The courtship of NBC by the Hearld-Traveler

Scott Fybush
Sun Jun 21 02:05:27 EDT 2009

A. Joseph Ross wrote:

> And also Meet the Press, which previously had aired on Channel 2, 
> without commercials.  And the Huntley-Brinkley news, which also had 
> previously been carried on channel 2, since channel 4 didn't carry 
> it.  And a couple of noontime game shows that channel 4 blanked in 
> favor of noon news and Big Brother Bob Emery.  With the large number 
> of NBC shows channel 4 was blanking, it's understandable why NBC was 
> upset with them.

Just to add a bit of historical context before I call it a 
of the reasons Westinghouse got away with all this was that the FCC in 
that era took a very suspicious view of the networks. The "Report on 
Chain Broadcasting" of 1939-1940 had led not only to the breakup of 
NBC's two-network radio system (spinning off what became ABC), but also 
to a series of rule changes that gave local stations the much stronger 
hand in the affiliate-network relationship.

Westinghouse milked this for all it was worth, and it's worth noting 
that in the late 50s, before the launch of the "Group W" identity and 
around the time that the radio stations went independent, the 
Westinghouse stations were often identified in corporate advertising and 
in the trades as "WBC - Westinghouse Broadcasting Company." Don McGannon 
believed his stations were powerful enough, and originated enough joint 
programming through their DC and foreign news bureaus, to fully compete 
on their own merits with what the networks were sending out...and he was 
probably right.

So there was little harm to Westinghouse in ticking off NBC, especially 
in light of the Philadelphia affair that was playing out, especially 
with an equally strong CBS as the backup option for TV and the sense 
that a network affiliation was no longer needed on radio.

That mentality was still in place when I came to what was left of Group 
W in the early '90s; I don't think there was an NBC peacock to be seen 
anywhere on the TV side, and our network affiliations on radio (ABC, 
CNN, AP) certainly took a back seat to our local branding.


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