|Public and private|
|Fate||Reorganization into MetroMedia Technologies |
|Founded||1956 as Metropolitan Broadcasting Corp.|
|Defunct||1997 (as a media company)|
|Headquarters||New York City|
|John W. Kluge, founder/chairman/CEO|
|Products||television, radio, entertainment, advertising|
Metromedia (also often MetroMedia) was a media company that owned radio and television stations in the United States from 1956 to 1986 and controlled Orion Pictures from 1988 to 1997.
- Origins 1.1
- Expansion 1.2
1985-86 divestitures 1.3
- Continued usage of the Metromedia name 1.3.1
- Legal battles 1.4
- Ownership of Orion Pictures 1.5
- Typeface 2
Former Metromedia stations 3
- Television stations 3.1
- Radio stations 3.2
- Television syndication 3.3
- References 4
- External links 5
The company arose from the ashes of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first commercial television network. DuMont had been in economic trouble throughout its existence, and was dealt a fatal blow when ABC accepted a buyout offer from United Paramount Theaters in 1953. The ABC-UPT deal gave ABC the resources to operate a national television service along the lines of CBS and NBC. DuMont officials quickly realized the ABC-UPT deal put their network on life support, and agreed in principle to merge with ABC. However, it was forced to back out of the deal when minority owner Paramount Pictures raised antitrust concerns. UPT had only spun off from Paramount four years earlier, and there were still doubts about whether the two companies were really separate.
By 1955, DuMont realized it could not compete against the other three networks and decided to wind down its operations. Soon after DuMont formally shut down network service in 1956, the parent firm DuMont Laboratories spun off the network's two remaining owned and operated stations, WABD in New York City and WTTG in Washington, D.C., to shareholders as the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation. The company's headquarters were co-located with WABD in the former DuMont Tele-Centre (which was later renamed the Metromedia Telecenter) in New York.
In 1957, DuMont Broadcasting purchased two New York area radio stations, WNEW (now WBBR) and WHFI (later WNEW-FM and WWFS), and later that year changed its name to the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation to distance itself from its former parent company. The following year, Paramount sold its shares in Metropolitan Broadcasting to Washington-based investor John Kluge, enough to give Kluge controlling interest. Kluge installed himself as chairman, and later increased his holdings to 75 percent. WABD's call letters were later changed to WNEW-TV to match its new radio sisters.
Metropolitan's first acquisitions included WHK-AM-FM in Cleveland (in 1958); the Foster & Kleiser outdoor advertising firm (in 1959); and KOVR in Stockton, California, WIP/WIP-FM in Philadelphia, WTVH-TV (now WHOI) in Peoria, Illinois, and WTVP television (now WAND) in Decatur, Illinois (all in 1960). In 1961 Metropolitan purchased KMBC-AM-TV in Kansas City, Missouri. Later that year the company's name was changed to Metromedia; the Metropolitan Broadcasting name was retained for its broadcasting division until 1967.
In separate 1963 deals the company expanded into Los Angeles, buying first KTTV and later KLAC and the original KLAC-FM (now KIIS-FM). The company would later engineer a swap of FM facilities; the second KLAC-FM (later KMET and now KTWV) was established in 1965. Metromedia also entered the realm of live entertainment by purchasing the Ice Capades (in 1963) and the Harlem Globetrotters (in 1967). Later in the decade Metromedia opened a television production center in Los Angeles, known as Metromedia Square, which served as the studio facility for numerous network programs. Metromedia also owned a TV production and distribution company called Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC), established in 1968 from Wolper Productions. MPC produced and syndicated various programs and TV movies, most notably the game show Truth or Consequences and the 1972-86 version of The Merv Griffin Show. Metromedia spent the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s increasing its television and radio station portfolio, and continued to expand its syndication business.
Metromedia entered the Australian standard, was acquired and reissued by A&M Records in 1978.
In 1976, similar to the more successful SFM Holiday Network of syndicated stations launched two years later, Metromedia teamed up with Ogilvy and Mather for a proposed linking of independent TV stations termed MetroNet. The proposed programming would consist of several Sunday night family dramas, on weeknights a half-hour serial and a gothic series similar to Dark Shadows, and on Saturdays a variety program hosted by Charo. The plans for MetroNet failed when advertisers balked at Metromedia's advertising rate, which was only slightly lower than the Big Three's and low national coverage, leaving for another similar operation, Operation Prime Time.
In 1982, Metromedia made its biggest broadcasting purchase when it acquired WCVB-TV in Boston for $220 million, which at the time was the largest amount ever spent on a single television station property. Two years later, John Kluge bought out Metromedia's shareholders and took the company private.
On May 6, 1985, Kluge announced the sale of Metromedia's television stations, and Metromedia Producers Corp., to News Corporation (owned by Australian newspaper publisher Rupert Murdoch) and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (owned jointly by Murdoch and Marvin Davis) for $3.5 billion. With the exception of WCVB-TV (which was subsequently sold to the Hearst Corporation), all of the former Metromedia stations formed the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company, while MPC was folded into 20th Century Fox Television. The transactions became official on March 6, 1986. Kluge also sold Metromedia's outdoor advertising firm, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the Ice Capades in that same year, and spun off the radio stations into a separate company (which ironically took on the Metropolitan Broadcasting name) before they were sold to various other owners by the early 1990s.
Continued usage of the Metromedia name
The Metromedia name has lived on in other projects by Kluge such as the Metromedia Restaurant Group, though the ventures have been largely unrelated to television. The callsign of radio station WMMR in Philadelphia first stood for "MetroMedia Radio". Similarly, radio station WMMS in Cleveland first stood for "MetroMedia Stereo".
In early 2011, former Metromedia Radio trademarks were registered with the US Department of Commerce by a midwestern businessman, combined with a large collection of the WNEW 1130 AM archive library: old shows, concerts and jingle packs, a new "Metromedia Radio" started broadcasting over the internet using the Metromedia Radio name. In 2012, working with Dick Carr, former executive of legacy Metromedia and WNEW radio on air talent Bill Quinn, the new Metromedia Radio expanded into production of radio content for syndication across North American terrestrial radio stations. In 2014 WBGO radio talent Rich Keith partnered with Metromedia Radio in the production and syndication of "Pure Jazz", other shows syndicated by Metromedia Radio include: Martini Mix with Mike Martin, M Squad with Marty Wilson (formerly of WNEW) and An Evening At The Buddies Lounge. Metromedia Radio is also the exclusive broadcaster of the critically acclaimed show The Sinatra Songbook, hosted by Mark Sudock. Metromedia Radio's broadcast stream can be found on Live365, Tunein, Streema and Streame.co.
Based on the common link to Metromedia, television historian Clarke Ingram claims that Fox is a direct descendant, if not a revival, of DuMont. Indeed, the former WNEW-TV, now Fox flagship WNYW, is still headquartered in the former Metromedia (and before that, DuMont) Telecenter, now known as the Fox Television Center. An east entrance of the Fox Television Center in fact still contains an entrance with door handles containing the final Metromedia logo.
In retaliation for a lawsuit brought by Paul Winchell, who sought the rights to his children's television program Winchell-Mahoney Time, which was produced at KTTV in Los Angeles during the middle 1960s, it is believed that KTTV management destroyed the program's video tapes. In 1989 Winchell was awarded nearly $18 million as compensation for Metromedia's capricious behavior.
In 1983, Christine Craft, a former evening news co-anchor at KMBC-TV in Kansas City, sued Metromedia on claims of fraud and sexual discrimination. After spending eight months at KMBC-TV in 1981, she was demoted to reporting assignment after a focus group study claimed Craft was "too old, too unattractive and not deferential to men" in the eyes of viewers. Craft declined the reassignment and subsequently resigned from the station. Craft initially won her case, though she lost on appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ownership of Orion Pictures
On May 22, 1986, Metromedia acquired a 6.5% stake in Orion Pictures Corporation; a movie and television studio. By December, the stake in Orion's ownership was increased to 9.3% to 12.6% and on April 12, 1988, to 44.1% On May 20, 1988, Metromedia acquired Sumner Redstone's share for $78 million, holding a majority stake in Orion Pictures worth nearly 67%. In 1996, Metromedia acquired Motion Picture Corporation of America and The Samuel Goldwyn Company. On April 11, 1997, Metromedia sold Orion/Goldwyn and MPCA to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $573 million and was closed on July 10 of the same year. In 1998, MPCA broke apart from MGM becoming independent again.
Beginning in 1967, Metromedia's television stations began utilizing a sans-serif font for their on-air logo. The typeface was a proprietary font called Metromedia Television Alphabet, which was as distinctive as the typeface employed by Group W for its TV and radio stations beginning in 1963. Metromedia Television Alphabet was used for the channel numbers of its television stations until 1977, when another typeface modeled slightly after the Futura family was introduced.
Former Metromedia stations
Stations are listed alphabetically by state and city of license.
1. Two boldface asterisks appearing following a station's call letters (**) indicate a station that was built and signed-on by Metromedia or its predecessor companies;
2. This list does not include WDTV (now KDKA-TV) in Pittsburgh or KCTY in Kansas City. Although DuMont owned the two stations at some point, Metromedia never owned either of these two stations.
|AM Stations||FM Stations|
|City of License/Market||Station||Years owned||Current Ownership|
|San Francisco - Oakland||KNEW–910||1966–1980||iHeartMedia|
|Denver - Boulder||KHOW–630||1981–1985||iHeartMedia|
|Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater||
|Baltimore||WCBM–680||1963–1986||WCBM Maryland Inc.|
|Kansas City, Missouri||
|New York City||
|Cleveland||WHK–1420 2||1958–1972||Salem Communications|
|Dallas - Fort Worth||KRLD–1080 3||1978–1986||CBS Radio|
|Seattle - Tacoma||KJR–950||1980–1984||iHeartMedia|
1: The acquisition of KMBC-AM-TV also included KMOS-TV in Sedalia, Missouri, and KFRM radio in Concordia, Kansas. Both stations were subsequently spun off by Metropolitan Broadcasting to other firms;
2: DuMont Broadcasting also acquired a construction permit for WHK-TV (channel 19) in Cleveland along with its purchase of WHK radio in 1958, but that station never signed on. The channel 19 allocation is now occupied by WOIO, which was under common ownership with WHK (Malrite Broadcasting) for a few years;
3: The acquisition of KRLD also included the Texas State Network.
This is a list of television programs that were produced and/or syndicated by Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC):
- The Ann Sothern Show
- Allen Ludden's Gallery
- Charlie's Angels *
- The Cross-Wits
- Dusty's Trail
- Dynasty (distributor, 1985–1986)
- Family *
- The Great Space Coaster (co-produced with Sunbow Productions)
- Groovie Goolies and Friends
- Hart to Hart *
- Hit Man
- The Howdy Doody Show (1976 revival series)
- Jeopardy! (original version - distributor, 1974; now owned by Sony Pictures Television)
- Mayberry RFD (distributor; now distributed by Warner Bros. Television)
- The Merv Griffin Show (distributor/co-producer, 1972–1983 now distributed by Sony Pictures Television and owned by Merv Griffin Entertainment)
- My Favorite Martian (distributor; now distributed by Warner Bros. Television)
- National Geographic Specials (1964–71)
- Primus (1971–72)
- Queen for a Day (1969–1970)
- Small Wonder (production company, 1985–1986)
- Soul Train (syndicated by Tribune Entertainment then Trifecta Entertainment and Media)
- Starsky and Hutch *
- Star Search (production company, 1983–86)
- Strange Paradise
- Strike Force
- S.W.A.T. *
- That Girl (distributor; now distributed by CBS Television Distribution)
- Thicke of the Night (distributor; now distributed by Warner Bros. Television)
- T.J. Hooker *
- Too Close for Comfort
- Truth or Consequences (distributor, 1966–78)
- The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
- Untamed World
- Vega$ (distributor; now distributed by CBS Television Distribution and owned by Spelling Television)
- Winchell-Mahoney Time
* -- MPC was the international distributor for these programs. Distribution was later transferred to 20th Century Fox Television, following Murdoch's acquisition of MPC. These programs ane now distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Television. In the United States, Sony Pictures Television and its predecessor, Columbia Pictures Television, was always the distributor of syndicated repeats of these programs.
- About Us - MetroMedia Technologies. Mmt.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
- Archived December 31, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- "DuMont network to quit in telecasting 'spin-off.'" Broadcasting - Telecasting, August 15, 1955, pg. 64. 
- "DuMont completes spin-off, separates broadcasting, labs.'" Broadcasting - Telecasting, December 5, 1955, pg. 7. 
- "DuMont pays $7.5 million for WNEW." Broadcasting, March 25, 1957, pp. 31-32. 
- , November 18, 1957, pg. 96Broadcasting"Changing Hands."
- "For the Record." Broadcasting - Telecasting, January 6, 1958, p. 108. 
- "DuMont revenue grows, name change approved." Broadcasting, May 19, 1958, pg. 84. 
- "Kluge buying Paramount's 21% of Metropolitan Broadcasting." Broadcasting, December 1, 1958, pg. 9. 
- , September 8, 1958, pg. 84Broadcasting"Name change."
- , April 21, 1958, pg. 58Broadcasting"Changing hands."
- Spielvogel, Carl. "Advertising: an acquisition set." The New York Times, Dec. 20, 1959.
- "3 blessings with 2 rebukes." Broadcasting, January 4, 1960, pg. 40. 
- , January 18, 1960, pp. 95-96Broadcasting"Changing hands."
- "Metropolitan buying KMBC." Broadcasting, December 26, 1960, pp. 51-52. 
- "It's Metromedia." Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 3, 1961, pg. 56. 
- "Metromedia gets its TV team in uniform." Broadcasting, March 25, 1968, pp. 56-57. 
- "KTTV to Metromedia for $10 million plus." Broadcasting, January 14, 1963, pg. 9. 
- "Metromedia adds KLAC in $4.5 million deal." Broadcasting, March 18, 1963, pp. 9-10. 
- "Changing hands." Broadcasting, March 22, 1965, pp. 110-111: Metromedia acquires KRHM (94.7 FM) and sells KLAC-FM (102.7 FM); the FCC allows both facilities to exchange call letters. 
- "Ice Capades Acquired By Metromedia, Inc." The New York Times, May 14, 1963.
- Gent, George. "Metromedia buys Globetrotters; TV chain will add team to Ice Capades operation." The New York Times, May 24, 1967.
- Peter Allen discography; www.allmusic.com.
- Peter Allen discography; www5d.biglobe.ne.jp.
- Nadel, Gerry (1977-05-30). "Who Owns Prime Time? The Threat of the 'Occasional' Networks". New York Magazine (New York): 34–35. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- Schwartz, Tony. "Metromedia seeks TV station." The New York Times, July 23, 1981.
- Cuff, Daniel F. "Business people; Metromedia's founder begins new challenge." The New York Times, Dec. 14, 1983.
- Cole, Robert J.. "Murdoch to buy & TV stations; cost $2 billion." The New York Times, May 7, 1985.
- Stevenson, Richard W. "Metromedia ad business sale". The New York Times, Jan. 21, 1986.
- Fabrikant, Geraldine. "Metromedia set to sell Globetrotters, ice show." The New York Times, Mar. 5, 1986.
- "Metromedia, Katz radio groups sold in LBO's." Broadcasting, March 31, 1986, pp. 33-34. 
- , November 17, 1986, pg. 120Broadcasting"In brief."
- "Mike Wallace’s New York: The two TV newsrooms that shaped him (and his favorite place for meatloaf)". The Retrologist. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- , July 3, 1989, pg. 37Broadcasting"Victory for ventriloquist."
- "Newsroom issue goes to court." Broadcasting, August 1, 1983, pp. 24-25. 
- "Craft decision leaves questions." Broadcasting, August 15, 1983, pp. 28-30. 
- , December 23, 1985, pg. 69Broadcasting"Craft case continues."
- "Christine Craft wins two, loses big one." Broadcasting, March 10, 1986, pp. 74-75. 
- Metromedia's Orion Stake, chicagotribune.com
- Metromedia's Orion Stake, newyorktimes.com
- Bates, James. "Metromedia to Sell Film Units to MGM for $573 million." The New York Times. April 29, 1997.
- "Years of Hits, Misses Comes to Close." Daily News of Los Angeles. July 10, 1997; Bates, James. "MGM Lays Off 85 in Metromedia Film, TV Units." Los Angeles Times. July 11, 1997.
- "$9.65 million sale of KMBC." Broadcasting, July 31, 1961, pp. 45-46. 
- John Kluge at the Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television
- Metromedia Producers Corporation at the Internet Movie Database
- Metromedia Productions at the Internet Movie Database
- Metromedia Television at the Internet Movie Database (Note - although three separate companies are listed on the IMDb, it should be understood that Metromedia Producers Corporation, Metromedia Productions and Metromedia Television are all different names given for the same production company.)
- New York times 1986 announcement of MetroMedia liquidation