Maybe Scott can unravel this FCC move from long ago

Scott Fybush
Sun Feb 3 12:01:37 EST 2008

Garrett Wollman wrote:
> <<On Sun, 3 Feb 2008 11:29:47 -0500, said:
>> What is unclear is how the FCC revoked the channel 2 license owned
>> by Zenith to allow Paley to move to channel 2.
> Zenith's channel 2 was never licensed commercially; that may have been
> one reason.  

That's quite correct - and I'm not at all clear as to why Zenith never 
applied for a commercial license, which would have been granted quite 
easily, considering how long the company had been established in Chicago 
television by then.

It may also have been that Zenith saw television broadcasting as 
becoming a big-ticket business, especially for a station with no hope of 
a network affiliation (the sale of the WBKB-TV 4 license to CBS meant 
that each of the "Big 3" networks owned its own Chicago outlet, while 
DuMont had a strong relationship with Tribune's WGN-TV), so it provided 
an opportunity to exit gracefully.

I suspect the organization that would eventually become WTTW on channel 
11 must have been pretty well established by then; had the plans for 
educational TV in Chicago been less settled, one might imagine Zenith 
trying to get channel 11 reallocated for commercial use.

It's interesting to imagine what might have happened had Zenith been 
commercially licensed on channel 2 in 1953. WBBM-TV would have had to 
stay on 4, which would in turn have forced WTMJ either to stay on 3 
(reallocating Kalamazoo to some channel other than 3, and ultimately 
making Madison an all-UHF market), or perhaps WBBM would have been 
shuffled up to 13, affecting later allocations on that channel in Grand 
Rapids and Rockford.

One wonders, too, whether WGN-TV would have been so dominant an 
independent had it had competition on the VHF dial from Zenith on channel 2.

(Had Zenith managed to stay put on 2, it's a pretty good bet that we'd 
now have "Fox 2 Chicago" instead of "Fox 32 Chicago"!)


More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list