Monday, June 01, 2015
This Week in Television History: June 2015 PART I
Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:
As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
June 1, 1980
CNN (Cable News Network), the world's first 24-hour television news network, makes its debut.
The network signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN's launch, TV news was dominated by three major networks--ABC, CBS and NBC--and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, today CNN is seen in more than 89 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally.
CNN was the brainchild of Robert "Ted" Turner, a colorful, outspoken businessman dubbed the "Mouth of the South." Turner was born on November 19, 1938, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a child moved with his family to Georgia, where his father ran a successful billboard advertising company. After his father committed suicide in 1963, Turner took over the business and expanded it. In 1970, he bought a failing Atlanta TV station that broadcast old movies and network reruns and within a few years Turner had transformed it into a "superstation," a concept he pioneered, in which the station was beamed by satellite into homes across the country. Turner later bought the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and aired their games on his network, TBS (Turner Broadcasting System). In 1977, Turner gained international fame when he sailed his yacht to victory in the prestigious America's Cup race.
In its first years of operation, CNN lost money and was ridiculed as the Chicken Noodle Network. However, Turner continued to invest in building up the network's news bureaus around the world and in 1983, he bought Satellite News Channel, owned in part by ABC, and thereby eliminated CNN's main competitor. CNN eventually came to be known for covering live events around the world as they happened, often beating the major networks to the punch. The network gained significant traction with its live coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the network's audience grew along with the increasing popularity of cable television during the 1990s.
In 1996, CNN merged with Time Warner, which merged with America Online four years later. Today, Ted Turner is an environmentalist and peace activist whose philanthropic efforts include a 1997 gift of $1 billion to the United Nations.
June 7, 1955
$64,000 Question premieres.
TV game show The $64,000 Question debuts on this day in 1955. The show was a spin-off of radio game show The $64 Question and spun off The $64,000 Challenge. The show started with contestants answering a question worth $64, with each subsequent question worth double the amount of the previous one. The show was an instant hit, knocking I Love Lucy out of first place in the ratings. Rumors of rigging plagued this and other big-money game shows in the mid-1950s causing The $64,000 Question and The $64,000 Challenge to be yanked off the air within three months of the quiz show scandal's eruption. Challenge went first, in September 1958, with Question – once the emperor of Tuesday night television – taking its Sunday night time slot, until it was killed in November, 1958.