harbor, the conflict became "the story of the survival of Western civilization, the most heroic of all possible wars and stories. He was indeed reporting on the survival of the English-speaking peoples." With his "manly, tormented voice", Murrow contained and mastered the panic and danger he felt, thereby communicating it all the more effectively to his audience. Using his trademark self-reference "This reporter", he did not so much report news as interpret it, combining simplicity of expression with subtlety of nuance. Murrow himself said he tried "to describe things in terms that make sense to the truck driver without insulting the intelligence of the professor". When he returned home for a visit late in 1941, Paley threw an "extraordinarily elaborate reception" for Murrow at the Waldorf-Astoria. Of course, its goal was more than just honoring CBS's latest "star" – it was an announcement to the world that Mr. Paley's network was finally more than just a pipeline carrying other people's programming: it had now become a cultural force in its own right.
Once the war was over and Murrow returned for good, it was as "a superstar with prestige and freedom and respect within his profession and within his company". He possessed enormous capital within that company, and as the unknown form of television news loomed large, he would spend it freely, first in radio news, then in television, taking on Senator Joseph McCarthy first, then eventually William S. Paley himself, and with a foe that formidable, even the vast Murrow account would soon run dry.
On October 30, 1938, CBS gained a taste of infamy when The Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles. Its unique format, a contemporary version of the story in the form of faux news broadcasts, had panicked many listeners into believing invaders from Mars were actually invading and devastating Grover's Mill, New Jersey, despite three disclaimers during the broadcast that it was a work of fiction. The flood of publicity after the broadcast had two effects: an FCC ban on faux news bulletins within dramatic programming, and sponsorship for The Mercury Theatre on the Air – the former sustaining program became The Campbell Playhouse to sell soup. Welles, for his part, summarized the episode as "the Mercury Theater's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying 'Boo!'"
Before the United States joined World War II, in 1940, CBS recruited Edmund A. Chester from his position as Bureau Chief for Latin America at the Associated Press to serve as Director of Latin American Relations and Director of Short Wave Broadcasts for the CBS radio network. In this capacity, Chester coordinated the development of the Network of the Americas (La Cadena de las Americas) with the Department of State, the Office for Inter-American Affairs (as chaired by Nelson Rockefeller) and Voice of America. This network provided vital news and cultural programming throughout South America and Central America during the crucial World War II era and fostered diplomatic relations between the United States and the less developed nations of the continent. It featured such popular radio broadcasts as Viva América which showcased leading musical talent from both North and South America including John Serry Sr., as accompanied by the CBS Pan American Orchestra under the musical direction of Alfredo Antonini. The post-war era also marked the beginning of CBS's dominance in the field of radio as well.
As 1939 wound down, Bill Paley announced that 1940 would "be the greatest year in the history of radio in the United States." He turned out to be right by more than anyone could imagine: the decade of the 1940s would indeed be the apogee of network radio by every gauge. Nearly 100% of the advertisers who made sponsorship deals in 1939 renewed their contracts for 1940; manufacturers of farm tractors made radios standard equipment on their machines. Wartime rationing of paper limited the size of newspapers – and effectively advertisements – and when papers turned them away, they migrated to radio sponsorship. A 1942 act by Congress made advertising expenses a tax benefit and that sent even automobile and tire manufacturers – who had no products to sell since they had been converted to war production – scurrying to sponsor symphony orchestras and serious drama on radio. In 1940, only one-third of radio programs were sponsored, while two-thirds were sustaining; by the middle of the decade, the statistics had swapped – two out of three shows now had cash-paying sponsors and only one-third were sustaining.
The CBS of the 1940s was vastly different from that of the early days; many of the old guard veterans had died, retired or simply left the network. No change was greater than that in Paley himself: he had become difficult to work for, and had "gradually shifted from leader to despot". He spent much of his time seeking social connections and in cultural pursuits; his "hope was that CBS could somehow learn to run itself". His brief to an interior designer remodeling his townhouse included a requirement for closets that would accommodate 300 suits, 100 shirts and had special racks for a hundred neckties.
As Paley grew more remote, he installed a series of buffer executives who sequentially assumed more and more power at CBS: first Ed Klauber, then Paul Kesten, and finally Frank Stanton. Second only to Paley as the author of CBS's style and ambitions in its first half-century, Stanton was "a magnificent mandarin who functioned as company superintendent, spokesman, and image-maker". He had come to the network in 1933 after sending copies of his Ph.D. thesis "A Critique Of Present Methods and a New Plan for Studying Radio Listening Behavior" to CBS top brass and they responded with a job offer. He scored an early hit with his study "Memory for Advertising Copy Presented Visually vs. Orally," which CBS salesmen used to great effect bringing in new sponsors. In 1946, Paley appointed Stanton as President of CBS and promoted himself to Chairman. Stanton's colorful, but impeccable, wardrobe – slate-blue pinstripe suit, ecru shirt, robin's egg blue necktie with splashes of saffron – made him, in the mind of one sardonic CBS vice-president, "the greatest argument we have for color television".
Despite the influx of advertisers and their cash, or perhaps because of them, the 1940s were not without bumps for the radio networks. The biggest challenge came in the form of the FCC's chain broadcasting investigation – the "monopoly probe", as it was often called. Though it started in 1938, the investigation only gathered steam in 1940 under new-broom chairman James L. Fly. By the time the smoke had cleared in 1943, NBC had already spun off its Blue Network, which became the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). CBS was also hit, though not as severely: Paley's brilliant 1928 affiliate contract which had given CBS first claim on local stations' air during sponsored time – the network option – came under attack as being restrictive to local programming. The final compromise permitted the network option for three out of four hours during certain dayparts, but the new regulations had virtually no practical effect, since most all stations accepted the network feed, especially the sponsored hours that earned them money. Fly's panel also forbade networks from owning artists' representation bureaus, so CBS sold its bureau to Music Corporation of America and it became Management Corporation of America.
On the air, the war affected almost every show. Variety shows wove patriotism through their comedy and music segments; dramas and soaps had characters join the service and go off to fight. Even before hostilities commenced in Europe, one of the most played songs on radio was Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", popularized by CBS personality Kate Smith. Although an Office of Censorship sprang up within days of Pearl Harbor, censorship would be totally voluntary. A few shows submitted scripts for review; most did not. The guidelines that the Office did issue banned weather reports (including announcement of sports rainouts), news about troop, ship or plane movements, war production and live man-on-the-street interviews. The ban on ad-libbing caused quizzes, game shows and amateur hours to wither for the duration.
Surprising was "the granite permanence" of the shows at the top of the ratings. The vaudevillians and musicians who were hugely popular after the war were the same stars who had been huge in the 1930s: Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Burns and Allen, and Edgar Bergen all had been on the radio almost as long as there had been network radio. A notable exception to this was relative newcomer Arthur Godfrey who, as late as 1942, was still doing a local morning show in Washington, D.C. Godfrey, who had been a cemetery-lot salesman and a cab driver, pioneered the style of talking directly to the listener as an individual, with a singular "you" rather than phrases like "Now, folks..." or "Yes, friends...". His combined shows contributed as much as 12% of all CBS revenues; by 1948, he was pulling down $500,000 a year.
In 1947, Paley, still the undisputed "head talent scout" of CBS, led a much-publicized "talent raid" on NBC. One day, while Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were hard at work at NBC writing their venerable Amos and Andy show, a knock came on the door; it was Paley himself, with an astonishing offer: "Whatever you are getting now I will give you twice as much." Capturing NBC's cornerstone show was enough of a coup, but Paley repeated in 1948 with longtime NBC stars Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and Red Skelton, as well as former CBS defectors Jack Benny, radio's top-rated comedian, and Burns and Allen. Paley achieved this rout with a legal agreement reminiscent of his 1928 contract that caused some NBC radio affiliates to jump ship and join CBS. CBS would buy the stars' names as a property, in exchange for a large lump sum and a salary. The plan relied on the vastly different tax rates between income and capital gains, so not only would the stars enjoy more than twice their income after taxes, but CBS would preclude any NBC counterattack because CBS owned the performers' names.
As a result of this, Paley got in 1949 something he had sought for 20 years: CBS finally beat NBC in the ratings. But it was not just to one-up rival Sarnoff that Paley led his talent raid; he, and all of radio, had their eye on the coming force that threw a shadow over radio throughout the 1940s – television.
In the spring of 1940, CBS staff engineer Peter Goldmark devised a system for color television that CBS management hoped would leapfrog the network over NBC and its existing black-and-white RCA system. The CBS system "gave brilliant and stable colors", while NBC's was "crude and unstable but 'compatible'". Ultimately, the FCC rejected the CBS system because it was incompatible with RCA's; that, and the fact that CBS had moved to secure many UHF, not VHF, television licenses, left CBS flatfooted in the early television age. In 1946, only 6,000 television sets were in operation, most in greater New York City where there were already three stations; by 1949, the number had increased to 3 million sets, and by 1951, had risen to 12 million. 64 American cities had television stations, though most of them only had one.
Radio continued to be the backbone of the company, at least in the early 1950s, but it was "a strange, twilight period" where some cities had often multiple television stations which siphoned the audience from radio, while other cities (such as Denver and Portland, Oregon) had no television stations at all. In those areas, as well as rural areas and some entire states, network radio remained the sole, nationally broadcast service. NBC's venerable Fred Allen saw his ratings plummet when he was pitted against upstart ABC's game show Stop The Music!; within weeks, he was dropped by longtime sponsor Ford Motor Company and was shortly gone from the scene. Radio powerhouse Bob Hope's ratings plunged from a 23.8 share in 1949 to 5.4 in 1953. By 1952, "death seemed imminent for network radio" in its familiar form; most telling of all, the big sponsors were eager for the switch.
Gradually, as the television network took shape, radio stars began to migrate to the new medium. Many programs ran on both media while making the transition. The radio soap opera The Guiding Light moved to television in 1952 and would run for another 57 years; Burns & Allen, back "home" from NBC, made the move in 1950; Lucille Ball a year later; Our Miss Brooks in 1952 (though it continued simultaneously on radio for its full television life). The high-rated Jack Benny Program ended its radio run in 1955, and Edgar Bergen's Sunday night show went off the air in 1957. When CBS announced in 1956 that its radio operations had lost money, while the television network had made money, it was clear where the future lay. When the soap opera Ma Perkins went off the air on November 25, 1960, only eight, relatively minor series remained. Prime time radio ended on September 30, 1962, when Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense aired for the final time.
The retirement of Arthur Godfrey in April 1972 marked the end of long-form programming on CBS radio; programming thereafter consisted of hourly news summaries and news features, known in the 1970s as Dimension, and commentaries, including the Spectrum series that evolved into the "Point/Counterpoint" feature on the television network's 60 Minutes and First Line Report, a news and analysis feature delivered by CBS correspondents. The network also continued to offer traditional radio programming through its weeknightly CBS Radio Mystery Theater, the lone sustained holdout of dramatic programming, from 1974 to 1982, though shorter runs were given to the General Mills Radio Adventure Theater and the Sears Radio Theater in the 1970s; otherwise, most new dramatic radio was carried on public and to some extent religious stations. The CBS Radio Network continues to this day, offering hourly newscasts, including its centerpiece CBS World News Roundup in the morning and evening, weekend sister program CBS News Weekend Roundup, the news-related feature segment The Osgood File, What's In the News, a one-minute summary of one story, and various other segments such as commentary from Seattle radio personality Dave Ross, tip segments from various other sources, and technology coverage from CBS Interactive property CNET.
On November 17, 2017 CBS Radio was sold to Entercom becoming the last of the original Big Four radio network to be owned by its founding company. Although the CBS parent itself ceased to exist when it was acquired by Westinghouse Electric in 1995, CBS Radio continued to be operated by CBS until its acquisition. Prior to its acquisition, ABC Radio was sold to Citadel Broadcasting in 2007 (and is now a part of Cumulus Media) while Mutual (now defunct) and NBC Radio were acquired by Westwood One in the 1980s (Westwood One and CBS were under common ownership from 1993 to 2007; the former would be acquired outright by Dial Global in October 2011).
CBS's involvement in television dates back to the opening of experimental station W2XAB in New York City on July 21, 1931, using the mechanical television system that had been more-or-less perfected in the late 1920s. Its initial broadcast featured New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, Kate Smith, and George Gershwin. The station boasted the first regular seven-day broadcasting schedule in American television, broadcasting 28 hours a week.
Announcer-director Bill Schudt was the station's only paid employee; all other talent was volunteer. W2XAB pioneered program development including small-scale dramatic acts, monologues, pantomime, and the use of projection slides to simulate sets. Engineer Bill Lodge devised the first synchronized sound wave for a television station in 1932, enabling W2XAB to broadcast picture and sound on a single shortwave channel instead of the two previously needed. On November 8, 1932, W2XAB broadcast the first television coverage of presidential election returns. The station suspended operations on February 20, 1933, as monochrome television transmission standards were in flux, and in the process of changing from a mechanical to an all-electronic system. W2XAB returned to the air with an all-electronic system in 1939 from a new studio complex in Grand Central Station and a transmitter atop the Chrysler Building, broadcasting on channel 2. W2XAB transmitted the first color broadcast in the United States on August 28, 1940.
On June 24, 1941, W2XAB received a commercial construction permit and program authorization as WCBW. The station went on the air at 2:30 p.m. on July 1, one hour after rival WNBT (channel 1, formerly W2XBS and now WNBC), making it the second authorized fully commercial television station in the United States. The FCC issued permits to CBS and NBC at the same time, and intended WNBT and WCBW to sign on simultaneously on July 1, so no one station could claim to be the "first".
During the World War II years, commercial television broadcasting was reduced dramatically. Toward the end of the war, commercial television began to ramp up again, with an increased level of programming evident from 1944 to 1947 on the three New York television stations which operated in those years (the local stations of NBC, CBS and DuMont). But as RCA and DuMont raced to establish networks and offer upgraded programming, CBS lagged, advocating an industry-wide shift and restart to UHF for their incompatible (with black and white) color system; the FCC putting an indefinite "freeze" on television licenses that lasted until 1952 also did not help matters. Only in 1950, when NBC was dominant in television and black and white transmission was widespread, did CBS begin to buy or build their own stations (outside of New York City) in Los Angeles, Chicago and other major cities. Up to that point, CBS programming was seen on such stations as KTTV in Los Angeles, which CBS – as a bit of insurance and to guarantee program clearance in that market – quickly purchased a 50% interest in that station, partnering with the Los Angeles Times newspaper. CBS then sold its interest in KTTV (now the West Coast flagship of the Fox network) and purchased outright Los Angeles pioneer station KTSL in 1950, renaming it KNXT (after CBS's existing Los Angeles radio property, KNX), later to become KCBS-TV. In 1953, CBS bought pioneer television station WBKB in Chicago, which had been signed on by former investor Paramount Pictures (and would become a sister company to CBS again decades later) as a commercial station in 1946, and changed that station's call sign to WBBM-TV, moving the CBS affiliation away from WGN-TV.
WCBS-TV would ultimately be the only station (as of 2013) built and signed on by CBS. The rest of the stations would be acquired by CBS, either in an ownership stake or outright purchase. In television's early years, the network bought Washington, D.C. affiliate WOIC (now WUSA) in a joint venture with The Washington Post in 1950, only to sell its stake to the Post in 1954 due to then-tighter FCC ownership regulations. CBS would also temporarily return to relying on its own UHF technology by owning WXIX in Milwaukee (now CW affiliate WVTV) and WHCT in Hartford, Connecticut (now Univision affiliate WUVN), but as UHF was not viable for broadcasting at the time (due to the fact that most television sets of the time were not equipped with UHF tuners), CBS decided to sell those stations off and affiliate with VHF stations WITI and WTIC-TV (now WFSB), respectively (CBS was later forced back onto UHF in Milwaukee due to the affiliation agreement with New World Communications that resulted in WITI disaffiliating from the network in 1994 to join Fox; it is now affiliated with WDJT-TV in that market). More long-term, CBS bought stations in Philadelphia (WCAU, now owned by NBC) and St. Louis (KMOX-TV, now KMOV), but CBS would eventually sell these stations off as well; before buying KMOX-TV, CBS had attempted to purchase and sign on the channel 11 license in St. Louis, now KPLR-TV.
CBS did attempt to sign on a station in Pittsburgh after the "freeze" was lifted, as that city was then the sixth-largest market but only had one commercial VHF station in DuMont-owned WDTV, while the rest were either on UHF (the modern-day WPGH-TV and WINP-TV) or public television (WQED). Although the FCC turned down CBS's request to buy the channel 9 license in nearby Steubenville, Ohio and move it to Pittsburgh (that station, initially CBS affiliate WSTV-TV, is now NBC affiliate WTOV-TV), CBS did score a major coup when Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric (a co-founder of NBC with RCA) bought WDTV from struggling DuMont and opted to affiliate the now-recalled KDKA-TV with CBS instead of NBC (like KDKA radio) due to NBC extorting and coercing Westinghouse to trade KYW radio and WPTZ (now KYW-TV) for Cleveland stations WTAM, WTAM-FM (now WMJI), and WNBK (now WKYC); the trade ended up being reversed in 1965 by order of the FCC and the United States Department of Justice after an eight-year investigation. Had CBS not been able to affiliate with KDKA-TV, it would have affiliated with eventual NBC affiliate WIIC-TV (now WPXI) once it signed on in 1957 instead. This coup would eventually lead to a much stronger relationship between Westinghouse and CBS decades later.
The "talent raid" on NBC of the mid-1940s had brought over established radio stars, who became stars of CBS television programs as well. One reluctant CBS star refused to bring her radio show, My Favorite Husband, to television unless the network would recast the show with her real-life husband in the lead.
I Love Lucy debuted in October 1951, and was an immediate sensation, with 11 million out of a population of 15 million Television sets watching (73% share). Paley and network president Frank Stanton had so little faith in the future of Lucille Ball's series, that they granted her wish and allowed her husband, Desi Arnaz, to take financial control of the comedy's production. This was the making of the Ball-Arnaz Desilu empire, and became the template for series production to this day; it also served as the template for some television conventions that continue to exist including the use of a multiple cameras to film scenes, the use of a studio audience and the airing of past episodes for syndication to other television outlets. The phenomenal success of a prime-time, big-money quiz show, The $64,000 Question, propelled its creator, Louis G. Cowan, first to an executive position as CBS's vice-president of creative services, then to the presidency of the CBS TV network itself. When the quiz show scandals involving "rigged" questions surfaced in 1959, Cowan was fired by CBS.
As television came to the forefront of American entertainment and information, CBS dominated television as it once had radio. In 1953, the CBS television network would make its first profit, and would maintain dominance on television between 1955 and 1976 as well. By the late 1950s, the network often controlled seven or eight of the slots on the "top ten" ratings list with well-respected shows like Route 66.
During the Presidency of James T. Aubrey (1958–1965), CBS was able to balance prestigious television projects (befitting the Tiffany Network image), with more low culture, broad appeal programs. So the network had challenging fare like The Twilight Zone, The Defenders, and East Side/West Side, as well as The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and Gilligan's Island.
This success would continue for many years, with CBS being bumped from first place only due to the rise of ABC in the mid-1970s. Perhaps because of its status as the top-rated network, during the late 1960s and early 1970s CBS felt freer to gamble with controversial properties like the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and All in the Family (and its many spinoffs) during this period.
By the end of the 1960s, CBS was very successful in television ratings, but many of its shows (including The Beverly Hillbillies, Gunsmoke, Mayberry R.F.D., Petticoat Junction, Hee Haw and Green Acres) were appealing more to older and more rural audiences and less to the young, urban and more affluent audiences that advertisers sought to target. Fred Silverman (who would later head ABC, and then later NBC) made the decision to cancel most of those otherwise hit shows by mid-1971 in what became colloquially referred to as the "Rural Purge", with Green Acres cast member Pat Buttram remarking that the network cancelled "anything with a tree in it".
While the "rural" shows got the axe, new hits, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Kojak and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour took their place on the network's schedule and kept CBS at the top of the ratings through the early 1970s. The majority of these hits were overseen by then East Coast vice president Alan Wagner. 60 Minutes also moved to the 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time slot on Sundays in 1975 and became the first ever prime time television news program to enter the Nielsen Top 10 in 1978.
One of CBS's most popular shows during the period was M*A*S*H, a dramedy that ran for 11 seasons from 1972 to 1983 and was based on the hit Robert Altman film; as with the film, the series was set during the Korean War in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. The 2½-hour series finale, in its initial airing on February 28, 1983, had peak viewership of up to 125 million Americans (77% of all television viewership in the U.S. that night), which established it as the all-time most watched single U.S. television episode; it also held the ubiquitous distinction of having the largest single-night primetime viewership of any television program in U.S. history until it was surpassed by the Super Bowl, which have taken the record consistently since 2010 (through the annual championship game's alternating telecasts by CBS and rival networks Fox and NBC).
Silverman also first developed his strategy of spinning new shows off from established hit series while at CBS, with Rhoda and Phyllis spun from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude and The Jeffersons spun from All in the Family and Good Times from Maude. After Silverman's departure, CBS dropped behind ABC for second place in the 1976–77 season, but still rated strongly, based on its earlier hits and some new ones: One Day at a Time, Alice, Lou Grant, WKRP in Cincinnati, The Dukes of Hazzard (a suspiciously "rural" series) and, the biggest hit of the early 1980s, Dallas, the latter of which holds the record for the all-time most watched non-series finale single U.S. television episode – the November 21, 1980, primetime telecast of the resolution episode of the internationally prominent "Who Shot J.R.?" cliffhanger.
By 1982, ABC had run out of steam, NBC was in dire straits with many failed programming efforts greenlighted by Silverman during his tenure as network president (a four-year run which began in 1978), and CBS once more nosed ahead, courtesy of the major success of Dallas (and its spin-off Knots Landing), as well as hits in Falcon Crest, Magnum, P.I., Simon & Simon and 60 Minutes. CBS also acquired the broadcast rights to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in 1982 (taking over for NBC), which the network has broadcast every March since. CBS bought Emmy-winning documentary producer Dennis B. Kane's production company and formed a new company CBS/Kane Productions International (CKPI). The network managed to pull out a few new hits over the next couple of years – namely Kate & Allie, Newhart, Cagney & Lacey, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and Murder, She Wrote – however, this resurgence would be short-lived. CBS had become mired in debt as a result of a failed takeover effort by Ted Turner, which CBS chairman Thomas Wyman successfully helped to fend off. The network sold its St. Louis owned-and-operated station KMOX-TV, and allowed the purchase of a large portion of its shares (under 25 percent) by Loew's Inc. chairman Laurence Tisch. Consequently, collaboration between Paley and Tisch led to the slow dismissal of Wyman, with Tisch taking over as chief operating officer, and Paley returning as chairman.
By the end of the 1987–88 season, CBS had fallen to third place behind both ABC and NBC for the first time, and had some major rebuilding to do.
In 1984, The Cosby Show and Miami Vice debuted on NBC and immediately garnered high ratings, helping to bring that network back to first place by the 1985–86 season with a slate that included several other hits (such as Amen, Family Ties, Cheers, The Golden Girls, The Facts Of Life, L.A. Law and 227). ABC had in turn also rebounded with hits such as Dynasty, Who's the Boss?, Hotel, Growing Pains, The Wonder Years, and Roseanne.
Some of the groundwork had been laid as CBS fell in the ratings, with hits Simon & Simon, Falcon Crest, Murder, She Wrote, Kate & Allie and Newhart still on the schedule from the most recent resurgence, and future hits Designing Women, Murphy Brown, Jake and the Fatman and newsmagazine 48 Hours having debuted during the late 1980s. The network was also still getting decent ratings for 60 Minutes, Dallas and Knots Landing; however, the ratings for Dallas were a far cry from what they were in the early 1980s. During the early 1990s, the network would bolster its sports lineup by obtaining the broadcast television rights to Major League Baseball from ABC and NBC and the Winter Olympics from ABC despite losing the National Basketball Association to NBC after the 1989–90 NBA season.
Under network president Jeff Sagansky, the network was able to earn strong ratings from new shows Diagnosis: Murder; Touched by an Angel; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; Walker, Texas Ranger, Picket Fences and a resurgent Jake and the Fatman during this period, and CBS was able to reclaim the first place crown briefly, in the 1992–93 season; however, a drawback for the network during this time-frame was that its programming slate skewed towards an older demographic than ABC, NBC or even Fox, with its relatively limited presence at that time; a joke even floated around that CBS was "the network for the living dead" during this period. In 1993, the network made a breakthrough in establishing a successful late-night talk show franchise to compete with NBC's The Tonight Show when it signed David Letterman away from NBC after the Late Night host was passed over as Johnny Carson's successor on Tonight in favor of Jay Leno.
Despite having success with Late Show with David Letterman, 1993 saw the network suffer to a time where television changed forever. The network lost the rights to two major sports leagues: the network terminated its contract with Major League Baseball (after losing approximately US$500 million over a four-year span), with the league reaching a new contract with NBC and ABC. Then on December 17 of that year, in a move that surprised many media analysts and television viewers, Fox – then a fledgling network that in its then-seven years on the air had begun to accrue several popular programs in the Nielsen Top 20 alongside its established counterparts – outbid CBS for the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference, stripping the elder network of National Football League game telecasts for the first time since CBS began broadcasting games from the pre-merger NFL in 1955; Fox bid $1.58 billion for the NFC television rights, significantly higher than CBS's reported offer of $290 million to retain the contract.
The acquisition of the NFC rights, which took effect with the 1994 NFL season, and which led to CBS being nicknamed "Can't Broadcast Sports", resulted in Fox striking a series of affiliation deals with longtime affiliates of each of the Big Three networks; CBS bore the brunt of the switches, with many of its existing affiliates being lured away by Fox (especially those owned by New World Communications, which Fox struck its largest affiliation deal with while most of the stations that CBS ended up affiliating with to replace the previous affiliates it lost to Fox were former Fox affiliates and independent stations, most of which had limited to no local news presence prior to joining CBS. The network attempted to fill the loss of NFL by going after the rights to the National Hockey League; however, when CBS countered with a bid, Fox also outbid the network for the NHL rights.
The loss of the NFL, along with an ill-fated effort to court younger viewers, led to a drop in CBS's ratings. One of the shows that was affected was the Late Show with David Letterman, which saw its viewership decline in large part due to the affiliation switches, at times even landing in third place in its timeslot behind ABC's Nightline; as a result, NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which the Late Show often dominated over during the first two years of that show's run, became the top-rated late-night talk show. Still, CBS was able to produce some hits during the mid-1990s, such as The Nanny, JAG (which moved to the network from NBC), Chicago Hope, Cosby, Cybill, Touched by an Angel and Everybody Loves Raymond.
CBS attempted to court families on Fridays with the launch of a family-oriented comedy block, the "CBS Block Party", in the 1997–98 season (consisting of Family Matters, Step by Step, Meego and The Gregory Hines Show, all but the latter coming from Miller-Boyett Productions, which had maintained a relationship with ABC during the late 1980s and 1990s). The lineup failed to compete against ABC's "TGIF" lineup (which saw its own viewership erode that season): Meego and Hines were cancelled by November, while Family Matters and Step by Step were put on hiatus and ended their runs in the summer of 1998. That winter, CBS aired its last Olympic Games to date with its telecast of the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano; NBC, which had already held the rights to the Summer Olympics since 1988, took over coverage of the Winter Olympics beginning with the 2002 Games.
The building blocks for the network's return to the top of the ratings were put in place in 1997, when CBS regained the NFL through its acquisition of the broadcast television rights to the American Football Conference (stripping that package from NBC after 32 years), effective with the 1998 season. The contract was struck shortly before the AFC's emergence as the dominant NFL conference over the NFC, spurred in part by the turnaround of the New England Patriots in the 2000s. With the help of the AFC package, CBS surpassed NBC for first place in the 1999–2000 season; however, it was beaten by ABC the following year. The network gained additional hits in the late 1990s and early 2000s with series such as The King of Queens, Nash Bridges, Judging Amy, Becker and Yes, Dear.
Another turning point for CBS came in the summer of 2000 when it debuted the summer reality shows Survivor and Big Brother, which became surprise summer hits for the network. In January 2001, CBS debuted the second season of Survivor after its broadcast of Super Bowl XXXV and scheduled it on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time; it also moved the investigative crime drama CSI (which had debuted that fall in the Friday 9:00 p.m. time slot) to follow Survivor at 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The pairing of the two shows was both able to chip away at and eventually beat NBC's Thursday night lineup, and attract younger viewers to the network.
During the 2000s, CBS found additional successes with a slew of police procedurals (several of which were produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) including Cold Case, Without a Trace, Criminal Minds, NCIS and The Mentalist, along with CSI spinoffs CSI: Miami and CSI: NY as well as sitcoms Still Standing, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Rules of Engagement and The Big Bang Theory. The network's programming slate, buoyed largely by the success of CSI, briefly led the network to retake first place in the ratings from NBC in the 2002–03 season. The decade also saw CBS finally make ratings headway on Friday nights, a perennial weak spot for the network, with a focus toward drama series such as Ghost Whisperer and the relatively short-lived but critically acclaimed Joan of Arcadia.
CBS became the most watched American broadcast television network once again in the 2005–06 season, an achievement that the network proclaimed in on-air promotions as being "America's Most Watched Network" (a term it would use again in the 2011–12 season). This lasted until the 2007–08 season, when Fox overtook CBS for first, becoming the first non-Big Three network to earn the title as the most watched network overall in the United States; despite CBS's continued strong lineup, Fox's first-place finish that season was primarily due to its reliance on American Idol (the longest reigning #1 prime time U.S. television program from 2004 to 2011). CBS retook its place as the top-rated network in the 2008–09 season, where it has remained every season since. Fox and CBS, both having ranked as the highest rated of the major broadcast networks during the 2000s, tend to nearly equal one another in the 18–34, 18–49 and 25–54 demographics, with either network alternating in placing first in either of these groups by very close margins. NCIS, which has been the flagship of CBS's Tuesday lineup for much of its run, became the network's highest-rated drama by the 2007–08 season.
The 2010s saw additional hits for the network including drama series The Good Wife; police procedurals Person of Interest, Blue Bloods, Elementary, Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles; reality series Undercover Boss; and sitcoms 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly. The Big Bang Theory, one of several sitcoms from veteran writer/producer Chuck Lorre, started off with modest ratings but saw its viewership skyrocket (earning per episode ratings of up to 17 million viewers) to become the top-rated network sitcom in the U.S. by the 2010–11 season, as well as the second most watched U.S. television program starting from the 2013–14 season, when the series became the anchor of the network's Thursday lineup. Meanwhile, the Lorre-produced series it overtook for the position, Two and a Half Men, saw its ratings decline to respectable levels for its final four seasons following the 2011 firing of original star Charlie Sheen (due to a dispute with Lorre) and the addition of Ashton Kutcher as its primary lead.
Until 2012, CBS ranked in second place among adults 18-49, but after the ratings declines Fox experienced during the 2012–13 fall season, the network was able to take the top spot in the demographic as well as in total viewership (for the fifth year in a row) by the start of 2013. At the end of the 2012–13 season, the tenth season of NCIS took the top spot among the season's most watched network programs, which gave CBS its top-rated show after American Idol ended its eight-year nationwide primetime lead (with NBC Sunday Night Football taking over the top spot from Idol the year before and from NCIS the year after), for the first time since the 2002–03 season (when CSI: Crime Scene Investigation led Nielsen's seasonal prime time network ratings).
The strength of its 2013–14 slate led to a surplus of series on CBS's 2014–15 schedule, with 21 series held over from the previous season, along with eight new series including moderate hits in Madam Secretary, NCIS: New Orleans and Scorpion. Also, midseason hits The Odd Couple reboot and CSI spinoff CSI: Cyber. The network also expanded its NFL coverage through a partnership with NFL Network to carry Thursday Night Football games during the first eight weeks of the NFL season.
On September 29, 2016, National Amusements, the owner of both CBS' parent company, CBS Corporation, and its sister company Viacom (owner of Paramount Pictures), sent a letter to both companies, encouraging them to merge back into one company. On December 12, the deal was called off. However, on January 12, 2018, CNBC reported that both CBS and Viacom have since re-entered talks to merge.
The two companies have also been reported as in talks to acquire Lionsgate, along with Amazon, Verizon, and Comcast (owner of both NBC and CNBC via its NBCUniversal division) in order to bulk up after the proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox and its assets from Rupert Murdoch by The Walt Disney Company. This was reported at the same time as the CBS and Viacom re-merger talks. Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns has stated in an interview with CNBC that Lionsgate is mostly interested in merging with CBS and Viacom.
Upon becoming commercial station WCBW in 1941, the pioneer CBS television station in New York City broadcast two daily news programs, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. weekdays, anchored by Richard Hubbell. Most of the newscasts featured Hubbell reading a script with only occasional cutaways to a map or still photograph. When Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, WCBW (which was usually off-the-air on Sundays to give the engineers a day off), took to the air at 8:45 p.m. that evening with an extensive special report. The national emergency even broke down the unspoken wall between CBS radio and television. WCBW executives convinced radio announcers and experts such as George Fielding Elliot and Linton Wells to come down to the station's Grand Central Station studios during the evening, and give information and commentary on the attack. Although WCBW's special report that night lasted less than 90 minutes, that special broadcast pushed the limits of live television in 1941 and opened up new possibilities for future broadcasts. As CBS wrote in a special report to the FCC, the unscheduled live news broadcast on December 7 "was unquestionably the most stimulating challenge and marked the greatest advance of any single problem faced up to that time". Additional newscasts were scheduled in the early days of the war.
In May 1942, WCBW (like almost all television stations) sharply cut back its live program schedule and cancelled its newscasts, as the station temporarily suspended studio operations, resorting exclusively to the occasional broadcast of films. This was primarily due to the fact that much of the staff had either joined the service or were redeployed to war-related technical research, and to prolong the life of the early, unstable cameras which were now impossible to repair due to the lack of parts available during wartime. In May 1944, as the war began to turn in favor of the Allies, WCBW reopened its studios and resumed production of its newscasts, which were briefly anchored by Ned Calmer, and then by Everett Holles. After the war, WCBW (which changed its call letters to WCBS-TV in 1946) introduced expanded news programs on its schedule – first anchored by Milo Boulton, and later by Douglas Edwards. On May 3, 1948, Edwards began anchoring CBS Television News, a regular 15-minute nightly newscast on the rudimentary CBS television network, including WCBS-TV. Airing every weeknight at 7:30 p.m., it was the first regularly scheduled, network television news program featuring an anchor (the nightly Lowell Thomas NBC radio network newscast was simulcast on television locally on NBC's WNBT (now WNBC) for a time in the early 1940s and Hubbell, Calmer, Holles and Boulton on WCBW in the early and mid-1940s, but these were local television broadcasts seen only in the New York City market).
The NBC television network's offering at the time NBC Television Newsreel (premiering in February 1948) was simply film footage with voice narration to provide illustration of the stories.
In 1949, CBS offered the first live television coverage of the proceedings of the United Nations General Assembly. This journalistic tour-de-force was under the direction of Edmund A. Chester, who was appointed to the post of Director for News, Special Events and Sports at CBS Television in 1948.
In 1950, the nightly newscast was retitled Douglas Edwards with the News, and the following year, it became the first news program to be broadcast on both coasts, thanks to a new coaxial cable connection, prompting Edwards to use the greeting, "Good evening everyone, coast to coast" to begin each edition. The broadcast was renamed the CBS Evening News when Walter Cronkite replaced Edwards in 1962. Edwards remained with CBS News as anchor/reporter for various daytime television and radio news broadcasts until his retirement on April 1, 1988.
Although CBS Television was the first with a working color television system, the network lost out to RCA in 1953, due in part because the CBS color system was incompatible with existing black-and-white sets. Although RCA – then-parent company of NBC – made its color system available to CBS, the network was not interested in boosting RCA's profits and televised only a few specials in color for the rest of the decade.
The specials included the Ford Star Jubilee programs (which included the first telecast ever of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)'s 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz) as well as the 1957 telecast of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella; Cole Porter's musical version of Aladdin; and Playhouse 90's only color broadcast, the 1958 production of The Nutcracker, featuring choreography by George Balanchine. The Nutcracker telecast was based on the famous production staged annually since 1954 in New York, and performed by the New York City Ballet. CBS would later show two other versions of the ballet, a semi-forgotten one-hour German-American version hosted by Eddie Albert, shown annually for three years beginning in 1965, and the well-loved Mikhail Baryshnikov production from 1977 to 1981 (this production later moved to PBS).
Beginning in 1959, The Wizard of Oz, now telecast by CBS as a family special in its own right (after the cancellation of Ford Star Jubilee), became an annual tradition on color television. However, it was the success of NBC's 1955 telecast of the musical Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin, the most watched television special of its time, that inspired CBS to telecast The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella and Aladdin.
From 1960 to 1965, the CBS television network limited its color broadcasts to only a few special presentations such as The Wizard of Oz, and only then if the sponsor would pay for it. Red Skelton was the first CBS host to telecast his weekly programs in color, using a converted movie studio, in the early 1960s; he tried unsuccessfully to persuade the network to use his facility for other programs, and was then forced to sell it. Color was being pushed hard by rival NBC; even ABC had several color programs, beginning in the fall of 1962; however, those were limited because of financial and technical issues that the network was going through at the time. One particularly notable television special aired by CBS during this era was the Charles Collingwood-hosted tour of the White House with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, which was broadcast in black-and-white.
Beginning in 1963, at least one CBS show, The Lucy Show, began filming in color at the insistence of its star and producer Lucille Ball; she realized that color episodes would command more money when they were eventually sold into syndication, but even it was broadcast in black and white through the end of the 1964–65 season. This would all change by the mid-1960s, when market pressure forced CBS Television to begin adding color programs to its regular schedule for the 1965–66 season and complete the transition to the format during the 1966–67 season. By the fall of 1967, nearly all of CBS's television programs were in color, as was the case with those aired by NBC and ABC. A notable exception was The Twentieth Century, which consisted mostly of newsreel archival footage, though even this program used at least some color footage by the late 1960s. CBS acquired the new color broadcasting equipment from Philips which bore the Norelco brand name at that time.
In 1965, CBS telecast a new color version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. This version, starring Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon in the roles formerly played by Julie Andrews and Jon Cypher, was shot on videotape rather than being telecast live, and would become an annual tradition on the network for the next nine years.
In 1967, NBC outbid CBS for the rights to the annual telecast of The Wizard of Oz, with the film moving to NBC beginning the following year. However, the network quickly realized their mistake in allowing what was then one of its prime ratings winners to be acquired by another network, and by 1976, CBS reacquired the television rights to the film, with the network continuing to broadcast it through the end of 1997. CBS aired The Wizard of Oz twice in 1991, in March and again the night before Thanksgiving. Thereafter, it was broadcast on the night before Thanksgiving.
By the end of the 1960s, CBS was broadcasting virtually its entire programming lineup in color.
Prior to the 1960s, CBS's acquisitions had been related mainly to its broadcasting business; these had included the purchases of American Record Corporation and Hytron. During the 1950s and early 1960s, CBS operated a CBS-Columbia division, manufacturing phonographs, radios and television sets; however, the company had problems with product quality, which partly hindered any possibility of success in that field. In 1955, CBS purchased animation studio Terrytoons Inc. from its founder Paul Terry, not only acquiring Terry's 25-year backlog of cartoons for the network but continuing the studio's ongoing contract to provide theatrical cartoons for 20th Century Fox well into the 1960s.
During the 1960s, CBS began an effort to diversify its portfolio, and looked for suitable investments. In 1965, it acquired electric guitar maker Fender from Leo Fender, who agreed to sell his company due to health problems. The purchase also included that of Rhodes electric pianos, which had already been acquired by Fender. This and other acquisitions led to a restructuring of the corporation into various operating groups and divisions; the quality of the products manufactured by these acquired companies fell dramatically, resulting in the terms "pre-CBS" to refer to products of higher, sought after quality and "CBS" for products of mass-produced lower quality.
In other diversification attempts, CBS would buy (and later sell) a varied number of other properties including sports teams (especially the New York Yankees baseball club), book and magazine publishers (Fawcett Publications including Woman's Day, and Holt, Rinehart and Winston), map-makers and toy manufacturers (Gabriel Toys, Child Guidance, Wonder Products, Gym Dandy and Ideal), and X-Acto knives., and distributors of educational films and film strips, Bailey Films Inc. and Film Associates of California, which it merged into one company, BFA Educational Media. CBS also developed an early home video system called EVR (Electronic Video Recording), but was never able to launch it successfully.
As William Paley aged, he tried to find the one person who could follow in his footsteps. However, numerous successors-in-waiting came and went. By the mid-1980s, investor Laurence Tisch had begun to acquire substantial holdings in CBS. Eventually he gained Paley's confidence, and with his support, took control of CBS in 1986. Tisch's primary interest was turning profits. When CBS faltered, underperforming units were given the axe. Among the first properties to be jettisoned was the Columbia Records group, which had been part of the company since 1938. In 1986, Tisch also shut down the CBS Technology Center in Stamford, Connecticut, which had started in New York City in the 1930s as CBS Laboratories and evolved to be the company's technology research and development unit.
Columbia Records was acquired by CBS in 1938. In 1962, CBS launched CBS Records International to market Columbia recordings outside of North America, where the Columbia name was controlled by other entities. In 1966, CBS Records was made a separate subsidiary of Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. CBS sold the CBS Records Group to Sony on November 17, 1987, initiating the Japanese buying spree of U.S. companies (such as MCA, Pebble Beach Co., Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building) that continued into the 1990s. The record label company was rechristened Sony Music Entertainment in 1991, as Sony had a short term license on the CBS name.
Sony purchased from EMI its rights to the Columbia Records name outside the U.S., Canada, Spain and Japan. Sony now uses Columbia Records as a label name in all countries except Japan, where Sony Records remains their flagship label. Sony acquired the Spanish rights when Sony Music merged with Bertelsmann subsidiary BMG in 2004 as Sony BMG, co-owned by Sony and Bertelsmann; Sony bought out BMG's share in 2008. CBS Corporation formed a new record label named CBS Records in 2006.
CBS entered the publishing business in 1967 by acquiring Holt, Rinehart & Winston, a publisher of trade books and textbooks as well as the magazine Field & Stream. The following year, CBS acquired the medical publishing company Saunders and merged it into Holt, Rinehart & Winston. In 1971, CBS acquired Bond/Parkhurst, the publisher of Road & Track and Cycle World. CBS greatly expanded its magazine business by purchasing Fawcett Publications in 1974, bringing in such magazines as Woman's Day. In 1984, it acquired the majority of the publications owned by Ziff Davis.
CBS sold its book publishing businesses in 1985. The educational publishing division, which retained the Holt, Rinehart & Winston name, was sold to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; the trade book division, renamed Henry Holt and Company, was sold to the West German publisher Holtzbrinck. CBS exited the magazine business through the sale of the unit to its executive Peter Diamandis, who later sold the magazines to Hachette Filipacchi Médias in 1988, forming Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.
Forming the CBS Musical Instruments division, the company also acquired Fender (1965–1983), Electro-Music Inc. (Leslie speakers) (1965–1980), Rogers Drums (1966–1983), Steinway pianos (1972–1985), Gemeinhardt flutes, Lyon & Healy harps (in the late 1970s), Rodgers (institutional) organs, and Gulbransen home organs. The company's last musical instrument manufacturer purchase was its 1981 acquisition of the assets of then-bankrupt ARP Instruments, a developer of electronic synthesizers.
It is widely held that, between 1965 and 1985, the quality of Fender guitars and amplifiers declined significantly. Encouraged by outraged Fender fans, CBS Musical Instruments division executives executed a leveraged buyout in 1985 and created Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. At the same time, CBS divested itself of Rodgers, along with Steinway and Gemeinhardt, all of which were purchased by holding company Steinway Musical Properties. The other musical instrument manufacturing properties were also liquidated.
CBS made a brief, unsuccessful move into film production in the late 1960s, through the creation of Cinema Center Films. This profit-free unit was shut down in 1972; the distribution rights to the Cinema Center library today rest with Paramount Pictures for home video (via CBS Home Entertainment) and theatrical release, and with CBS Television Distribution for television syndication (most other ancillary rights remain with CBS). The studio released such films as the 1969 Steve McQueen drama The Reivers and the 1970 Albert Finney musical Scrooge.
Ten years after Cinema Center ceased operations, in 1982, CBS made another attempt at a venture in the film industry, in a joint venture with Columbia Pictures and HBO called TriStar Pictures. Despite releasing such box office successes as The Natural, Places in the Heart and Rambo: First Blood Part II, CBS felt the studio was not making a profit and in 1985, sold its stake in TriStar to Columbia Pictures' then-corporate parent The Coca-Cola Company.
In 2007, CBS Corporation announced its intent to get back into the feature film business, slowly launching CBS Films and hiring key executives in the spring of 2008 to start up the new venture. The CBS Films name was actually used previously in 1953, when it was briefly used for CBS's distributor of off-network and first-run syndicated programming to local television stations in the United States and internationally.
CBS entered into the home video market, when it partnered with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to form MGM/CBS Home Video in 1978; the joint venture was dissolved by 1982, after MGM purchased United Artists. CBS later partnered with another studio, 20th Century Fox, to form CBS/Fox Video. CBS's duty was to release some of the film titles released by TriStar Pictures under the CBS/Fox Video label.
CBS entered the video game market briefly, through its acquisition of Gabriel Toys (renamed CBS Toys), publishing several arcade adaptations and original titles under the name "CBS Electronics", for the Atari 2600, and other consoles and computers; it also produced one of the first karaoke recording/players. CBS Electronics also distributed all Coleco-related video game products in Canada, including the ColecoVision. CBS later sold Gabriel Toys to View-Master, which eventually ended up as part of Mattel.
By the early 1990s, profits had fallen as a result of competition from cable television and video rentals, and in consequence of the high cost of programming. About 20 former CBS affiliates switched to the rapidly rising Fox network in the mid-1990s, while many television markets across the United States (KDFX in Palm Springs, California, and KECY in Yuma, Arizona, were reportedly the first to switch in August 1994) lost their CBS affiliate for a while. The network's ratings were acceptable, but it struggled with an image of stodginess. Laurence Tisch lost interest and sought a new buyer.
In the mid-1990s, CBS formed an affiliate relationship with Westinghouse Electric Corporation as a partial result of losing many longtime affiliates owned by New World Communications through an affiliation agreement with Fox that New World signed in May 1994. The New World deal resulted in CBS affiliating with UHF stations in Detroit and Cleveland – former Fox affiliate WOIO and low-rated ethnic independent WGPR-TV (now WWJ-TV), the latter of which was purchased by the network – after a failed attempt to woo the respective longtime ABC affiliates in those markets, WXYZ-TV and WEWS-TV (the latter of which had previously been a CBS affiliate from 1947 to 1955) to respectively replace departing affiliates WJBK and WJW-TV, a situation that the E. W. Scripps Company actually used as leverage to sign a group-wide affiliation deal with ABC that kept the network on WXYZ and WEWS.
Included in the Scripps deal was Baltimore NBC affiliate WMAR-TV (which had been affiliated with CBS from 1948 to 1981), displacing longtime ABC affiliate WJZ-TV, despite the fact that Westinghouse-owned WJZ-TV had long been the Baltimore market's dominant station while WMAR-TV had long been in a distant third and even nearly lost its license in 1991. This did not sit well with Westinghouse, who even before the New World deal was already seeking a group-wide affiliation deal of its own, but accelerated the process after the Scripps-ABC agreement.
In 1994, Westinghouse signed a long-term deal to affiliate all five of its television stations with CBS. Of the other four stations, two of the stations (KPIX in San Francisco and KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh) were already longtime affiliates of the network, while two others (KYW-TV in Philadelphia and WBZ-TV in Boston) were longtime affiliates of NBC. The network decided to sell off existing O&O in Philadelphia, WCAU, which would eventually be purchased by NBC, despite at the time being much higher rated locally than KYW-TV. While WJZ-TV and WBZ-TV switched to CBS in January 1995, the swap was delayed in Philadelphia when CBS discovered that an outright sale of channel 10 would have forced it to pay massive taxes on the proceeds from the deal. To solve this problem, CBS, NBC and Group W entered into a complex ownership/affiliation deal in the summer of 1995. NBC traded KCNC-TV in Denver and KUTV in Salt Lake City to CBS in return for WCAU, which for legal reasons would be an even trade. CBS then traded controlling interest in KCNC and KUTV to Group W in return for a minority stake in KYW-TV. As compensation for the loss of stations, NBC and CBS traded transmitter facilities in Miami, with NBC-owned WTVJ moving to channel 6 and CBS-owned WCIX moving to channel 4 as WFOR-TV.
On August 1, 1995, Westinghouse Electric Company acquired CBS outright for $5.4 billion. As one of the major broadcasting group owners of commercial radio and television stations (as Group W) since 1920, Westinghouse sought to transition from a station operator into a major media company with its purchase of CBS. Except for KUTV (which CBS sold to Four Points Media Group in 2007, and is now owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group), all of the stations involved in the initial Westinghouse deal as well as WWJ-TV remain owned-and-operated stations of the network to this day.
Westinghouse's acquisition of CBS had the effect of suddenly turning the combined company's all-news radio stations in New York City (WCBS and WINS) and Los Angeles (KNX and KFWB) from bitter rivals to sister stations. While KFWB switched from all-news to news/talk in 2009, WINS and WCBS remain all-news stations, with WINS (which pioneered the all-news format in 1965) concentrating its news coverage on the five core New York City boroughs and WCBS, with its much more powerful signal, covering the surrounding tri-state metropolitan area. In Chicago, the situation started out with Westinghouse's WMAQ beginning to feature long-form stories and discussions about the news, along with a business news focus to differentiate from WBBM until 2000, when an FCC ownership situation had CBS Radio deciding to move its all sports WSCR to WMAQ's signal to sell off the former WSCR facility.
In 1997, Westinghouse acquired the Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, owner of more than 150 radio stations, for $4.9 billion. Also that year, Westinghouse created CBS Cable, a division formed through the acquisition of two existing cable channels from the Gaylord Entertainment Company (The Nashville Network (now Spike) and Country Music Television) and starting a new one (CBS Eye on People, which was later sold to Discovery Communications). CBS also owned the Spanish-language news network CBS Telenoticias.
Following the Infinity purchase, operation and sales responsibilities for the CBS Radio Network was handed to Infinity, which turned management over to Westwood One, a major radio program syndicator that Infinity managed which had previously purchased the Mutual Broadcasting System, NBC's radio networks and the rights to use the "NBC Radio Networks" name. For a time, CBS Radio, NBC Radio Networks and CNN's radio news services were all under the Westwood One umbrella. As of 2008, Westwood One continues to distribute CBS radio programming, but as a self-managed company that put itself up for sale and found a buyer for a significant amount of its stock.
Also in 1997, Westinghouse changed its name to CBS Corporation, and corporate headquarters were moved from Pittsburgh to New York City. To underline the change in emphasis, all non-entertainment assets were put up for sale. Another 90 radio stations were added to Infinity's portfolio in 1998 with the acquisition of American Radio Systems Corporation for $2.6 billion.
In 1999, CBS paid $2.5 billion to acquire King World Productions, a television syndication company whose programs included The Oprah Winfrey Show, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. By the end of 1999, all pre-CBS elements of Westinghouse's industrial past (beyond retaining rights to the name for brand licensing purposes) were gone.
By the 1990s, CBS had become a broadcasting giant; however, in 1999, entertainment conglomerate Viacom – a company that was created by CBS in 1952 as CBS Films, Inc. to syndicate old CBS series and was spun off under the Viacom name in 1971 – announced it was taking over its former parent in a deal valued at $37 billion. Following completion of this effort in 2000, Viacom became the second-largest entertainment company in the world. Coincidentally, Viacom had purchased Paramount Pictures, which had once invested in CBS, in 1994.
Having assembled all the elements of a communications empire, Viacom found that the promised synergy was not there; in 2005, Viacom announced that it would split the company into two separately operated but commonly controlled entities. CBS became the center of a new company, CBS Corporation. The legal successor to the old Viacom, the company's properties included the broadcasting entities (CBS and UPN, the latter of which later merged with Time Warner-owned the WB to form the CW; the Viacom Television Stations Group, which became CBS Television Stations; and CBS Radio); Paramount Television's production operations (now known as CBS Television Studios); Viacom Outdoor advertising (renamed CBS Outdoor); Showtime Networks; Simon & Schuster; and Paramount Parks, which the company sold in May 2006. The other company, which retained the Viacom name, kept Paramount Pictures, assorted MTV Networks, BET Networks, and Famous Music (the latter of which was sold to Sony/ATV Music Publishing in May 2007).
As a result of the Viacom/CBS corporate split, as well as other acquisitions over recent years, CBS (under the moniker CBS Studios) owns a massive film and television library spanning nine decades; these include acquired material from Viacom and CBS in-house productions and network programs, as well as programs (many originally produced by Paramount and others) originally aired on competing networks (such as ABC and NBC). Shows and other material in this library include among others, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O (both the original and current remake), Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, The Love Boat, Little House on the Prairie (U.S. television rights only), Cheers, Becker, Family Ties, Happy Days and its spin-offs, The Brady Bunch, Star Trek, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (distribution rights on behalf of copyright holder Lucasfilm), Evening Shade, Duckman, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs, the CBS theatrical library (including My Fair Lady and Scrooge), and the entire Terrytoons library from 1930 forward.
Both CBS Corporation and the new Viacom are owned by National Amusements, the Sumner Redstone-owned company that controlled the original Viacom prior to the split. As such, Paramount Home Media Distribution (formerly Paramount Home Entertainment) continues to handle DVD and Blu-ray distribution for the CBS library.
As of 2013, CBS provides 87½ hours of regularly scheduled network programming each week. The network provides 22 hours of prime time programming to affiliated stations Monday through Saturdays from 8:00–11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific (7:00–10:00 p.m. in all other time zones) and Sundays from 7:00–11:00 p.m. (6:00–10:00 p.m. elsewhere).
Daytime programming is also provided from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. weekdays (with a half-hour break at 12:00 p.m. Eastern/Pacific for CBS stations to air local newscasts or syndicated programs; usage of the 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. hours for network programming vary depending on the affiliate and on time zone) featuring the game shows The Price Is Right and Let's Make a Deal, soap operas The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, and talk show The Talk. CBS News programming includes CBS This Morning from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays; nightly editions of CBS Evening News (whose weekend editions are occasionally subject to abbreviation or preemption due to sports telecasts overrunning into the program's timeslot), the Sunday political talk show Face the Nation, early morning news programs CBS Overnight News (a program made up of re-purposed Evening News and CBSN content) and CBS Morning News and the newsmagazines 60 Minutes, CBS News Sunday Morning and 48 Hours. Late nights feature the weeknight talk shows The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden. The previous late late show was called The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, which aired from 2005 until December, 2014. The show received a Peabody Award.
CBS Sports programming is also provided weekend afternoons at any time between 12:00 and 7:00 p.m. (9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Pacific Time). Due to the unpredictable length of sporting events, CBS will occasionally delay scheduled primetime programs to allow the programs to air in their entirety (this is particularly prevalent on Sunday evenings during the NFL season, on weeks when CBS is scheduled to broadcast a late afternoon game). In addition to rights to sports events from the NFL, PGA and NCAA among other major sports organizations, CBS broadcasts the CBS Sports Spectacular, a sports anthology series which fills certain weekend afternoon time slots prior to – or in some cases, in lieu of – a major sporting event.
CBS's daytime schedule (the longest among the major networks, in terms of total time, at 4½ hours) is the home of the long-running game show The Price Is Right, which began production in 1972 and is the longest continuously running daytime game show on network television. After being hosted by Bob Barker for 35 years, the show has been hosted since 2007 by actor/comedian Drew Carey. The network is also home to the current incarnation of Let's Make a Deal, hosted by singer/comedian Wayne Brady, which originated in 1964 on NBC and was revived by CBS in 2009 (after a 19-year absence as a regular series). As of 2015, CBS is the only commercial broadcast network that continues to broadcast daytime game shows. Notable game shows that once aired as part of the network's daytime lineup include Match Game, Tattletales, The $10/25,000 Pyramid, Press Your Luck, Card Sharks, Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune. Past game shows that have had both daytime and prime time runs on the network include Beat the Clock, To Tell the Truth and Password. Two long-running prime time-only games were the panel shows What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret.
The network is also home to The Talk, a panel talk show similar in format to ABC's The View, which debuted in October 2010 (as of 2012, the program is hosted by moderator Julie Chen, series creator/executive producer Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler and Sheryl Underwood).
As of September 2013, CBS Daytime airs two daytime soap operas each weekday: the hour-long series The Young and the Restless and half-hour series The Bold and the Beautiful. CBS has aired the most soap operas out of the Big Three networks, carrying 3½ hours of soaps on its daytime lineup from 1982 to 2009. After Guiding Light ended in September 2009, ABC overtook CBS as the network with the most daily hours dedicated to soap operas; however, CBS reclaimed this distinction in January 2012, following the conclusion of two of ABC's three remaining soap operas, All My Children and One Life to Live, which were cancelled the year before. Other than Guiding Light, notable daytime soap operas that once aired on CBS include As the World Turns, Love of Life, Search for Tomorrow, The Secret Storm, The Edge of Night and Capitol.
CBS broadcast the live-action series Captain Kangaroo on weekday mornings from 1955 to 1982, and on Saturdays through 1984. From 1971 to 1986, CBS News produced a series of one-minute segments titled In the News, which aired between other Saturday morning programs. Otherwise, in regards to children's programming, CBS has aired mostly animated series for children, such as reruns of Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry cartoons, as well as the original version of Scooby-Doo, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, Garfield and Friends, and the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 1997, CBS premiered Wheel 2000 (a children's version of the syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune), which aired simultaneously on the Game Show Network.
In September 1998, CBS began contracting the time period out to other companies to provide programming and material for its Saturday morning schedule. The first of these outsourced blocks was the CBS Kidshow, which ran until 2000 and featured programming from Canadian studio Nelvana (such as Anatole, Mythic Warriors, Rescue Heroes and Flying Rhino Junior High).
After its agreement with Nelvana ended, the network then entered into a deal with Nickelodeon (which by the time of the deal was a corporate sister to CBS, through the latter's then parent company Viacom, as a result of its 2000 merger with CBS Corporation) to air programming from its Nick Jr. block beginning in September 2000 under the banner Nick Jr. on CBS. From 2002 to 2005, live-action and animated Nickelodeon series aimed at older children also aired as part of the block, under the sub-brand Nick on CBS.
Following the Viacom-CBS split that resulted in the network deciding to discontinue the Nickelodeon content deal, in March 2006, CBS entered into a three-year agreement with DIC Entertainment (which was acquired later that year by the Cookie Jar Group, which assumed the rights to the deal) to program the Saturday morning time slot as part of a deal that included distribution of select tape-delayed Formula One auto races. The KOL Secret Slumber Party on CBS replaced Nick Jr. on CBS that September, with the inaugural lineup featuring two new first-run live-action programs, one animated series that originally aired in syndication in 2005 and three shows produced prior to 2006. In mid-2007, KOL (the children's service of AOL) withdrew sponsorship from CBS's Saturday morning block, which was subsequently renamed KEWLopolis. Complimenting CBS's 2007 lineup was Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and Sushi Pack. On February 24, 2009, it was announced that CBS renewed its contract with Cookie Jar for another three seasons, running through 2012. On September 19, 2009, KEWLopolis was renamed Cookie Jar TV.
On July 24, 2013, CBS entered into an agreement with Litton Entertainment (which already programmed a syndicated Saturday morning block exclusive to ABC stations and would later produce a block for CBS sister network The CW that debuted the following year) to launch a new Saturday morning block featuring live-action reality-based lifestyle, wildlife and sports series. The Litton-produced "CBS Dream Team" block, which is aimed at teenagers 13 to 16 years old, debuted on September 28, 2013, replacing Cookie Jar TV.
CBS was the original broadcast network home of the animated primetime holiday specials based on the Peanuts comic strip, beginning with A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965. Over 30 holiday Peanuts specials (each for a specific holiday such as Halloween) were broadcast on CBS from that time until 2000, when the broadcast rights were acquired by ABC. CBS also aired several primetime animated specials based on the works of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), beginning with How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1966, as well as several specials based on the Garfield comic strip during the 1980s (which led to Garfield getting his own Saturday morning cartoon on the network, Garfield and Friends, which ran from 1988 to 1995). Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, produced in stop motion by the Rankin/Bass studio, has been another annual holiday staple of CBS since 1972; however, that special originated on NBC in 1964. As of 2011, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman are the only two pre-1990 animated specials remaining on CBS; the broadcast rights to the Charlie Brown specials and The Grinch are now held by ABC, while that network's cable sister ABC Family owns the rights to the Garfield specials.
All of these animated specials, from 1973 to 1990, began with a fondly remembered seven-second animated opening sequence, in which the words "A CBS Special Presentation" were displayed in colorful lettering (the ITC Avant Garde typeface, widely used in the 1970s, was used for the title logo). The word "SPECIAL", in all caps and repeated multiple times in multiple colors, slowly zoomed out from the frame in a spinning counterclockwise motion against a black background, and rapidly zoomed back into frame as a single word, in white, at the end; the sequence was accompanied by a jazzy though majestic up-tempo fanfare with dramatic horns and percussion (which was edited incidental music from the CBS crime drama Hawaii Five-O, titled "Call to Danger" on the Capitol Records soundtrack LP). This opening sequence appeared immediately before all CBS specials of the period (such as the Miss USA pageants and the annual presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors), in addition to animated specials (this opening was presumably designed by, or under the supervision of, longtime CBS creative director Lou Dorfsman, who oversaw print and on-air graphics for CBS for nearly 30 years, replacing William Golden, who died in 1959).
CBS was also responsible for airing the series of Young People's Concerts conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Telecast every few months between 1958 and 1972, first in black-and-white and then broadcast in color beginning in 1966, these programs introduced millions of children to classical music through the eloquent commentaries by Maestro Bernstein. The specials were nominated for several Emmy Awards including two wins in 1961 an later in 1966, and were among the first programs ever broadcast from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Over the years, CBS has broadcast three different productions of Tchaikovsky's famous ballet The Nutcracker – two live telecasts of the George Balanchine New York City Ballet production in 1957 and 1958 respectively, a little-known German-American filmed production in 1965 (which was subsequently repeated three times and starred Edward Villella, Patricia McBride and Melissa Hayden), and beginning in 1977, the Mikhail Baryshnikov staging of the ballet, starring the Russian dancer along with Gelsey Kirkland – a version that would become a television classic, and remains so today (the broadcast of this production later moved to PBS).
In April 1986, CBS presented a slightly abbreviated version of Horowitz in Moscow, a live piano recital by legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz, which marked Horowitz's return to Russia after more than 60 years. The recital was televised as an episode of CBS News Sunday Morning (televised at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time in the U.S., as the recital was performed simultaneously at 4:00 p.m. in Russia). It was so successful that CBS repeated it a mere two months later by popular demand, this time on videotape, rather than live. In later years, the program was shown as a standalone special on PBS; the current DVD of the telecast omits the commentary by Charles Kuralt, but includes additional selections not heard on the CBS telecast.
In 1986, CBS telecast Carnegie Hall: The Grand Reopening in primetime, in what was now a rare move for a commercial broadcast network, since most primetime classical music specials were relegated to PBS and A&E by this time. The program was a concert commemorating the re-opening of Carnegie Hall after its complete renovation. It featured, along with luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein, popular music artists such as Frank Sinatra.
In order to compete with NBC, which produced the now-legendary televised version of the Mary Martin Broadway production of Peter Pan, CBS responded with a musical production of Cinderella, with music composed by Richard Rodgers and a book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Based upon the classic French fairy tale of the same title, it is the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical ever to have been written for television. It was originally broadcast live in color on CBS on March 31, 1957 as a vehicle for Julie Andrews, who played the title role; that broadcast was seen by over 100 million people. It was subsequently remade by CBS in 1965, with Lesley Ann Warren, Stuart Damon, Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon among its stars; the remake also included a new song, "Loneliness of Evening", which was originally composed in 1949 for South Pacific, but was not performed in that musical. This version was rebroadcast several times on CBS into the early 1970s, and is occasionally broadcast on various cable networks to this day; both versions are available on DVD.
CBS was also the original broadcast home for the primetime specials produced by the National Geographic Society. The Geographic series in the U.S. started on CBS in 1964, before moving to ABC in 1973 (the specials subsequently moved to PBS – under the production of Pittsburgh member station WQED – in 1975 and NBC in 1995, before returning to PBS in 2000). The specials have featured stories on many scientific figures such as Louis Leakey, Jacques Cousteau and Jane Goodall, that not only featured their work but helped make them internationally known and accessible to millions. A majority of the specials were narrated by various actors, notably Alexander Scourby during the CBS run. The success of the specials led in part to the creation of the National Geographic Channel, a cable channel launched in January 2001 as a joint venture between the National Geographic Society and Fox Cable Networks. The specials' distinctive theme music, by Elmer Bernstein, was also adopted by the National Geographic Channel.
From 1949 to 2002, the Pillsbury Bake-Off, an annual national cooking contest, was broadcast on CBS as a special. Hosts for the broadcast included Arthur Godfrey, Art Linkletter, Bob Barker, Gary Collins, Willard Scott (although under contract with CBS's rival NBC) and Alex Trebek.
The Miss USA beauty pageant aired on CBS from 1963 to 2002; during a large portion of that period, the telecast was often emceed by the host of one of the network's game shows. John Charles Daly hosted the show from 1963 to 1966, succeeded by Bob Barker from 1967 to 1987 (at which point Barker, an animal rights activist who eventually convinced producers of The Price Is Right to cease offering fur coats as prizes on the program, quit in a dispute over their use), Alan Thicke in 1988, Dick Clark from 1989 to 1993, and Bob Goen from 1994 to 1996. The pageant's highest viewership was recorded in the early 1980s, when it regularly topped the Nielsen ratings on the week of its broadcast. Viewership dropped sharply throughout the 1990s and 2000s, from an estimated viewership of 20 million to an average of 7 million from 2000 to 2001. In 2002, Donald Trump (owner of the Miss USA pageant's governing body, the Miss Universe Organization) brokered a new deal with NBC, giving it half-ownership of the Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pageants and moving them to that network as part of an initial five-year contract, which began in 2003 and ended in 2015 after 12 years amid Trump's controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants during the launch of his 2016 campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.
On June 1, 1977, it was announced that Elvis Presley had signed a deal with CBS to appear in a new television special. Under the agreement, CBS would videotape Presley's concerts during the summer of 1977; the special was filmed during Presley's final tour at stops in Omaha, Nebraska (on June 19) and Rapid City, South Dakota (on June 21 of that year). CBS aired the special, Elvis in Concert, on October 3, 1977, nearly two months after Presley's death in his Graceland mansion on August 16.
As of April 2018, CBS has 16 owned-and-operated stations, and current and pending affiliation agreements with 227 additional television stations encompassing 49 states, the District of Columbia, two U.S. possessions, Bermuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The network has a national reach of 96.52% of all households in the United States (or 301,605,729 Americans with at least one television set). Currently, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Delaware are the only U.S. states where CBS does not have a locally licensed affiliate (New Jersey is served by New York City O&O WCBS-TV and Philadelphia O&O KYW-TV; Delaware is served by KYW and Salisbury, Maryland affiliate WBOC-TV; and New Hampshire is served by Boston O&O WBZ-TV and Burlington, Vermont affiliate WCAX-TV).
CBS maintains affiliations with low-power stations (broadcasting either in analog or digital) in a few markets, such as Harrisonburg, Virginia (WSVF-CD), Palm Springs, California (KPSP-CD) and Parkersburg, West Virginia (WIYE-LD). In some markets, including both of those mentioned, these stations also maintain digital simulcasts on a subchannel of a co-owned/co-managed full-power television station. CBS also maintains a sizeable number of subchannel-only affiliations, the majority of which are with stations in cities located outside of the 50 largest Nielsen-designated markets; the largest CBS subchannel affiliate by market size is KOGG in Wailuku, Hawaii, which serves as a repeater of Honolulu affiliate KGMB (the sister station of KOGG parent KHNL).
Nexstar Media Group is the largest operator of CBS stations by numerical total, owning 44 CBS affiliates (counting satellites); Tegna Media is the largest operator of CBS stations in terms of overall market reach, owning 11 CBS-affiliated stations (including affiliates in the larger markets in Houston, Tampa and Washington, D.C.) that reach 8.9% of the country.
CBS provides video on demand access for delayed viewing of the network's programming through various means, including via its website at CBS.com; the network's apps for iOS, Android and newer version Windows devices; a traditional VOD service called CBS on Demand available on most traditional cable and IPTV providers; and through content deals with Amazon Video (which holds exclusive streaming rights to two CBS drama series, Extant and Under the Dome) and Netflix. Notably, however, CBS is the only major broadcast network that does not provide recent episodes of its programming on Hulu (sister network The CW does offer its programming on the streaming service, albeit on a one-week delay after becoming available on the network's website on Hulu's free service, with users of its subscription service being granted access to newer episodes of CW series eight hours after their initial broadcast), due to concerns over cannibalizing viewership of some of the network's most prominent programs; however, episode back catalogs of certain past and present CBS series are available on the service through an agreement with CBS Television Distribution.
Upon the release of the app in March 2013, CBS restricted streaming of the most recent episode of any of the network's program on its streaming app for Apple iOS devices until eight days after their initial broadcast, in order to encourage live or same-week (via both DVR and cable on demand) viewing; programming selections on the app were limited until the release of its Google Play and Windows 8 apps in October 2013, expanded the selections to include full episodes of all CBS series to which the network does not license the streaming rights to other services.
On October 28, 2014, CBS launched CBS All Access, an over-the-top subscription streaming service – priced at $5.99 per month ($9.99 with the no commercials option) – which allows users to view past and present episodes of CBS shows. Announced on October 16, 2014 (one day after HBO announced the launch of its over-the-top service HBO Now) as the first OTT offering by an USA broadcast television network, the service initially encompassed the network's existing streaming portal at CBS.com and its mobile app for smartphones and tablet computers; CBS All Access became available on Roku on April 7, 2015, and on Chromecast on May 14, 2015. In addition to providing full-length episodes of CBS programs, the service allows live programming streams of local CBS affiliates in 124 markets reaching 75% of the United States.
CBS All Access offers the most recent episodes of the network's shows the day after their original broadcast, as well as complete back catalogs of most of its current series and a wide selection of episodes of classic series from the CBS Television Distribution program library, to subscribers of the service. CBS All Access also carries behind-the-scenes features from CBS programs and special events.
CBS's master feed is transmitted in 1080i high definition, the native resolution format for CBS Corporation's television properties. However, seven of its affiliates transmit the network's programming in 720p HD, while seven others carry the network feed in 480i standard definition either due to technical considerations for affiliates of other major networks that carry CBS programming on a digital subchannel or because a primary feed CBS affiliate has not yet upgraded their transmission equipment to allow content to be presented in HD.
CBS began its conversion to high definition with the launch of its simulcast feed, CBS HD, on September 1998 at the start of the 1998–99 season. That year, the network aired the first NFL game ever broadcast in high-definition, with the telecast of the New York Jets–Buffalo Bills game on November 8. The network gradually converted much of its existing programming from standard-definition to high definition beginning with the 2000–01 season, with select shows among that season's slate of freshmen scripted series being broadcast in HD from their debuts. The Young and the Restless became the first daytime soap opera to broadcast in HD on June 27, 2001.
CBS's 14-year conversion to an entirely high definition schedule ended in 2014, with Big Brother and Let's Make a Deal becoming the final two network series to convert from 4:3 standard definition to HD (in contrast, NBC, Fox and The CW were already airing their entire programming schedules – outside of Saturday mornings – in high definition by the 2010–11 season, while ABC was broadcasting its entire schedule in HD by the 2011–12 midseason). All of the network's programming has been presented in full HD since then (with the exception of certain holiday specials produced prior to 2005 – such as the Rankin-Bass specials – which continue to be presented in 4:3 SD, although some have been remastered for HD broadcast).
As of September 1, 2016 when ABC converted to a 16:9 widescreen presentation, CBS and The CW are currently the only remaining networks which frame their promotions and on-screen graphical elements for a 4:3 presentation, though with CBS Sports's de facto 16:9 conversion with Super Bowl 50 and their new graphical presentation designed for 16:9 framing, in practice most CBS affiliates ask pay-TV providers to pass down a 16:9 widescreen presentation by default over their standard definition channels.
The CBS television network's initial logo, used from the 1940s to 1951, consisted of an oval spotlight which shone on the block letters "C-B-S". The present-day Eye device was conceived by William Golden, based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign as well as a Shaker drawing (while commonly attributed to Golden, there is speculation that at least some design work on the symbol may have been done by another CBS staff designer, Georg Olden, one of the first African-Americans to attract some attention in the postwar graphic design field). The Eye device made its broadcast debut on October 20, 1951. The following season, as Golden prepared a new "ident", CBS President Frank Stanton insisted on keeping the Eye device and using it as much as possible (Golden died unexpectedly in 1959, and was replaced by one of his top assistants, Lou Dorfsman, who would go on to oversee all print and on-air graphics for CBS for the next 30 years).
The CBS eye has since become an American icon. While the symbol's settings have changed, the Eye device itself has not been redesigned in its entire history. As part of a new graphical identity created by Trollbäck + Company that was introduced by the television network in 2006, the eye was placed in a "trademark" position on show titles, days of the week and descriptive words, an approach highly respecting the value of the design. The logo is alternately known as the Eyemark, which was also the name of CBS's domestic and international syndication divisions in the mid-to-late 1990s before the King World acquisition and Viacom merger.
The eye logo has frequently been copied or borrowed by television networks around the world. Notable examples include the Austrian Broadcasting System (ORF), which formerly used a red version of the eye logo; Associated Television (ATV) in the United Kingdom; Frecuencia Latina in Peru; Fuji Television in Japan; Rede Bandeirantes and Rede Globo in Brazil; and Saeta TV Channel 10 in Uruguay.
The network celebrated the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the Eye logo in October 2011, featuring special IDs shown during the network's prime time lineup of logo versions from previous CBS image campaigns.
The standard corporate typeface used by CBS since the 1950s is Didot, a close relative to Bodoni. Several of the typefaces used by CBS over the years were designed by Herb Lubalin of International Typeface Corporation, an associate of CBS art director Lou Dorfsman. These typefaces include Avant Garde, Lubalin Graph, and Serif Gothic.
Through the years, CBS has developed several notable image campaigns, and several of the network's most well-known slogans were introduced in the 1980s. The "Reach for the Stars" campaign used during the 1981–82 season feature a space theme used to capitalize on both CBS's stellar improvement in the ratings and the historic launch of the space shuttle Columbia. 1982's "Great Moments" juxtaposed scenes from classic CBS programs such as I Love Lucy with scenes from the network's then-current classics such as Dallas and M*A*S*H. From 1983 to 1986, CBS (by now firmly atop the ratings) featured a campaign based on the slogan "We've Got the Touch". Vocals for the campaign's jingle were contributed by Richie Havens (1983–84; one occasion in 1984–85) and Kenny Rogers (1985–86).
The 1986–87 season ushered in the "Share the Spirit of CBS" campaign, the network's first to completely use computer graphics and DVE effects. Unlike most network campaign promos, the full-length version of "Share the Spirit" not only showed a brief clip preview of each new fall series, but also utilized CGI effects to map out the entire fall schedule by night. The success of that campaign led to the 1987–88 "CBS Spirit" (or "CBSPIRIT") campaign. Like with its predecessor campaign, most "CBSpirit" promos utilized a procession of clips from the network's programs. However, the new graphic motif was a swirling (or "swishing") blue line, that was used to represent "the spirit." The full length promo, like the previous year, had a special portion that identified new fall shows, but the mapped-out fall schedule shot was abandoned.
For the 1988–89 season, CBS unveiled a new image campaign, officially known as "Television You Can Feel", but more commonly identified as "You Can Feel It On CBS". The goal was to convey a more sensual, new-age image through distinguished, advanced-looking computer graphics and soothing music, backgrounding images and clips of emotionally powerful scenes and characters. However, it was this season in which CBS began its ratings freefall, the deepest in the network's history. CBS ended the decade with "Get Ready for CBS," introduced with the 1989–90 season. The initial version was a very ambitious campaign that attempted to elevate CBS out of last place (among the major networks); the motif centered around network stars interacting with each other in a remote studio set, getting ready for photo and television shoots, as well as for the new season on CBS. The high-energy promo song and the campaign's practices saw many customized variations by all of CBS's owned-and-operated stations and affiliates, which participated in the campaign per a network mandate. In addition, for the first time in history, CBS became the first broadcast network to partner with a national retailer (in this case, Kmart) to encourage viewership, with the "CBS/Kmart Get Ready Giveaway".
For the 1990–91 season, the campaign featured a new jingle performed by The Temptations, which offered an altered version of their hit "Get Ready". The early 1990s featured less-than-memorable campaigns, with simplified taglines such as "This is CBS" (1992) and "You're On CBS" (1995). Eventually, the promotions department gained momentum again late in the decade with "Welcome Home to a CBS Night" (1996–1997), simplified to Welcome Home (1997–1999) and succeeded by the spin-off campaign "The Address is CBS" (1999–2000), whose history can be traced back to a CBS slogan from the radio era of the 1940s, "The Stars' Address is CBS". During the 1992 season for the end-of-show network identification sequence, a three-note sound mark was introduced, which was eventually adapted into the network's IDs and production company vanity cards following the closing credits of most of its programs during the "Welcome Home" era.
Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, CBS's ratings resurgence was backed by the network's "It's All Here" campaign (which introduced updated versions of the 1992 sound mark used during certain promotions and production company vanity cards during the closing credits of programs); in 2005, the network's strategy led to the proclamation that it was "America's Most Watched Network". The network's 2006 campaign introduced the slogan "We Are CBS", with Don LaFontaine providing the voiceover for the IDs (as well as certain network promos) during this period. In 2009, the network introduced a campaign entitled "Only CBS," in which network promotions proclaim several unique qualities it has (the slogan was also used in program promotions following the announcement of the timeslot of a particular program). The "America's Most Watched Network" was re-introduced by CBS in 2011, used alongside the "Only CBS" slogan.
Especially during the 1960s, CBS as well as its two major network competitors, NBC, and ABC, utilized elaborate promos during the summer months to promote their upcoming fall schedules. In 1961, CBS took the unusual step of airing a program titled CBS Fall Preview Special: Seven Wonderful Nights, using stars of several CBS shows – such as Ed Sullivan (The Ed Sullivan Show), Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), and Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale (Perry Mason) – to promote the upcoming fall lineup, instead the network's continuity announcers, showing previews of the entire lineup for one specific day of the week. Fall preview specials hosted by network stars would become commonplace among the broadcast networks in subsequent years.
CBS programs are shown outside the United States, through various branded international networks and content agreements, and in two North American countries, through U.S.-based CBS stations.
In Canada, CBS network programming is carried on cable, satellite and IPTV providers in Canada through affiliates and owned-and-operated stations of the network that are located within proximity to the Canada–United States border (such as KIRO-TV/Seattle, KBJR-DT2/Duluth, Minnesota, WWJ-TV/Detroit and WIVB-TV/Buffalo, New York and WCAX-TV/Burlington, Vermont ), some of which may also be receivable over-the-air in parts of southern Canada depending on the signal coverage of the station. Most programming is generally the same as it airs in the United States; however, some CBS programming on U.S.-based affiliates permitted for carriage by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission by Canadian cable and satellite providers are subject to simultaneous substitutions, a practice in which a pay television provider supplants an American station's signal with a feed from a Canadian station/network airing a particular program in the same time slot to protect domestic advertising revenue.
CBS programming is available in Mexico through affiliates in markets located within proximity to the Mexico–United States border (such as KSWT/Yuma, Arizona; KVTV/Laredo, Texas; KDBC-TV/El Paso, Texas; KGBT-TV/Harlingen, Texas; and KFMB-TV/San Diego), whose signals are readily receivable over-the-air in border areas of northern Mexico.
On September 14, 2009, the international arm of CBS, CBS Studios International, reached a joint venture deal with Chellomedia to launch six CBS-branded channels in the United Kingdom – which would respectively replace Zone Romantica, Zone Thriller, Zone Horror and Zone Reality, as well as timeshift services Zone Horror +1 and Zone Reality +1 – during the fourth quarter of that year. On October 1, 2009, it was announced that the first four channels, CBS Reality, CBS Reality +1, CBS Drama and CBS Action, would launch on November 16 – respectively replacing Zone Reality, Zone Reality +1, Zone Romantica and Zone Thriller. On April 5, 2010, Zone Horror and Zone Horror +1 were rebranded as Horror Channel and Horror Channel +1.
Australian free-to-air broadcaster Network Ten has been owned by CBS Corporation since 2017. Network Ten's three channels, Ten, Eleven and One, all carry CBS programming. Prior to the acquisition, CBS had long been a major supplier of international programs to the network. The cost of maintaining program supply agreements with CBS and 21st Century Fox was a major factor in the network's unprofitability during the mid-2010s. Network Ten entered voluntary administration in June 2017. CBS Corporation was the network's largest creditor. CBS Corporation chose to acquire the network, completing the transaction in November 2017.
In the U.S. territory of Guam, the network is affiliated with low-power station KUAM-LP in Hagåtña. Entertainment and non-breaking news programming is shown day and date on a one-day tape delay, as Guam is located on the west side of the International Date Line (for example, NCIS, which airs on Tuesday nights, is carried Wednesdays on KUAM-LP, and is advertised by the station as airing on the latter night in on-air promotions), with live programming and breaking news coverage airing as scheduled, meaning live sports coverage often airs early in the morning.
In Hong Kong, the CBS Evening News was broadcast live during the early morning hours on ATV; networks in that country maintains agreement to rebroadcast portions of the program 12 hours after the initial broadcast to provide additional content in the event that their affiliates have insufficient news content to fill time during their local news programs.
In the Philippines, the CBS Evening News is broadcast on satellite network Q-TV (a sister channel of GMA Network), while CBS This Morning is shown in that country on the Lifestyle Network. The Late Show with David Letterman is broadcast by Studio 23 and Maxx, which are both owned by ABS-CBN. 60 Minutes is currently broadcast on CNN Philippines (formerly Talktv, Solar News Channel and 9TV ) as a part of their Stories block, which includes documentaries and is broadcast on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. before CNN Philippines Nightly News with replays in a capacity as a stand-alone program on Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. & 5:00 pm and Sundays at 6:00 a.m, all in local time (UTC + 8). And with the merger of RTL it's known as RTL CBS Entertainment.
In India, CBS maintained a brand licensing agreement with Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd. for three CBS-branded channels: Big CBS Prime, Big CBS Spark and Big CBS Love. These channels were shut down in late November 2013.
In Israel, in 2012 the channels Zone Reality and Zone Romanatica have been rebranded as CBS Reality and CBS Drama, respectively. The channels were carried by Israeli television providers yes and HOT, although as of 2018 they both only carry CBS Reality.
In 1995, CBS refused to air a 60 Minutes segment that featured an interview with a former president of research and development for Brown & Williamson, the U.S.'s third largest tobacco company. The controversy raised questions about the legal roles in decision-making and whether journalistic standards should be compromised despite legal pressures and threats. The decision nevertheless sent shockwaves throughout the television industry, the journalism community, and the country. This incident was the basis for the 1999 Michael Mann-directed drama film, The Insider.
In 2004, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a record $550,000 fine, the largest fine ever for a violation of federal decency laws, against CBS for an incident during its broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVIII in which singer Janet Jackson's right breast (which was partially covered by a piece of nipple jewelry) was briefly and accidentally exposed by guest performer Justin Timberlake at the end of a duet performance of Timberlake's 2003 single "Rock Your Body" during the halftime show (produced by then sister cable network MTV). Following the incident, CBS apologized to its viewers and denied foreknowledge of the incident, which was televised live. The incident resulted in a period of increased regulation of broadcast television and radio outlets (including self-imposed content regulation by networks and syndicators), which raised concerns surrounding censorship and freedom of speech, and resulted in the FCC voting to increase its maximum fine for indecency violations from US$27,500 to US$325,000. In 2008, a Philadelphia federal court annulled the fine imposed on CBS, labelling it "arbitrary and capricious".
On September 8, 2004, less than two months before the Presidential election in which he defeated Democratic candidate John Kerry, CBS aired a controversial episode of 60 Minutes Wednesday, which questioned then-President George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard in 1972 and 1973. Following allegations of forgery, CBS News admitted that four of the documents used in the story had not been properly authenticated and admitted that their source, Bill Burkett, had admitted to having "deliberately misled" a CBS News producer who worked on the report, about the documents' origins out of a confidentiality promise to the actual source. The following January, CBS fired four people connected to the preparation of the segment. Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and former corporate parent Viacom in September 2007, contending the story, and his termination (he resigned as CBS News chief anchor in 2005), were mishandled. Parts of the suit were dismissed in 2008; subsequently in 2010, the entire suit was dismissed and Rather's motion to appeal was denied.
In January 2013, CNET named Dish Network's "Hopper with Sling" digital video recorder as a nominee for the CES "Best in Show" award (which is decided by CNET on behalf of its organizers, the Consumer Electronics Association), and named it the winner in a vote by the site's staff. However, CBS division CBS Interactive disqualified the Hopper, and vetoed the results as CBS was in active litigation with Dish Network over its AutoHop technology (which allows users to skip commercial advertisements during recorded programs). CNET announced that it would no longer review any product or service provided by companies that CBS Corporation was in litigation with. The "Best in Show" award was instead given to the Razer Edge tablet. On January 14, 2013, CNET editor-in-chief Lindsey Turrentine said in a statement that its staff was in an "impossible" situation due to the conflict of interest posed by the lawsuit, and promised to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. The conflict also prompted the resignation of CNET senior writer Greg Sandoval. As a result of the controversy, the CEA announced on January 31, 2013 that CNET will no longer decide the CES Best in Show award winner due to the interference of CBS (with the position being offered to other technology publications), and the "Best in Show" award was jointly awarded to both the Hopper with Sling and Razer Edge.
In 2018 an article by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker claimed that thirty "current and former CBS employees described harassment, gender discrimination, or retaliation" at CBS.
|Frank Stanton||1946–1971||Stanton reorganized CBS into various divisions, including separate divisions for television and radio; the following executives served under him, Paley and later chairmen.|
|Louis Cowan||1957–1959||Cowan served as President of CBS Entertainment for two years, until he was forced to resign from CBS in 1959 in the wake of the quiz show scandals.|
|James Thomas Aubrey||1959–1965||James Aubrey replaced Louis Cowan after his dismissal for his role in the quiz show scandals. Aubrey earned the nickname "Smiling Cobra" for his brutal decision-making ways, governing CBS with a firm grip that did not go unnoticed. He had great success selecting network programs in the beginning, but despite his successes in television, Aubrey's abrasive personality and oversized ego – "picture Machiavelli and Karl Rove at a University of Colorado football recruiting party" wrote Variety in 2004 – led to his sudden firing from CBS amid charges of improprieties. In its front-page story on his dismissal, which came on "the sunniest Sunday in February" 1965, The New York Times declared that "the circumstances [behind Aubrey's firing] rivaled the best of CBS adventure or mystery shows". Aubrey offered no explanation following his dismissal, nor did CBS President Frank Stanton or Board Chairman William Paley.|
|Fred Silverman||1970–1975||In 1970, Silverman was promoted from vice-president of program planning and development to Vice President, Programs – heading the network's entire programming department. Silverman was the chief architect of the "rural purge" of 1971, which eventually eliminated many popular country-oriented shows (such as Green Acres, Mayberry R.F.D., Hee Haw and The Beverly Hillbillies) from the CBS schedule. In their place, however, came a new wave of classics aimed at the upscale baby boomer generation (such as All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, The Waltons, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Kojak and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour). Silverman had an uncanny ability to spot burgeoning hit material, especially in the form of spin-offs, new television series developed with characters originating on an existing series. For example, he spun off Maude and The Jeffersons from All in the Family, and Rhoda from Mary Tyler Moore (as well as The Bob Newhart Show from MTM's writers). In early 1974, Silverman ordered a Maude spin-off titled Good Times; that show's success led Silverman to schedule it against ABC's new hit, Happy Days, the following fall. In other dayparts, Silverman also reintroduced game shows to the network's daytime lineup in 1972 after a four-year absence; among the shows Silverman introduced was an updated version of the 1950s game show The Price Is Right, which remains on the air nearly four decades later. After the success of The Price Is Right, Silverman would establish a working relationship with Mark Goodson and Bill Todman in which most of their game shows would air on CBS, including a revival of Match Game. Under Silverman's tenure, CBS also ended the practice of wiping and saved as much of its recorded content as possible, while other networks recycled tapes constantly to save money. On Saturday mornings, Silverman commissioned Hanna-Barbera to produce the animated series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (one of the show's main characters, Fred Jones, is named after Silverman). The success of Scooby-Doo led to several other Hanna-Barbera series airing on CBS in the early 1970s.|
|Arthur R. Taylor||1972–1976|
|John Backe||1976–1980||Backe returned CBS to the Top of the Ratings with shows such as Dallas and Trapper John, M.D. that were geared to more adult type fare.|
|B. Donald Grant||1980–1987||Grant was credited with spearheading some of CBS's best known shows of the 1980s, including Newhart and Murder, She Wrote.|
|Jeff Sagansky||1990–1994||During his tenure as network president , the network was able to earn strong ratings from new shows Diagnosis: Murder; Touched by an Angel; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; Walker, Texas Ranger, Picket Fences and a resurgent Jake and the Fatman during this period, and CBS was able to reclaim the first place crown briefly, in the 1992–93 season; however, a drawback for the network during this time-frame was that its programming slate skewed towards an older demographic than ABC, NBC or even Fox, with its relatively limited presence at that time; a joke even floated around that CBS was "the network for the living dead" during this period. In 1993, the network made a breakthrough in establishing a successful late-night talk show franchise to compete with NBC's The Tonight Show when it signed David Letterman away from NBC after the Late Night host was passed over as Johnny Carson's successor on Tonight in favor of Jay Leno. |
|Leslie Moonves||1995–1998||Moonves joined CBS in July 1995 as president of CBS Entertainment. He was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer at CBS Television in April 1998, a position he held until his promotion to Chairman and CEO of CBS Inc. in 2003. Moonves oversees all operations of CBS Corporation, including the CBS television network, The CW (a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment formed in 2006 through the concurrent shutdowns of The WB and UPN), CBS Television Stations, CBS Television Studios, CBS Television Distribution, Showtime, CBS Radio, CBS Records, CBS Outdoor, Simon & Schuster, CBS Interactive, CBS Consumer Products, CBS Home Entertainment, CBS Outernet and CBS Films. During this time (2003), CBS became America's most watched television network, going from last to first. Among the shows that have given CBS a new lease on life is the CSI franchise and Survivor. CBS had six of the ten most-watched primetime shows in the final quarter of 2005: CSI, Without a Trace, CSI: Miami, Survivor: Guatemala, NCIS and Cold Case.|
|Nancy Tellem||1998–2004||Tellem was named by Leslie Moonves as his successor as president of CBS Television in 1998. During her presidency at CBS Entertainment, she oversaw programming, development, production, business affairs and network operations, and supervised the prime-time, daytime, late-night and Saturday morning lineups for both CBS and The CW. Prior to joining CBS, Tellem helped create the landmark shows Friends and ER during her tenure with NBC. Tellem stepped down as CBS Television president in 2010, to become a senior advisor to Moonves.|
|Nina Tassler||2004–2015||Tassler was named by Les Moonves as the successor to Tellem following her departure in 2004. Close friends with Moonves, Tassler presided over some of CBS's most successful years, and oversaw CBS's transition to the most watched network on TV. By the time she vacated her post, Tassler was CBS Entertainment's longest running president, and green-lit shows including NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans and Elementary. Prior to working at CBS, Tassler was part of the team to develop ER with Moonves and Tellem. She will continue to advise Moonves until 2017, and will oversee Geller's transition to president. She has worked at CBS since 1998.|
|Glenn Geller||2015–present||Geller was promoted at the behest of Tassler, who he had worked beneath since 2002. Moonves states that Geller was "the obvious choice" to take Tassler's position.|
Arthur R. Taylor resigned today as president of CBS and Chairman William S. Paley said he would step aside as chief executive officer in a shakeup at the ...