Reviving CBS - The Leslie Moonves Way

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR232
Case Length : 18 Pages
Period : 1990-2006
Organization : CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox Broadcasting
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : US
Industry : Media and Broadcasting

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note

CBS was started as Columbia Broadcasters Inc. (Columbia), in 1928 by William S. Paley (Paley) when he acquired United Independent Broadcasters Inc., a network of 16 independent radio stations.

He was the first president of the company. By 1929, Columbia had 49 radio stations in 42 cities across the US, the highest at the time. In July 1931, CBS began television broadcasting on an experimental basis. In 1937, CBS shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In the year 1940, the first color television broadcast was made by CBS in New York.

By 1944, CBS had 144 radio stations. During the 1930s and 1940s, CBS was the most popular radio station across the US and its programs were often rated the best in their category. Before the mid-1940s, advertising agencies created programs, which were aired during the slot sold to them by the radio company.

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From 1945 onward, CBS started to produce its own radio shows such as My Friend Irma, Crime Photographer, Life with Luigi, etc. In 1946, CBS requested the FCC to permit it to broadcast television programs in color.

The FCC rejected its request as the signals could not be picked up by the existing black and white televisions. In 1948, CBS Television Network was formed with WCAU-TV Philadelphia as its first affiliate.

By 1949, the network had 30 such affiliates. In October 1950, the FCC declared CBS' color television technology (Field Sequential System) as the national standard. In 1951, CBS unveiled its 'eye' logo.

From the 1950s onward, CBS began investing heavily in television programming. By the late 1950s, CBS began dominating the rankings with around eight of its shows featuring in the top ten every year...

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