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Sunday, October 14, 2007

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American television network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center. It is sometimes referred to as the Peacock Network due to its stylized peacock logo. The network is now a part of the media company NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric (GE) and Vivendi, and supplies programming to more than 200 affiliated U.S. stations.
Formed in 1926 by RCA, control of NBC passed to GE in 1986 following GE's $6.4 billion purchase of RCA. Since this acquisition, the chief executive of NBC (now NBC Universal) was Bob Wright, until he retired, giving his job to Jeff Zucker.

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) radio network went on the air with twenty-four affiliated stations on November 15, 1926. It was owned by Radio Corporation of America (RCA), itself set up in 1919 to control Guglielmo Marconi's American patents; RCA in turn was owned by General Electric Company (GE), the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the United Fruit Company and American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T).

During a period of early consolidation in the broadcasting business, RCA had acquired New York radio station WEAF from AT&T. RCA shareholder Westinghouse had a competing facility in Newark, pioneer station WJZ, which also served as the originating station for a loosely-structured network. This station was transferred from Westinghouse to RCA in 1923, and moved to New York.
WEAF had been a laboratory for AT&T's Western Electric, which manufactured transmitters and antennas. AT&T's long-distance and local Bell operating divisions were developing technologies for transmitting voice- and music-grade audio over short and long distances, via both wireless and wired methods. So AT&T's creation of station WEAF in 1922 offered a research-and-development center for these activities. WEAF put together a regular schedule of programs of all types, and created some of the first broadcasts to incorporate commercial endorsements or sponsorships. It was an immediate success, and created links with other stations to offer coverage of sports or political events. WEAF's first efforts in what would become known first as "chain broadcasting" and later as "networking" tied together Outlet Company's WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island with AT&T's WCAP in Washington, D.C. (named for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company division of AT&T). RCA also saw an advantage in sharing programming, and after getting a license for station WRC in Washington, D.C. in 1923, attempted to transmit audio between cities via low-quality telegraph lines (since AT&T refused outside companies access to their high-quality phone lines). The effort was poor at best, with the uninsulated telegraph lines incapable of good audio transmission quality and very susceptible to both atmospheric and man-made electrical interference.
In 1925 the management of AT&T decided that WEAF and its network was not compatible with AT&T's goal of providing a phone service, and offered to sell the station to RCA, whose business was set manufacturing. When RCA bought WEAF, it gained rights to rent AT&T's phone lines for network transmission.

Earliest Stations: WEAF & WJZ
For $1 million, RCA acquired radio station WEAF and a Washington sister-station, WCAP, which it shut down. This transaction accompanied the announcement, in the late summer of 1926, of a new wholly owned division of RCA called The National Broadcasting Company.

Red & Blue Networks

Main article: NBC chimes The Chimes
From its creation in 1934, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had studied the monopolistic effects of network broadcasting on the industry, and found that NBC's two networks and their owned-and-operated stations dominated audiences, affiliates and advertising dollars in American radio. In 1939 the FCC ordered RCA to divest itself of one of the two networks; RCA fought the divestiture order, but divided NBC into two companies in 1940 in case an appeal was lost. The Blue network became the "NBC Blue Network, Inc." (now as ABC) and the NBC Red became "NBC Red Network, Inc." In January, 1942, the two networks had their operations formally divorced, and the Blue Network was referred to on the air as either "Blue" or "Blue Network," with its official corporate name being Blue Network Company, Inc. NBC Red, on the air, became known as simply NBC.
With the loss of the final appeal before the United States Supreme Court in May, 1943, RCA sold Blue Network Company, Inc. for $8 million to Lifesavers magnate Edward J. Noble, completing the sale in October, 1943. For his money, Noble got the network name, leases on land-lines and the New York studios, two-and-a half stations (WJZ in Newark/New York, KGO in San Francisco and WENR in Chicago which shared a frequency with "Prairie Farmer" station WLS) and about 60 affiliates. Noble wanted a more memorable name for the network; in 1944 he acquired rights to the name "American Broadcasting Company" from George Storer and the Blue Network became ABC, with the official name change announced on June 15, 1945, after the sale was completed.
(For a detailed description of the events leading up to the 1943 sale of the NBC Blue Network, and its 1943-5 history, see Blue Network.)

New Beginnings: The Blue Network Becomes ABC
In the golden days of network broadcasting, 1930 to 1950, NBC was the pinnacle of American radio. Home to many of the most popular stars and programs, NBC stations were often the most powerful, or occupied clear-channel frequencies so that they were heard nation-wide. Such well-known stars as Al Jolson, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Johnny Carson and Fred Allen called NBC home, as did Arturo Toscanini's NBC Symphony. NBC also broadcast radio's earliest hit, Amos 'n' Andy, in its original fifteen-minute serial format that set the standard for just about all serialised programming in the first radio era, whether for comedies or soap operas.
As television became more popular in the 1950s, many NBC radio stars gravitated there. Toscanini made his ten television appearances on NBC between 1948 and 1952. In 1950, the network sanctioned The Big Show, a 90-minute radio variety show that harked back to radio's earliest musical variety style but with sophisticated comedy and dramatic presentations and featuring stage legend Tallulah Bankhead as its host. It aimed to keep classic radio alive as television matured and to challenge CBS's Sunday night lineup —much of which had jumped there from NBC in the late 1940s, including (and especially) Jack Benny. But The Big Show's initial success didn't last despite critics' praises; the show endured only two years, with NBC said to lose a million dollars on the project.
NBC Radio's last major programming push, in 1955, was Monitor, a continuous, all-weekend mixture of music, news, interviews and features with a variety of hosts including such well-known television personalities as Dave Garroway, Hugh Downs, Ed McMahon, Joe Garagiola and Gene Rayburn. The potpourri also tried to keep vintage radio alive in featuring segments from Jim and Marian Jordan (in character as Fibber McGee and Molly), Ethel & Albert, and iconoclastic satirist Henry Morgan, among others. Monitor was a success for a number of years, but after the mid-1960s, local stations, especially in larger markets, became increasingly reluctant to break from their established formats to run non-conforming network programming. After Monitor went off the air in early 1975, there was little left of NBC Radio beyond hourly newscasts and news-related features.
Later in 1975, NBC launched the NBC News and Information Service, which provided up to 55 minutes of news per hour around the clock to local stations that wanted to adopt an all-news format. The service attracted several dozen subscribers, but not enough to allow NBC to project that it would ever become profitable, and it was discontinued after two years. Near the end of the 1970s, NBC started "The Source," a modestly successful secondary network that provided news and short features to FM rock stations.
After their 1986 acquisition of NBC, GE decided that the radio business did not fit their strategic objectives. NBC Radio's network operations were sold to Westwood One, and the NBC-owned stations were sold to various buyers. In 1989, the "NBC Radio Network" as an independent programming service ceased to exist, becoming a brand-name for content produced by Westwood One - and ultimately by CBS Radio. (The same case occurred with the Mutual Broadcasting System, which Westwood One acquired two years earlier and essentially merged with NBC Radio.)
By the late 1990s "NBC"-branded newscasts were being produced only on weekday mornings; around 2003 even these were discontinued, and the remaining NBC Radio Network affiliates began to receive CNN Radio-branded newscasts at all hours. At about the same time Westwood One began to distribute a new service called NBC News Radio, consisting of brief news updates read by NBC News and MSNBC anchors and reporters.

Defining Radio's Golden Age
For many years NBC was closely identified with David Sarnoff, who used it as a vehicle to sell consumer electronics. It was Sarnoff who ruthlessly stole innovative ideas from competitors, using RCA's muscle to prevail in the courts. RCA and Sarnoff had dictated the broadcasting standards put in place by the FCC in 1938, and stole the spotlight by introducing all-electronic television to the public at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair, simultaneously initiating a regular schedule of programs on the NBC-RCA television station in New York City. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appeared at the fair, before the NBC cameras, becoming the first U.S. president to appear on television on April 30, 1939. An actual, off-the-monitor photograph of the FDR telecast can be viewed at The broadcast was transmitted by NBC's New York television station W2XBS Channel 1 (now WNBC-TV channel 4) and was seen by about 1,000 viewers within the station's roughly 40-mile coverage area from their Empire State Building transmitter location. The next day, May 1, four models of RCA television sets went on sale to the general public in various New York City department stores, promoted in a series of splashy newspaper ads. It is to be noted that DuMont (and others) actually offered the first home sets in 1938 in anticipation of NBC's announced April 1939 start-up. Later in 1939, NBC took its cameras to professional football and baseball games in the New York City area, establishing many "firsts" in the history of television. Actual NBC "network" broadcasts (more than one station) began about this time with occasional special events--such as the King and Queen of England's visit to the New York World's Fair--being seen in Philadelphia (over the station which would become WPTZ, now KYW) and in Schenectady (over the station which would become WRGB), two pioneer stations in their own right. The most ambitious NBC television "network" program of this pre-war era was the telecasting of the Republican National Convention in 1940 from Philadelphia, which was fed live to New York and Schenectady (photographs and specifics of the 1940 convention telecast at However, despite major promotion by RCA, television set sales in New York in the 1939-1940 period were disappointing, primarily due to the high cost of the sets, and the lack of compelling regular programming. Most sets were sold to bars, hotels and other public places, where the general public viewed special sporting and news events.
NBC's experimental New York City station was licensed for commercial telecasts beginning on July 1, 1941, adopting the call letters WNBT (it is now WNBC-TV). The first official commercial on that day was for Bulova Watches, seen just before the start of a Brooklyn Dodgers telecast. Limited programming continued until the U.S. entered World War II. Telecasts were curtailed in the early years of the war, then expanded as NBC began to prepare for full service upon the war's end. On VE-Day, 1945, WNBT broadcast hours of news coverage, and remotes from around New York City. This event was pre-promoted by NBC with a direct-mail card ( sent to television set owners in the New York area. At one point, a WNBT camera placed atop the marquee of the Hotel Astor, panned the crowd below celebrating the end of the war in Europe. It was, by all reports, a thrilling prelude of things to come as television began its rapid ascent into the American household. After the war ended, development of television soared ahead and the NBC television network grew from its initial post-war lineup of four stations. The World Series of 1947 featured two New York teams (Yankees and Dodgers) and local TV sales boomed, since the games were telecast in New York. Stations along the East coast and Midwest were gradually connected by coaxial cable in the 1940s until September 1951, when the first transcontinental telecasts took place.
The early 1950s brought massive success for NBC in the new medium, as it launched television's first superstar in Milton Berle, whose antics on the The Texaco Star Theater drew massive audiences. Also, the network launched Today and The Tonight Show, which would bookend the broadcast day for over fifty years, continuing to this day to draw more eyes than the comparable offerings of other networks.
While rivals CBS and DuMont also offered color broadcasting plans, RCA convinced a waffling FCC that its color system should prevail, and in December 1953 the FCC agreed; the NBC network was to begin offering color programming within days of the FCC's decision. NBC began broadcasting certain shows in color in 1954, and the first NBC show to air all episodes in color, The Marriage, was shown that summer. In 1956 during a National Association meeting in Chicago, NBC announced that their Chicago TV station — WNBQ (now WMAQ-TV), was the first color TV station in the nation (at least six hours of color broadcasts a day). By 1963, most of NBC's prime time schedule was in color; without television sets to sell, rival networks followed more slowly, ABC in 1965-66 and CBS adopting the color standard effective September 11, 1967. Days of Our Lives was the first soap opera to premiere in color television.

The 1970s started strongly for the network thanks to hits like Laugh-In, Emergency!, Adam-12, The Dean Martin Show, and The Flip Wilson Show, but this did not last. In spite of the success of such new shows as The NBC Mystery Movie, Sanford and Son, Chico and the Man, Little House on the Prairie, The Rockford Files, and Quincy, M.E., as well as continued success from veterans like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and The Wonderful World of Disney, the network entered a slump in the middle of the decade. Disney, in particular, saw its ratings nosedive once CBS put 60 Minutes up against it in the 1975-1976 season. None of the new shows NBC introduced in the fall of 1975 was invited back for a second season; they all failed because of established competition.
Starting in 1974 under new president Herb Schlosser, the network tried to go after younger viewers with a series of costly movies, miniseries and specials. This not only did not attract the desirable 18-34 demographic but managed to alienate older viewers.

1970s Doldrums
In the summer of 1981, Fred Silverman resigned. Grant Tinker became president of the network and Brandon Tartikoff became chief of programming. Tartikoff inherited a schedule full of aging dramas and very few sitcoms, but showed patience with programs that showed promise. One such show was the critically acclaimed Hill Street Blues, which rated poorly in its first season. Instead of cancelling it, he moved the Emmy-winning police drama to Thursday night where its ratings improved dramatically. He followed the same tactic with St. Elsewhere; shows like these were able to get the same ad revenue as their higher-rated, mass-audience competition because of their high numbers in the right demographics, mainly upscale, 18-34 year old viewers . While the network could claim mid-sized successes with Gimme a Break!, Silver Spoons, Knight Rider and Remington Steele, the network's biggest hit by far in this period was The A-Team, which, at 10th place, was the network's only Top 20 rated show of the 1982-1983 season. Shows like these helped them through the disastrous 1983-1984 season in which none of its new shows saw a second year. These nine series were: Bay City Blues, Boone, For Love and Honor, Jennifer Slept Here, Manimal, The Rousters, Mr. Smith, We Got it Made, and The Yellow Rose. This is the only time in history that a network's entire line of new series has failed to be renewed for a second season since the network's fall 1978 lineup.
In 1982, the network cancelled Tom Snyder's The Tomorrow Show and gave the time slot to 34-year-old comedian David Letterman. Though Letterman had had an unsuccessful daytime series in 1980, Late Night with David Letterman proved much more successful.
In 1984, the huge success of The Cosby Show led to a renewed interest in sitcoms, while Family Ties and Cheers, both of which premiered in 1982 to mediocre ratings, saw their viewership levels increase exponentially from having Cosby as a lead-in. The network moved from third place to second place that year, and claimed first place in the Nielsen rankings in the 1985-1986 season thanks to smash hits like The Golden Girls, Miami Vice, 227, Night Court, Highway to Heaven, and Hunter. The network's upswing continued throughout the decade thanks to such shows as ALF, Amen, Matlock, L.A. Law, The Hogan Family, A Different World, Empty Nest, and In the Heat of the Night. In the 1988-1989 season, NBC won every week in the ratings for over a full year, an achievement not since duplicated.

Tartikoff's Turnaround
In 1991, Tartikoff left NBC to take a position at Paramount Pictures. In one decade he had taken control of a network with no shows in the Nielsen Top 10 and left it with five. Warren Littlefield took his place; his start was shaky due to the end of most of the Tartikoff-era hits; additionally, some blamed him for losing David Letterman to CBS after giving The Tonight Show to Jay Leno when Johnny Carson retired in 1992. Things soon turned around with such hit series Mad About You, Friends, Frasier, ER, and Will & Grace. It was during this period that Seinfeld, one of Tartikoff's later acquisitions, became TV's number-one rated show. The famous Must-See TV tag line was applied to Thursday night's seemingly unbeatable lineup. Unfortunately, this was not to last.
When CBS chose Survivor to anchor its Thursday night line-up, its success was taken as a suggestion that NBC's nearly two decades of Thursday night dominance could be broken. With the loss of Friends and Frasier in 2004, NBC was faced with several moderately-rated shows and few true ratings hits. This, combined with CBS's popular CSI franchise, FOX's American Idol, and ABC hits such as Lost, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, has led to NBC being currently ranked as the fourth most watched television network in the United States, after CBS, a resurgent ABC, and Fox. Still, much of NBC's woes can be attributed to the overall loss of network viewership to increased competition from cable, home video, and the internet.
During the 2004-05 season, NBC became the first major television network to start producing its programming in widescreen, with the hopes of attracting new viewers. Though NBC did see a slight boost in viewers, NBC didn't get any real ratings rise, since widescreen television has yet to catch on in popular culture.
In December 2005, NBC unleashed its first-ever week-long primetime game show event, Deal or No Deal, to big ratings by the end of its first week-long run and returned multi-weekly in March 2006. Having enjoyed sustained success, Deal or No Deal returned in the fall of 2006. But otherwise the 2005-06 season would be one of the worst for NBC in three decades, with only one series (My Name Is Earl) that debuted that fall surviving into a second season. The 2006-07 season was a mixed bag, with Heroes becoming a surprise hit on Monday nights, while the highly-anticipated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip lost a third of its premiere-night viewers by week six and was eventually canned by the end of the season. The return of NFL football (eight years after NBC originally lost their rights), the still-strong Deal or No Deal, and the third season of The Office (fresh off its Emmy Award win for Outstanding Comedy Series) have so far not helped NBC out of fourth place.
It was reported in March 2007 that NBC will let viewers buy full-length prime-time television shows like The Office and Heroes on-demand to play on mobile phones. This will be a first for the United States. It is the latest effort by media and wireless companies to entice consumers to watch video on their phones.

"Must See TV" and Beyond
It was estimated in 2003 that NBC is viewable by just over 97 percent of all households, reaching 103,624,370 viewers in the United States. NBC has 10 owned-and-operated stations and nearly 200 affiliates in the United States and its possessions. It is also seen throughout Latin America and the Caribbean via cable and satellite, via the WNBC feed from New York City, and in Canada via the WDIV feed from Detroit, WGRZ Buffalo, WHDH Boston, KHQ Spokane and KING Seattle depending on which affiliate the cable or satellite provider decided to carry.

Corporate Tidbits
NBC News currently has the highest rated morning show program (Today).

National Broadcasting Company NBC News
NBC presently operates on an 87-hour regular network programming schedule. It provides 22 hours of prime time programming to affiliated stations: 8:00-11:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday (all times ET/PT) and 7:00-11:00 p.m. on Sundays. Programming is also provided 7:00-10:00 a.m. weekdays in the form of Today, which also has a two-hour Saturday and one-hour Sunday edition; anytime between 12:00-3:00 p.m. weekdays (currently the soaps Days of Our Lives and Passions); nightly editions of NBC Nightly News; the Sunday political talk show Meet the Press; weekday early-morning news program Early Today; late night talk shows The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly; sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live; recently-added Poker After Dark, which airs following Last Call on weeknights and SNL on Saturday nights (or after re-broadcasts of local affiliate news); weeknight rebroadcasts of The Tonight Show under the banner NBC Up All Night; and a three-hour Saturday morning animation block under the name qubo. In addition, sports programming is also provided weekend afternoons any time from 12:00-6:00 p.m. ET, or tape-delayed PT.

Further information: List of programs broadcast by NBC
Returning comedies are in red; new comedies are in pink; returning dramas are in green; new dramas are in blue; returning reality shows are in yellow; new reality shows are in gold; returning game shows are in orange; new game shows are in beige; news programming is in brown; sports programming is in purple.
All times are Eastern and Pacific (subtract one hour for Central and Mountain time), with the exception of Sunday (see below).
See also: 2006-07 United States network television schedule

Prime time
NBC's Fall upfront presentation & schedule changes
See also: 2007-08 United States network television schedule

Returning midseason shows are dramas Medium and Law & Order and game show 1 vs. 100. Law & Order: Criminal Intent moved to USA. Fall 2007
NBC currently airs two daytime dramas, Days of our Lives and Passions. In 2007, Passions will make way for a fourth hour of Today. Long-running NBC daytime dramas of the past include Another World, The Doctors and Santa Barbara. NBC also aired the final four and a half years of Search for Tomorrow after the series was ended by CBS.
Notable long-running daytime game shows seen on NBC include Concentration, Let's Make a Deal, The Match Game, Jeopardy!, The Hollywood Squares, Wheel of Fortune, Password Plus/Super Password, Sale of the Century and Scrabble. Game shows left NBC's daytime schedule, presumably for good, in 1994.

Children's programming
In April, 2000, NBCi purchased a company that specialized with search engines that learnt from the users searches for $32 million, called GlobalBrain.
From 2001-2002, NBC briefly changed their web address to, in a heavily-advertised attempt to launch an Internet portal and start page. This move saw NBC teaming up with,,[1] and (eventually acquiring all four of them), launching a multi-faceted internet portal with e-mail, webhosting, community, chat, personalization and news capabilities. This experiment lasted roughly one season, and failed [2], and NBCi was liquidated. The NBC-TV portion of the website was then reverted to However, the NBCi Web site continued as a portal for NBC-branded content (the URL redirected to, using a co-branded version of InfoSpace to deliver minimal portal content. The website ceased to exist altogether after April 2, 2007, as most major corporations see no need for internet portals anymore, considering the widespread ubiquity of the internet.


Main article: NBC logos Evolution of the NBC logo

International broadcasts
Many cities in Canada including Toronto, Ontario, Vancouver, BC and Montreal, Quebec receive many United States NBC affiliates either over the air and on cable television and satellite television providers. In places far from the border, cable and satellite are the only ways to pick up NBC signals clearly. Aside from Simultaneous substitution, the programming and broadcasting is the same as in the United States.

The Seven Network has close ties with NBC and has used many of its slogans (including Let's All Be There). Seven News has featured "The Mission" as its news theme since the mid 1980s. Local newscasts were named Seven Nightly News from the mid 80s until around 2000.

NBC Nightly News is shown on CNBC Europe. NBC is not shown outside the Americas on a channel in its own right. However, both NBC News and MSNBC are shown for a few hours a day on Orbit News in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. MSNBC is also shown occasionally on sister network CNBC Europe during breaking news.
In 1993, NBC began production of Canal de Noticias NBC. This service was beamed to Latin America from the NBC Newschannel headquarters located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over 50 journalists were brought to produce, write, anchor and technically produce a 24 hour news service based on the popular "wheel" conceived at CNN. The service folded in 1997 as sales departments were not able to generate any revenue. After Mexican Noticias ECO, Canal de Noticias NBC holds the distinction of being the first 24 hour news service to be seen in Latin America. Telenoticias, at one point owned by CBS, came later followed by CNN en Español.

Europe and Latin America
In 1993, the Pan-European cable network Super Channel was taken over by General Electric, the parent of NBC, and became NBC Super Channel. In 1996, the channel was renamed NBC Europe, but was, from then on, almost always referred to as simply "NBC" on the air.
Most of NBC Europe's prime time programming was produced in Europe, but after 11PM Central European Time on weekday evenings, the channel aired The Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live, hence its slogan "Where the Stars Come Out at Night." Most NBC News programs were broadcast on NBC Europe, including Dateline NBC and NBC Nightly News, which was aired live. The Today Show was also initially shown live in the afternoons, but was later broadcast the following morning instead, by which time it was more than half a day old.
In 1999, NBC Europe stopped broadcasting to most of Europe. At the same time the network was relaunched as a German language computer channel, targeting a young demographic. The main show on the new NBC Europe was called NBC GIGA. In 2005, the channel was relaunched once again, this time as a free-to-air channel under the name "Das Vierte". GIGA started an own digital channel then, which can be received via satellite and many cable networks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The Tonight Show, Late Night and NBC Nightly News continue to be broadcast on CNBC Europe.

NBC Asia

List of assets owned by Vivendi
List of assets owned by General Electric
Rockefeller Center
GE Building
RCA Building
NBC News
NBC Sports
Must See TV
NBC Studios
NBC Productions
List of programs broadcast by NBC
List of shows previously aired by NBC
List of United States television networks
List of NBC affiliates, arranged by market
List of NBC affiliates, arranged by state
List of NBC slogans
List of NBC personalities
Lists of corporate assets
NBC chimes
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