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Overmyer Network

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Overmyer Network
The United Network
TypeBroadcast television network
Country
AvailabilityDefunct
FoundedJuly 12, 1966 (1966-07-12)
by Daniel H. Overmyer
Launch date
May 1, 1967 (1967-05-01)
DissolvedJune 1, 1967 (1967-06-01)
(31 days)

The Overmyer Network/United Network was a television network. It was intended to be a fourth national commercial network in the United States, competing with the Big Three television networks. The network was founded by self-made millionaire Daniel H. Overmyer, who started WDHO-TV (now WNWO-TV, an NBC affiliate), in his birthplace, Toledo, Ohio, which signed on the air on May 3, 1966.[1] Overmyer had construction permits for several other UHF stations that were intended to be owned-and-operated stations of the new network. Before going on the air, the majority interest in those stations was sold to AVC Corporation in March of 1967.[2][3][4][5][6][7] A social conservative ("I'm against smut," he declared), Overmyer decided to create a nationwide hookup, enticing existing stations with a 50-50 profit split with potential affiliates (something that the established network's affiliates had been trying to get from ABC, CBS and NBC for years). Under the leadership of former ABC television president Oliver Treyz, the ON was scheduled to debut in the fall of 1967 with anywhere from 75 to 125 affiliates with an 8 hour broadcasting day.[8][9]

From ON to UN

Original Overmyer Network logo (re-created from an old UPI photograph).
Original Overmyer Network logo (re-created from an old UPI photograph).

The network planned to offer eight hours of programming per day, seven days per week, to its affiliate stations. A daily news service, from United Press International, would provide each station with news. Cultural and sports programming, including Tales from the Great Book (an animated Bible series) and regional games of the Continental Football League, were also planned.[10][11] By July 1966, 35 stations had agreed to affiliate with the new network.[12]

Before the network even went on the air, Overmyer was forced to sell a majority share to investors, although he remained the largest shareholder. In early 1967, Overmyer tried to persuade the Mutual Broadcasting System (who had toyed with the idea of their own TV network in the late 1940s) to engage in a merger of the two networks, as a way to raise more money in the venture. The Mutual board turned thumbs-down on the merger proposal, but three Mutual stockholders formed a separate group with 11 wealthy western businessmen to buy out Overmyer.[13] Rechristened The United Network, which used an upper-case U inside a television screen as the network's logo, the net hit the air on May 1, 1967 with The Las Vegas Show on 106 stations.[14] Hosted by Bill Dana from the Hotel Hacienda in Las Vegas, the two-hour late-night show featured regulars Ann Elder, Pete Barbutti, Danny Meahan, Joanne Worley, Cully Richards and Jack Sheldon.[15]

The network itself, except for a few independent stations in the larger markets, was mostly made up of CBS stations who aired The Las Vegas Show at 11:30 local time, tape delayed from the 11:00 start seen on United-only east coast stations. The network called WPIX in New York City and KHJ-TV in Los Angeles their flagship stations, even though neither was owned by Overmyer/United.[16] Additionally, the WPIX broadcast was often delayed until the weekend due to their commitment to New York Yankees baseball.[17] The network also lacked clearance in some large cities, including San Francisco (which was waiting for KEMO to be approved by the FCC).

The end

The average viewership for The Las Vegas Show was 2.6 million.[18] Despite the hype, initially good reviews and high-caliber guest stars, the network quickly started to bleed money; the transmission lines leased from the Bell System, which was the main carrier for television network transmissions at the time, proved to be too expensive. Sources close to the network also claimed that the network launch was too close to the end of the traditional broadcast season, when major sponsors were near the end of their advertising budgets. (During the last days of operation, network president Oliver Treyz made an on-air appeal to potential sponsors, pointing out that air time on Las Vegas was a mere $6,000 a minute, barely a third of what NBC was charging for The Tonight Show.)[19] Both show and network disappeared after the June 1 (some sources say June 3 or June 5) broadcast.[20][21]

A notice was sent to the network's 107 affiliate stations the first week of June. The notice stated:[22]

"The executive committee of our board of directors, instructed me to inform you that with deep regret we are obliged to advise you that the United Network ceased its interconnected program operations as of May 31, 1967.

"Please be advised that the United Network staff has done everything possible in connection without [sic] efforts to plan and launch the Las Vegas program and other United Network endeavors.

"Station co-operation has been magnificent. We are indeed indebted to you for all your help. Regretfully, Oliver Treyz."

At the time of the company's bankruptcy declaration, the United Network had accrued a nearly $700,000 debt.[23]

Overmyer / United affiliates

The Las Vegas Show was aired in the following markets as verified by citations:

Station City and Network Affiliation
WPIX 11 New York Independent[24]
KHJ-TV 9 Los Angeles Independent[25][26]
WGN-TV 9 Chicago Independent[27]
WPHL-TV 17 Philadelphia Independent[28]
KEMO-TV 20 San Francisco  Independent;[29][30][31] original affiliate but did not sign on until 1968, The Las Vegas Show did not air in San Francisco[32]
WKBD-TV 50 Detroit Independent[33]
WBMO-TV 36 Atlanta Independent;[34] original affiliate but did not sign on until 1969 as WATL-TV, Las Vegas Show actually aired on WAGA-TV Ch. 5 (CBS)
WDHO 24 Toledo, Ohio Independent[35]
KTNT 11 Seattle-Tacoma, Washington Independent[36]
KZAZ 11 Tucson, Arizona Independent[37]
KWGN-TV 2 Denver Independent[38][39]
WECO-TV 53 Pittsburgh Independent;[40][41] original affiliate but did not sign on until 1969 as WPGH-TV, Las Vegas Show actually aired on WIIC-TV Ch. 11 (NBC)
WMET-TV 24 Baltimore Independent[42]
WTTG 5 Washington, D.C. Independent[43]
KPHO-TV 5 Phoenix, Arizona Independent[44]
KICU-TV 43 Visalia, California Independent [45]

References

  1. ^ "Broadcasting May 9, 1966 Page 60 and 61" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com.
  2. ^ "Broadcasting April 3, 1967 Page 80" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com.
  3. ^ "Once again" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com. Broadcasting Magazine November 13, 1967 Closed Circuit Section.
  4. ^ "Second looks" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com. Broadcasting Magazine November 20, 1967 Closed Circuit Section.
  5. ^ "Overmyer stalled" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com. Broadcasting Magazine November 27, 1967 Closed Circuit Section.
  6. ^ "Squeaky vote" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com. Broadcasting Magazine December 11, 1967 Closed Circuit Section.
  7. ^ "Broadcasting January 22, 1968 Page 37  Overmyer sale papers are signed" (PDF). Overmyer sale papers are signed.
  8. ^ "Bold Venture in TV Networking" (PDF). Overmyer sale papers are signed. Broadcasting Magazine July 18, 1966 p. 25.
  9. ^ "Screenings  Bob Foster   The Times  San Mateo, CA   December 5, 1966  p. 27". Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "CFL Signs Network TV Contract For 1967   Orlando Evening Star  Orlando, FL   November 23, 1966  p.  10". Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "The Fourth Steps Forth". Sports Illustrated. August 15, 1966. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  12. ^ "Plan Fourth TV Network   The Des Moines Register  Des Moines, IA   July 13, 1966  p. 7". Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "New Blood in New Network" (PDF). americanradiohistory.com. Broadcasting Magazine March 13, 1967 p. 23.
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  19. ^ "Late Night Las Vegas Show, Started May 1, Bites Dust". Associated Press (via The Morning Record). Meriden, CT. 1967-06-02. p. 3. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
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External links

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