Culture and Recreation

Radio and Television

Which was the first TV network?

It was the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), founded November 11, 1926, by David Sarnoff (1891–1971), who was then president of Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Sarnoff, considered one of the pioneers of radio and television broadcasting, created NBC to provide a program service to stimulate the sale of radios. In the 1940s he reorganized the network to provide TV programming, again to stimulate sales of RCA products—this time, televisions. It was Sarnoff who demonstrated television at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939.

Next came Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), on September 26, 1928, which was established by William S. Paley (1901–1990), an advertising manager for Congress Cigar Company. Paley sold some of his stock in the cigar company in order to raise $275,000 to buy into the beleaguered United Independent Broadcasters (which controlled Columbia Phonograph, hence the name). He built the floundering radio network into a powerful and profitable broadcasting organization.

The American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television network was last, in 1943. It was only by government order that the third network, ABC, was created at all. In 1943, when RCA was ordered to give up one of its two radio networks, it surrendered the weaker of the two (NBC Blue), which was bought by Edward J. Noble, the father of Life Savers candy. In 1945 Noble formally changed the name to the American Broadcasting Company, which three years later began broadcasting television from its New York flagship station.


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