CBS is also sometimes referred to as the Eye Network
, in reference to the company's trademark symbol, in use since 1951. It has also been called the "Tiffany Network", alluding to the perceived high quality of its programming during the tenure of William S. Paley
It can also refer to some of CBS's first demonstrations of color television
, which were held in the former Tiffany and Company Building
in New York City in 1950.
The network has its origins in United Independent Broadcasters Inc., a radio network founded in Chicago by New York City talent agent Arthur Judson
in January 1927. In April of that year, the Columbia Phonograph Company, parent of the Columbia
record label, invested in the network, resulting in its rebranding as the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System
(CPBS). In early 1928, Judson and Columbia sold the network to Isaac and Leon Levy, two brothers who owned WCAU
, the network's Philadelphia affiliate, as well as their partner Jerome Louchheim. They installed Paley, an in-law of the Levys, as president of the network. With the Columbia record label out of ownership, Paley rebranded the network as the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Under Paley's guidance, CBS would first become one of the largest radio networks in the United States, and eventually one of the Big Three American broadcast television networks
. In 1974, CBS dropped its original full name and became known simply as CBS, Inc.
The Westinghouse Electric Corporation
acquired the network in 1995, renaming its corporate entity CBS Broadcasting, Inc.
two years later, and eventually adopted the name of the company it had acquired to become CBS Corporation
. In 2000, CBS came under the control of the original incarnation of Viacom
, which was formed as a spin-off of CBS in 1971. In 2005, Viacom split itself into two separate companies and re-established CBS Corporation through the spin-off
of its broadcast television, radio and select cable television
and non-broadcasting assets, with the CBS network at its core. CBS Corporation was controlled by Sumner Redstone
through National Amusements
, which also controlled the second incarnation of Viacom
until December 4, 2019, when the two separated companies agreed to re-merge
to become ViacomCBS. Following the sale, CBS and its other broadcasting and entertainment assets were reorganized into a new division, CBS Entertainment Group.
CBS operated the CBS Radio
network until 2017, when it sold its radio division to Entercom
Before this, CBS Radio mainly provided news and features content for its portfolio of owned-and-operated radio stations
in large and mid-sized markets, as well as its affiliated
radio stations in various other markets. While CBS Corporation shareholders own a 72% stake in Entercom,
CBS no longer owns or operates any radio stations directly; however, it still provides radio news broadcasts to its radio affiliates and to the new owners of its former radio stations, and licenses the rights to use CBS trademarks under a long-term contract. The television network has over 240 owned-and-operated and affiliated television stations throughout the United States, some also available in Canada via pay-television providers or in border areas
over-the-air. CBS was ranked 197th on the 2018 Fortune 500
of the largest American corporations by revenue.
The origins of CBS date back to January 27, 1927, with the creation of the United Independent Broadcasters network in Chicago by New York City talent agent Arthur Judson
. The fledgling network soon needed additional investors, and the Columbia Phonograph Company, manufacturers of Columbia Records
, rescued it in April 1927. Now the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System, the network went to air under its new name on May 18, 1927, with a presentation by the Howard L. Barlow Orchestra
from flagship station WOR
in Newark, and fifteen affiliates.
Operational costs were steep, particularly the payments to AT&T
for use of its landlines, and by the end of 1927, Columbia Phonograph wanted out.
In early 1928 Judson sold the network to brothers Isaac and Leon Levy, owners of the network's Philadelphia affiliate WCAU
, and their partner Jerome Louchheim. None of the three were interested in assuming day-to-day management of the network, so they installed wealthy 26-year-old William S. Paley, son of a Philadelphia cigar family and in-law of the Levys, as president. With the record company out of the picture, Paley quickly streamlined the corporate name to "Columbia Broadcasting System".
He believed in the power of radio advertising since his family's La Palina
cigars had doubled their sales after young William convinced his elders to advertise on radio.
By September 1928, Paley bought out the Louchheim share of CBS and became its majority owner with 51% of the business.
Turnaround: Paley's first year
During Louchheim's brief regime, Columbia paid $410,000 to Alfred H. Grebe
's Atlantic Broadcasting Corporation
(ABC) for the small Brooklyn station WABC
(no relation to the current WABC
), which would become the network's flagship station. WABC was quickly upgraded, and the signal relocated to 860 kHz.
The physical plant was also relocated to Steinway Hall
on West 57th Street in Manhattan
, where much of CBS's programming would originate. By the turn of 1929, the network had 47 affiliates.
Paley moved right away to put his network on a firmer financial footing. In the fall of 1928, he entered into talks with Adolph Zukor
of Paramount Pictures
, who planned to move into radio in response to RCA
's forays into motion pictures with the advent of talkies.
The deal came to fruition in September 1929; Paramount acquired 49% of CBS in return for a block of its stock worth $3.8 million at the time.
The agreement specified that Paramount would buy that same stock back for a flat $5 million by March 1, 1932, provided that CBS had earned $2 million during 1931 and 1932.
For a brief time, there was talk that the network might be renamed "Paramount Radio", but it only lasted a month as the 1929 stock market crash
sent all stock value tumbling. It galvanized Paley and his troops, who had no alternative but to "turn the network around and earn the $2,000,000 in two years... This is the atmosphere in which the CBS of today was born."
The near-bankrupt film studio sold its CBS shares back to the network in 1932.
In the first year of Paley's watch, CBS's gross earnings more than tripled, going from $1.4 million to $4.7 million.
Paley's management saw a twentyfold increase in gross income in his first decade.
Much of the increase was a result of Paley's effort to improve affiliate relations. There were two types of program at the time: sponsored and sustaining, i.e., unsponsored. Rival network NBC
paid affiliates for every sponsored show they carried, and charged them for every sustaining show they ran.
It was onerous for small and medium stations, and resulted in both unhappy affiliates and limited carriage of sustaining programs. Paley had a different idea, designed to get CBS programs emanating from as many radio sets as possible:
he would give
the sustaining programs away for free, provided the station would run every sponsored show, and accept CBS's check for doing so.
CBS soon had more affiliates than either NBC Red
or NBC Blue
Paley valued style and taste,
and in 1929, once he had his affiliates happy and his company's creditworthiness on the mend, he relocated his company to the sleek, new 485 Madison Avenue
, the "heart of the advertising community, right where Paley wanted his company to be",
and where it would stay until its move to its own Eero Saarinen
-designed headquarters, the CBS Building, in 1965. When his new landlords expressed skepticism about the network and its fly-by-night reputation, Paley overcame their qualms by inking a lease for $1.5 million.
CBS takes on the Red and the Blue (1930s)
Wholesome Kate Smith
, Paley's choice for La Palina Hour
, was unthreatening to home and hearth
Since NBC was the broadcast arm of the Radio Corporation of America
(RCA), its chief David Sarnoff
approached his decisions as both a broadcaster and as a hardware executive; NBC's affiliates all had the latest RCA broadcasting equipment, and were often the best-established stations, or were on "clear channel
" frequencies. Yet Sarnoff's affiliates were mistrustful of him. Paley had no such split loyalties: his and his affiliates' success rose and fell with the quality of CBS programming.
Paley had an innate sense of entertainment. David Halberstam
wrote that he had "a gift of the gods, an ear totally pure",
and knew "what was good and would sell, what was bad and would sell, and what was good and would not sell, and he never confused one with another."
As the 1930s loomed closer, Paley set about building the CBS talent stable. The network became the home to many popular musical and comedy stars, among them Jack Benny
("Your Canada Dry
Humorist"), Al Jolson
, George Burns
and Gracie Allen
, and Kate Smith
, whom Paley had personally selected for his family's La Palina Hour
as she was not the type of woman to provoke jealousy in American wives.
When Paley heard a phonograph record of Bing Crosby
, then a young unknown crooner, on a mid-ocean voyage, he rushed to the ship's radio room and cabled New York to sign Crosby immediately to a contract for a daily radio show.
While the CBS primetime lineup featured music, comedy and variety shows, the daytime schedule was a direct conduit into American homes – and into the hearts and minds of American women. For many, it was the bulk of their adult human contact during the course of the day. CBS salesmen recognized early on that this intimate connection could be a bonanza for advertisers of female-interest products.
Starting in 1930, astrologer Evangeline Adams
would consult the heavens on behalf of listeners who sent in their birthdays, a description of their problems, and a boxtop from sponsor Forhan's toothpaste.
The low-key murmuring of smooth-voiced Tony Wons, backed by a tender violin, "made him a soul mate to millions of women"
on behalf of the R. J. Reynolds
tobacco company, whose cellophane-wrapped Camel
cigarettes were "as fresh as the dew that dawn spills on a field of clover".
The most popular radio-friend of all was M. Sayle Taylor, the Voice of Experience
, though his name was never uttered on air.
Women mailed descriptions of the most intimate of relationship problems to the Voice in the tens of thousands per week; sponsors Musterole ointment and Haley's M–O laxative enjoyed sales increases of several hundred percent in just the first month of The Voice of Experience'
The CBS West Coast headquarters in Columbia Square
reflected its industry stature while hosting its top Hollywood talent.
Thanks to its daytime and primetime schedules, CBS prospered in the 1930s. In 1935, gross sales were $19.3 million, yielding a profit of $2.27 million.
By 1937, the network took in $28.7 million and had 114 affiliates,
almost all of which cleared 100% of network-fed programming, thus keeping ratings, and revenue, high. In 1938, CBS acquired the American Record Corporation
, parent of its one-time investor Columbia Records.
In 1938, NBC and CBS each opened broadcast studios on Sunset Boulevard
in Hollywood in order to attract the entertainment industry's top talent to their networks.
CBS launches an independent news division
The extraordinary potential of radio news showed itself in 1930, when CBS suddenly found itself with a live telephone connection to a prisoner called "the Deacon", who described, from the inside and in real time, a riot and conflagration at the Ohio Penitentiary
; for CBS, it was "a shocking journalistic coup".
Yet as late as 1934, there was still no regularly scheduled newscast on network radio; "most sponsors did not want network news programming; those that did were inclined to expect veto rights over it."
There had been a longstanding wariness between radio and the newspapers as well; the papers had rightly concluded that the upstart radio business would compete with them in both advertising dollars and news coverage. By 1933, the newspapers began fighting back, many no longer publishing radio schedules for readers' convenience, or allowing their own news to be read on the air for radio's profit.
Radio, in turn, pushed back when urban department stores, newspapers' largest advertisers and themselves owners of many radio stations, threatened to withhold their ads from print.
A short-lived truce in 1933 even saw the papers proposing that radio be forbidden from running news before 9:30 a.m., and then only after 9:00 p.m., and that no news story could air until it was 12 hours old.
It was in this climate that Paley set out to "enhance the prestige of CBS, to make it seem in the public mind the more advanced, dignified and socially aware network".
He did it by sustaining programming of the New York Philharmonic
, Norman Corwin
's drama, and an in-house news division to gather and present news, free of fickle suppliers such as the newspapers or wire services
In the fall of 1934, CBS launched an independent news division, shaped in its first years by Paley's vice-president, former New York Times
columnist Ed Klauber, and news director Paul White
. Since there was no blueprint or precedent for real-time news coverage, early efforts of the new division used the shortwave link-up CBS had been using for five years to bring live feeds of European events to its American air.
A key early hire was Edward R. Murrow
in 1935; his first corporate title was Director of Talks. He was mentored in microphone technique by Robert Trout
, the lone full-time member of the News Division, and quickly found himself in a growing rivalry with his boss White.
Murrow was glad to "leave the hothouse atmosphere of the New York office behind"
when he was dispatched to London as CBS's European Director in 1937, when the growing Hitler
menace underscored the need for a robust European Bureau. Halberstam described Murrow in London as "the right man in the right place in the right era".
Murrow began assembling the staff of broadcast journalists who would become known as the "Murrow Boys
", including such men as William L. Shirer
, Charles Collingwood
, Bill Downs
, and Eric Sevareid
. They were "in [Murrow's] own image, sartorially impeccable, literate, often liberal, and prima donnas all".
They covered history in the making, and sometimes made it themselves. On March 12, 1938, Hitler boldly annexed nearby Austria
, and Murrow and the Boys quickly assembled coverage with Shirer in London, Edgar Ansel Mowrer
in Paris, Pierre Huss
in Berlin, Frank Gervasi
in Rome, and Trout in New York.
This bore the now-ubiquitous News Round-Up
Murrow's nightly reports from the rooftops during the dark days of the London Blitz
galvanized American listeners. Even before Pearl Harbor
, the conflict became "the story of the survival of Western civilization, the most heroic of all possible wars and stories. He was indeed reporting on the survival of the English-speaking peoples."
With his "manly, tormented voice",
Murrow contained and mastered the panic and danger he felt, thereby communicating it all the more effectively to his audience.
Using his trademark self-reference "this reporter", he did not so much report news as interpret it, combining simplicity of expression with subtlety of nuance.
Murrow himself said he tried to "describe things in terms that make sense to the truck driver without insulting the intelligence of the professor".
When he returned home for a visit late in 1941, Paley threw an "extraordinarily elaborate reception"
for Murrow at the Waldorf-Astoria
. This reception also served as an announcement to the world that Paley's network was finally more than just a pipeline carrying other people's programming and had now become a cultural force in its own right.
When the war was over and Murrow returned for good, it was as "a superstar with prestige and freedom and respect within his profession and within his company".
He possessed enormous capital within that company, and as the unknown form of television news loomed large, he would spend it freely, first in radio news, then in television, first taking on Senator Joseph McCarthy
, then eventually – and unsuccessfully – William S. Paley himself.
Panic: The War of the Worlds radio broadcast
Orson Welles's "Hallowe'en joke" frightened the country and snared a sponsor.
On October 30, 1938, CBS gained a taste of infamy when The Mercury Theatre on the Air
broadcast a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells
' The War of the Worlds
, performed by Orson Welles
. Its unique format, a contemporary version of the story in the form of faux news broadcasts, told listeners that invaders from Mars were actually invading and devastating Grover's Mill, New Jersey
, despite three disclaimers during the broadcast stating that it was a work of fiction. The flood of publicity after the broadcast had two effects: an FCC ban on faux news bulletins within dramatic programming, and sponsorship for The Mercury Theatre on the Air
, becoming The Campbell Playhouse
to sell soup.
Welles, for his part, summarized the episode as "the Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying 'Boo!'"
CBS recruits Edmund A. Chester
Before the United States joined World War II
, in 1940, CBS recruited Edmund A. Chester
from his position as Bureau Chief for Latin America at the Associated Press
to serve as Director of Latin American Relations and Director of Short Wave Broadcasts for the CBS radio network. In this capacity, Chester coordinated the development of the Network of the Americas (La Cadena de las Americas) with the Department of State
, the Office for Inter-American Affairs
(chaired by Nelson Rockefeller
), and the Voice of America
as part of President Roosevelt's support for Pan-Americanism
during World War II.
This network provided vital news and cultural programming throughout South America and Central America during the crucial World War II era, and fostered diplomatic relations between the United States and the other nations. It featured such popular radio broadcasts as Viva América
which showcased leading musical talent from both North and South America, including John Serry Sr.
, as accompanied by the CBS Pan American Orchestra under the musical direction of Alfredo Antonini
The post-war era also marked the beginning of CBS's dominance in the field of radio.
Zenith of network radio (1940s)
As 1939 wound down, Paley announced that 1940 would be "the greatest year in the history of radio in the United States".
Indeed, the 1940s would turn out to be the apogee of network radio by every metric. Nearly 100% of the advertisers who made sponsorship deals in 1939 renewed their contracts for 1940; manufacturers of farm tractors made radios standard equipment on their machines;
wartime rationing of paper limited the size of newspapers and thus print advertisements, causing a shift toward radio sponsorship.
A 1942 act by Congress made advertising expenses a tax benefit,
which sent even automobile and tire manufacturers – who had no products to sell since they had been converted to war production – scurrying to sponsor symphony orchestras and serious drama on radio.
In 1940, only one-third of radio programs were sponsored, while two-thirds were sustaining; by the middle of the decade, the statistics had swapped.
CBS in the 1940s was vastly different from that of its early days; many of the old guard veterans had died, retired, or simply left the network.
No change was greater than that in Paley himself, who had become difficult to work for, and had "gradually shifted from leader to despot".
He spent much of his time seeking social connections and in cultural pursuits; his hope was that CBS "could somehow learn to run itself".
His brief to an interior designer remodeling his townhouse included a requirement for closets that would accommodate 300 suits and 100 shirts, and had special racks for 100 neckties.
Dr. Frank Stanton, second only to Paley in his impact on CBS, president 1946–1971.
As Paley grew more remote, he installed a series of buffer executives who sequentially assumed more and more power at CBS: first Ed Klauber, then Paul Kesten, and finally Frank Stanton
. Second only to Paley as the author of CBS's style and ambitions in its first half-century, Stanton was "a magnificent mandarin who functioned as company superintendent, spokesman, and image-maker".
He had come to the network in 1933 after sending copies of his Ph.D. thesis "A Critique Of Present Methods and a New Plan for Studying Radio Listening Behavior" to CBS top brass, and they responded with a job offer.
He scored an early hit with his study "Memory for Advertising Copy Presented Visually vs. Orally", which CBS salesmen used to great effect, bringing in new sponsors.
In 1946, Paley appointed Stanton as President of CBS and promoted himself to Chairman. Stanton's colorful but impeccable wardrobe – slate-blue pinstripe suit, ecru shirt, robin's egg blue necktie with splashes of saffron – made him, in the mind of one sardonic CBS vice president, "the greatest argument we have for color television".
Despite the influx of advertisers and their money – or perhaps because of them – the 1940s were not without bumps for the radio networks. The biggest challenge came in the form of the FCC's chain broadcasting investigation, often called the "monopoly probe".
Though it started in 1938, the investigation only gathered steam in 1940 under new-broom chairman James L. Fly
By the time the smoke had cleared in 1943, NBC had already spun off its Blue Network, which became the American Broadcasting Company
(ABC). CBS was also hit, though not as severely: Paley's 1928 affiliate contract, which had given CBS first claim on local stations' air during sponsored time – the network option
– came under attack as being restrictive to local programming.
The final compromise permitted the network option for three out of four hours during the daytime, but the new regulations had virtually no practical effect, since most all stations accepted the network feed, especially the sponsored hours that earned them money.
Fly's panel also forbade networks from owning artists' representation bureaus, so CBS sold its bureau to Music Corporation of America
, and it became Management Corporation of America.
Arthur Godfrey spoke directly to listeners, making him the foremost pitchman in his era.
On the air, the war affected almost every show. Variety shows wove patriotism through their comedy and music segments; dramas and soaps had characters join the service and go off to fight. Even before hostilities commenced in Europe, one of the most played songs on radio was Irving Berlin
's "God Bless America
", popularized by CBS personality Kate Smith.
Although an Office of Censorship sprang up within days of Pearl Harbor, censorship would be totally voluntary. A few shows submitted scripts for review, but most did not.
The guidelines that the Office did issue banned weather reports (including announcement of sports rainouts), as well as news about war production or troop, ship, or plane movements, and live man-on-the-street interviews. The ban on ad-libbing caused quizzes, game shows, and amateur hours to wither for the duration.
Surprising was the "granite permanence" of the shows at the top of the ratings.
The vaudevillians and musicians who were hugely popular after the war were the same stars who had been huge in the 1930s; Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Burns and Allen
, and Edgar Bergen
all had been on the radio almost as long as there had been network radio.
A notable exception to this was relative newcomer Arthur Godfrey
, who was still doing a local morning show in Washington, D.C. as late as 1942.
Godfrey, who had been a cemetery lot salesman and a cab driver, pioneered the style of talking directly to the listener as an individual, with a singular "you" rather than phrases like "Now, folks..." or "Yes, friends...".
His combined shows contributed as much as 12% of all CBS revenues; by 1948, he was making $500,000 a year.
In 1947, Paley, still the undisputed "head talent scout" of CBS,
led a much-publicized "talent raid" on NBC. One day, while Freeman Gosden
and Charles Correll
were hard at work at NBC writing their venerable Amos and Andy
series, Paley came to the door with an astonishing offer: "Whatever you are getting now I will give you twice as much."
Capturing NBC's cornerstone show was enough of a coup
, but Paley repeated in 1948 with longtime NBC stars Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy
, and Red Skelton
, as well as former CBS defectors Jack Benny, who was radio's top-rated comedian, and Burns and Allen. Paley achieved this rout with a legal agreement reminiscent of his 1928 contract that caused some NBC radio affiliates to jump ship and join CBS.
CBS would buy the stars' names as a property in exchange for a large lump sum and salary.
The plan relied on the vastly different tax rates between income and capital gains, so not only would the stars enjoy more than twice their income after taxes, but CBS would preclude any NBC counterattack because CBS owned the performers' names.
As a result of this, CBS finally beat NBC in the ratings in 1949,
but it was not just to one-up rival Sarnoff that Paley led his talent raid; he and all of radio had their eye on the coming force that threw a shadow over radio throughout the 1940s – television.
Primetime radio gives way to television (1950s)
A 1951 advertisement for the CBS Television Network introduced the Eye logo.
In the spring of 1940, CBS staff engineer Peter Goldmark
devised a system for color television that CBS management hoped would leapfrog the network over NBC and its existing black-and-white RCA system.
The CBS system "gave brilliant and stable colors", while NBC's was "crude and unstable but 'compatible'".
Ultimately, the FCC rejected the CBS system because it was incompatible with RCA's, along with the fact that CBS had moved to secure many ultra high frequency
(UHF), not very high frequency
(VHF), television licenses, leaving them flatfooted in the early television age.
In 1946, only 6,000 television sets were in operation, most in greater New York City where there were already three stations; by 1949, the number had increased to 3 million sets, and by 1951, had risen to 12 million.
There were 64 American cities with television stations, though most of them only had one.
Radio continued to be the backbone of the company in the early 1950s, but it was "a strange, twilight period" where some cities had often multiple television stations which siphoned the audience from radio, while other cities such as Denver and Portland had no television stations at all. In those areas, as well as rural areas and some entire states, network radio remained the sole nationally broadcast service.
NBC's venerable Fred Allen
saw his ratings plummet when he was pitted against upstart ABC's game show Stop The Music!
; within weeks, he was dropped by longtime sponsor Ford Motor Company
and was shortly gone from the scene.
Radio powerhouse Bob Hope
's ratings plunged from a 23.8 share in 1949 to 5.4 in 1953.
By 1952, "death seemed imminent for network radio" in its familiar form;
most tellingly, the big sponsors were eager for the switch.
Gradually, as the television network took shape, radio stars began to migrate to the new medium. Many programs ran on both media while making the transition. The radio soap opera The Guiding Light
moved to television in 1952, where it would run for another 57 years; Burns & Allen, back "home" from NBC, made the move in 1950; Lucille Ball
a year later; Our Miss Brooks
in 1952 (though it continued simultaneously on radio for its full television life). The high-rated Jack Benny Program
ended its radio run in 1955, and Edgar Bergen's Sunday night show went off the air a year later. In 1956, CBS announced that its radio operations had lost money, while the television network had made money.
When the soap opera Ma Perkins
went off the air on November 25, 1960, only eight series remained, all relatively minor. Primetime radio ended on September 30, 1962, when Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
aired for the final time.
CBS's radio programming after 1972
The retirement of Arthur Godfrey in April 1972 marked the end of long-form programming on CBS radio; programming thereafter consisted of hourly news summaries and news features, known in the 1970s as Dimension
, and commentaries, including the Spectrum
series that evolved into the "Point/Counterpoint" feature on the television network's 60 Minutes
and First Line Report
, a news and analysis feature delivered by CBS correspondents. The network also continued to offer traditional radio programming through its nightly CBS Radio Mystery Theater
during week. This was the lone holdout of dramatic programming, which ran from 1974 to 1982, though shorter runs were given to the General Mills Radio Adventure Theater
, The Zero Hour
and the Sears/Mutual Radio Theater
in the 1970s - early 1980s; otherwise, most new dramatic radio was carried on public and to some extent religious stations.
The CBS Radio Network continues to this day, offering hourly newscasts, including its centerpiece CBS World News Roundup
in the morning and evening, its weekend sister program CBS News Weekend Roundup
, the news-related feature segment The Osgood File
, What's in the News
, a one-minute summary of one story, and various other segments such as commentary from Seattle radio personality Dave Ross
, tip segments from various other sources, and technology coverage from CBS Interactive
On November 17, 2017, CBS Radio was sold to Entercom, becoming the last of the original Big Four radio networks to be owned by its founding company.
Although the CBS parent itself ceased to exist when it was acquired by Westinghouse Electric in 1995, CBS Radio continued to be run by CBS until its sale to Entercom. Prior to its acquisition, ABC Radio was sold to Citadel Broadcasting
in 2007 (and is now a part of Cumulus Media
), while Mutual (now defunct) and NBC Radio
were acquired by Westwood One
in the 1980s. Westwood One and CBS were under common ownership from 1993 to 2007; the former would be acquired outright by Dial Global
in October 2011.
Television years: expansion and growth
CBS's involvement in television dates back to the opening of experimental station W2XAB in New York City on July 21, 1931, using the mechanical television
system that had more or less been perfected in the late 1920s. Its initial broadcast featured New York mayor Jimmy Walker
, Kate Smith
, and George Gershwin
. The station boasted the first regular seven-day broadcasting schedule in American television, broadcasting 28 hours a week.
Announcer-director Bill Schudt was the station's only paid employee; all other talent was volunteer. W2XAB pioneered program development including small-scale dramatic acts, monologues, pantomime, and the use of projection slides to simulate sets. Engineer Bill Lodge devised the first synchronized sound wave for a television station in 1932, enabling W2XAB to broadcast picture and sound on a single shortwave channel instead of the two previously needed. On November 8, 1932, W2XAB broadcast the first television coverage of presidential election returns. The station suspended operations on February 20, 1933, as monochrome television transmission standards were in flux, and in the process of changing from a mechanical to an all-electronic system. W2XAB returned to the air with an all-electronic system in 1939 from a new studio complex in Grand Central Station
and a transmitter atop the Chrysler Building
, broadcasting on channel 2.
W2XAB transmitted the first color broadcast in the United States on August 28, 1940.
On June 24, 1941, W2XAB received a commercial construction permit
and program authorization as WCBW. The station went on the air at 2:30 p.m. on July 1, an hour after rival WNBT (channel 1, formerly W2XBS and now WNBC
), making it the second authorized, fully commercial television station in the United States. The FCC issued permits to CBS and NBC at the same time, and intended WNBT and WCBW to sign on simultaneously on July 1, so no one station could claim to be the "first".
During the period of the USA's participation in World War II, commercial television broadcasting was reduced dramatically. Towards the end of the war, however, it began to ramp up again, with an increased level of programming evident from 1944 to 1947 on the three New York television stations which operated in those years: the local stations of NBC, CBS and DuMont
. As RCA and DuMont raced to establish networks and offer upgraded programming, CBS lagged, advocating an industry-wide shift and restart to UHF for their incompatible (with black and white) color system. The FCC putting an indefinite "freeze"
on television licenses that lasted until 1952 did not help matters. Only in 1950, when NBC was dominant in television and black and white transmission was widespread, did CBS begin to buy or build their own stations (outside of New York City) in Los Angeles, Chicago, and other major cities. Up to that point, CBS programming was seen on such stations as KTTV
in Los Angeles, in which CBS – as a bit of insurance and to guarantee program clearance in that market – quickly purchased a 50% interest, partnering with the Los Angeles Times
. CBS then sold its interest in KTTV (now the West Coast flagship station of the Fox
network) and purchased outright Los Angeles pioneer station KTSL in 1950, renaming it KNXT (after CBS's existing Los Angeles radio property KNX), later to become KCBS-TV
. In 1953, CBS bought pioneer Chicago television station WBKB, which had been signed on by former investor Paramount Pictures (and would again become a sister company of CBS decades later) as a commercial station in 1946, and changed that station's call sign to WBBM-TV
, moving the CBS affiliation away from WGN-TV
WCBS-TV would ultimately be the only station (as of 2013) built and signed on by CBS. The rest of the stations would be acquired by CBS, either in an ownership stake or outright purchase. In television's early years, the network bought Washington, D.C. affiliate WOIC (now WUSA
) in a joint venture with The Washington Post
in 1950, only to sell its stake to the newspaper in 1954 due to tighter FCC ownership regulations. CBS would also temporarily return to relying on its own UHF technology by owning WXIX in Milwaukee (now CW
) and WHCT in Hartford (now Univision
). However, as UHF was not viable for broadcasting at the time (due to the fact that most television sets of the time were not equipped with UHF tuners), CBS decided to sell those stations off and affiliate with VHF stations WITI
and WTIC-TV (now WFSB
In Milwaukee alone, CBS has gone through several affiliation changes since 1953, when its original primary affiliate WCAN-TV
(now defunct) first signed on the air. Prior to WCAN's sign-on, selected CBS programming aired on WTMJ-TV
, an NBC affiliate since 1947. In February 1955, when WCAN went off the air for good, CBS moved its programming to WXIX, which it had purchased several months earlier. In April 1959, CBS decided to move its programming to WITI, the city's newer VHF station at the time. In turn, CBS shut down WXIX, sold its license to local investors, and returned to the air that July as an independent station. The first WITI-CBS union only lasted exactly two years, as the network moved its programming to WISN-TV
on April 2, 1961, with WITI taking the ABC affiliation; the two stations reversed the network swap in March 1977, with WITI returning to the CBS station lineup. CBS was later forced back onto UHF in Milwaukee due to an affiliation agreement with New World Communications
in 1994; it is now affiliated with WDJT-TV
in that market, which has the longest-lasting relationship with CBS of any Milwaukee station that carried the network's programming.
More long-term, CBS bought stations in Philadelphia (WCAU
, now owned by NBC) and St. Louis (KMOX-TV, now KMOV
), but would eventually sell these stations off as well. Before buying KMOX-TV, CBS had attempted to purchase and sign on the channel 11 license in St. Louis, now KPLR-TV
CBS did attempt to sign on a station in Pittsburgh after the freeze was lifted, as it was the sixth-largest market at the time, but had just one commercial VHF station in DuMont-owned WDTV, while the rest were either on UHF (the modern-day WPGH-TV
) or public television
). Although the FCC turned down CBS's request to buy the channel 9 license in nearby Steubenville, Ohio and move it to Pittsburgh (that station, initially CBS affiliate WSTV-TV, is now NBC affiliate WTOV-TV
), CBS did score a major coup when Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric
, co-founder of NBC, bought WDTV from struggling DuMont and opted to affiliate the now-recalled KDKA-TV
with CBS instead of NBC (like KDKA
radio) due to NBC extorting and coercing Westinghouse to trade KYW
radio and WPTZ (now KYW-TV
) for Cleveland stations WTAM
, WTAM-FM (now WMJI
), and WNBK (now WKYC
); the trade ended up being reversed by order of the FCC and the Department of Justice in 1965 after an eight-year investigation.
Had CBS not been able to affiliate with KDKA-TV, it would have affiliated with eventual NBC affiliate WIIC-TV (now WPXI
) once it signed on in 1957 instead.
This coup would eventually lead to a much stronger relationship between Westinghouse and CBS.
The mid-1940s "talent raid" on NBC had brought over established radio stars, who became stars of CBS television programs as well. One reluctant CBS star refused to bring her radio show My Favorite Husband
to television unless the network would recast the show with her real-life husband in the lead. I Love Lucy
debuted in October 1951, and was an immediate sensation, with 11 million of the 15 million total television sets watching (a 73% share
Paley and network president Frank Stanton had so little faith in the future of Lucille Ball's series that they granted her wish and allowed her husband Desi Arnaz
to take financial control of the comedy's production. This was the foundation of the Ball-Arnaz Desilu
empire, and is now considered a template for series production; it also served as the template for some television conventions that continue to exist including the use of multiple cameras to film scenes
, the use of a studio audience
, and the airing of past episodes
to other television outlets.
The phenomenal success of the primetime, big-money quiz show The $64,000 Question
, propelled its creator Louis G. Cowan, first to an executive position as CBS's vice-president of creative services, then to the presidency of the CBS television network itself. When quiz show scandals involving "rigged" questions surfaced in 1959, he was fired by CBS.
While its first airing in color would occur in 1951, CBS would adopt regular programming entirely in color by the 1966–1967 season
CBS dominated television, now at the forefront of American entertainment and information, as it once had radio.
In 1953, the CBS television network would make its first profit,
and would maintain dominance on television between 1955 and 1976.
By the late 1950s, the network often controlled seven or eight of the slots on the "top ten" ratings list with well-respected shows such as Route 66
Under James T. Aubrey
(1958–1965), CBS was able to balance prestigious television projects (befitting the "Tiffany Network" image), with more low culture, broad appeal programs. As such, the network had challenging fare like The Twilight Zone
, The Defenders
, and East Side/West Side
, as well as The Andy Griffith Show
, The Beverly Hillbillies
, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
, and Gilligan's Island
This success would continue for many years, with CBS being bumped from first place only due to the rise of ABC in the mid-1970s. Perhaps because of its status as the top-rated network, CBS felt freer to gamble with controversial properties like the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
and All in the Family
(and its many spinoffs) during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Programming: "Rural purge" and success in the 1970s and early-mid 1980s (1971–1986)
By the end of the 1960s, CBS was very successful in television ratings
, but many of its shows, including The Beverly Hillbillies
, Mayberry R.F.D.
, Petticoat Junction
, Hee Haw
, and Green Acres
, were appealing to older and more rural audiences, rather than to the young, urban, and more affluent audiences that advertisers sought to target. Fred Silverman
, who would later head ABC
and later NBC
, made the decision to cancel most of those otherwise hit shows by mid-1971 in what became colloquially referred to as the "rural purge
", with Green Acres
cast member Pat Buttram
remarking that the network canceled "anything with a tree in it".
CBS also cancelled the variety shows of Red Skelton
, Ed Sullivan
and Jackie Gleason
not only because of aging demographics but also reportedly due to the escalating expenses of these programs.
One of CBS's most popular shows during the period was M*A*S*H
, which ran for 11 seasons from 1972 to 1983, and was based on the hit Robert Altman film of the same name
. The 21
-hour series finale
, in its initial airing on February 28, 1983, had peak viewership of up to 125 million Americans (77% of all television viewership in the U.S. that night), which established it as the most watched television episode in the United States. It also held the distinction of having the largest single-night primetime viewership of any television program in U.S. history, until it was surpassed by the Super Bowl
, which has taken the record consistently since 2010 (through the annual championship game alternates between being broadcast by CBS and rival networks Fox and NBC).
Silverman also first developed his strategy of spinning new shows off
from established hit series while at CBS, with Rhoda
spun from The Mary Tyler Moore Show
and The Jeffersons
from All in the Family
, and Good Times
. After Silverman's departure, CBS dropped to second place behind ABC in the 1976–77 season, but still rated strongly, based on its earlier hits and some new ones, including One Day at a Time
, Lou Grant
, WKRP in Cincinnati
, The Dukes of Hazzard
, and Dallas
, which was the biggest hit of the early 1980s and holds the record for the most watched non-series finale television episode in the U.S. – the primetime telecast of the resolution episode
of the internationally prominent "Who Shot J.R.?
" cliffhanger on November 21, 1980.
By 1982, ABC had run out of steam and NBC was in dire straits, with many failed programming efforts greenlighted by Silverman during his tenure as network president. CBS nosed ahead once more thanks to the major success of Dallas
(and its spin-off Knots Landing
), as well as hits in Falcon Crest
, Magnum, P.I.
, Simon & Simon
, and 60 Minutes
. CBS also acquired the broadcast rights to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
in 1982, which it now broadcasts every March since. CBS bought Emmy-winning documentary producer Dennis B. Kane's production company and formed CBS/Kane Productions International. The network managed to pull out a few new hits over the next couple of years, including Kate & Allie
, Cagney & Lacey
, Scarecrow and Mrs. King
, and Murder, She Wrote
. However, this resurgence was short-lived, as CBS had become mired in debt as a result of a failed takeover effort by Ted Turner
, which CBS chairman Thomas Wyman successfully helped to fend off. The network sold its St. Louis owned-and-operated station KMOX-TV, and allowed the purchase of a large portion of its shares (under 25 percent) by Loew's Inc.
chairman Laurence Tisch
. Collaboration between Paley and Tisch led to the slow dismissal of Wyman, with Tisch taking over as chief operating officer and Paley returning as chairman.
Programming: Tiffany Network in distress (1986–2002)
By the end of the 1987–88 season
, CBS had fallen to third place behind both ABC and NBC for the first time. In 1984, The Cosby Show
and Miami Vice
debuted on NBC and immediately garnered high ratings, allowing NBC to rise back to first place by the 1985–86 season
with a slate that included several other hits such as Amen
, Family Ties
, The Golden Girls
, The Facts Of Life
, L.A. Law
, and 227
. ABC had also rebounded with hits such as Dynasty
, Who's the Boss?
, Full House
, Growing Pains
, The Wonder Years
, and Roseanne
Some of the groundwork had been laid as CBS fell in the ratings, with hits Simon & Simon
, Falcon Crest
, Murder, She Wrote
, Kate & Allie
, and Newhart
still on the schedule from the most recent resurgence, and to-be-hits Designing Women
, Murphy Brown
, Jake and the Fatman
, and newsmagazine 48 Hours
all debuting in the late 1980s. The network was also still getting decent ratings for 60 Minutes
, and Knots Landing
. During the early 1990s, the network would bolster its sports lineup by obtaining the broadcast television rights
to Major League Baseball
from ABC and NBC, and the Winter Olympics
from ABC, despite losing the National Basketball Association
to NBC after the 1989–90 NBA season.
Under network president Jeff Sagansky, the network was able to earn strong ratings from new shows Diagnosis: Murder
, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
, Walker, Texas Ranger
, Picket Fences
, Northern Exposure
, Evening Shade
and a resurgent Jake and the Fatman
. CBS was briefly able to reclaim first place during the 1992–93 season
. However, the network's programming slate skewed toward an older demographic than ABC, NBC, or even the fledgling Fox network. In 1993, the network made a breakthrough in establishing a successful late-night talk show
franchise to compete with NBC's The Tonight Show
when it signed David Letterman
away from NBC after the Late Night
host was passed over as Johnny Carson
's successor on Tonight
in favor of Jay Leno
Despite having success with the Late Show with David Letterman
, CBS as a whole suffered in 1993. The network lost the rights to two major sports leagues; it terminated its rights to the MLB after losing approximately $500 million over a four-year span, and the league reached a new contract with NBC and ABC. On December 17, 1993, in a move that surprised many media analysts and television viewers, Fox – then a fledgling network which had begun to accrue several popular programs in the Nielsen Top 20 during its seven years on air – outbid CBS for the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference
, stripping CBS of National Football League
telecasts for the first time since CBS began broadcasting games from the pre-merger
NFL in 1955. Fox bid $1.58 billion for the NFC television rights, significantly higher than CBS's reported offer of $290 million to retain the contract.
The acquisition of the NFC rights, which took effect with the 1994 NFL season and led to CBS being nicknamed "Can't Broadcast Sports",
resulted in Fox striking a series of affiliation deals
with longtime affiliates of each of the Big Three networks. CBS bore the brunt of the switches, losing its Phoenix
, Dallas-Fort Worth
, Wilmington, North Carolina
, Tampa-St. Petersburg
affiliates to Fox; eight of those stations were owned by New World Communications
Most of the stations with which CBS ended up affiliating to replace the previous affiliates it lost to Fox were former Fox affiliates and independent stations
, but had limited local news presence prior to joining CBS. The network attempted to fill its loss of the NFL by going after the rights to the National Hockey League
, which it again lost to Fox.
In early 1995, CBS would begin to rebuild its sports division by acquiring the rights to additional NASCAR
races. However, the network would be stripped of its contract with NASCAR in December 1999, and Fox and NBC acquired the rights in 2001.
The loss of the NFL, along with an ill-fated effort to court younger viewers, led to a drop in CBS's ratings. One of the affected shows was the Late Show with David Letterman
, which saw its viewership decline in large part due to the affiliation switches, at times even landing in third place in its timeslot behind ABC's Nightline
. As a result, NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
, which had previously been dominated by the Late Show
, became the top-rated late-night talk show.
However, CBS was able to produce some hits during the mid-1990s such as The Nanny
(which moved to the network from NBC), Chicago Hope
, Touched by an Angel
, and Everybody Loves Raymond
In 1997, CBS regained the NFL through its acquisition of the broadcast television rights to the American Football Conference
, effective with the 1998 season
The contract was struck shortly before the AFC's emergence as the dominant NFL conference over the NFC, spurred in part by the turnaround of the New England Patriots
during the 2000s. With the help of the AFC package, CBS surpassed NBC for first place in the 1998–99 season
, although it was beaten by ABC the following year. The network gained additional hits in the late 1990s and early 2000s with series such as The King of Queens
, Nash Bridges
, Judging Amy
, and Yes, Dear
Programming: Return to first place and rivalry with Fox (2002–present)
Another turning point for CBS came in the summer of 2000, when it debuted the summer reality shows Survivor
and Big Brother
, which became surprise summer hits for the network. In January 2001, CBS debuted the second season
after its broadcast of Super Bowl XXXV
, and scheduled it on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time; it also moved the investigative crime drama CSI
(which had debuted that fall in the Friday 9:00 p.m. time slot) to follow Survivor
at 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The pairing of the two shows was both able to chip away at and eventually beat NBC's Thursday night lineup.
During the 2000s, CBS found additional successes with a slew of police procedurals, several of which were produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
. These included Cold Case
, Without a Trace
, Criminal Minds
, and The Mentalist
, along with CSI
spinoffs CSI: Miami
and CSI: NY
. The network also featured several prominent sitcoms like Still Standing
, Two and a Half Men
, How I Met Your Mother
, The New Adventures of Old Christine
, Rules of Engagement
, and The Big Bang Theory
, as well as the reality show The Amazing Race
. The network's programming slate, buoyed largely by the success of CSI
, briefly led it to retake first place in the ratings from NBC during the 2002–03 season
. The 2000s also saw CBS finally make ratings headway on Friday nights, a perennial weak spot for the network, with a focus toward drama series such as Ghost Whisperer
and the relatively short-lived but acclaimed Joan of Arcadia
CBS became the most watched American broadcast television network once again in the 2005–06 season
. The next year, Fox overtook CBS for first place, becoming the first non-Big Three
network to earn the title as the most watched network overall in the United States. Fox's first-place finish that season was primarily due to its reliance on American Idol
(the longest reigning number-one primetime U.S. television program from 2004 to 2011) and the effects of the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike
. CBS retook its place as the top-rated network in the 2008–09 season
, where it has remained every season since.
Fox and CBS, both having ranked as the highest rated of the major broadcast networks during the 2000s, tend to nearly equal one another in the 18–34, 18–49, and 25–54 demographics. NCIS
, which has been the flagship of CBS's Tuesday lineup for much of its run, became the network's highest-rated drama during the 2007–08 season.
The 2010s saw additional hits for the network, including drama series The Good Wife
; police procedurals Person of Interest
, Blue Bloods
, Hawaii Five-0
, and NCIS
spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles
; reality series Undercover Boss
; and sitcoms 2 Broke Girls
and Mike & Molly
. The Big Bang Theory
, one of several sitcoms from veteran writer/producer Chuck Lorre
, started off with modest ratings, but saw its viewership skyrocket, earning ratings of up to 17 million viewers per episode. It became the top-rated network sitcom in the U.S. by the 2010–11 season
, as well as the second most watched U.S. television program by the 2013–14 season
, when the series became the anchor of the network's Thursday lineup. Meanwhile, Two and a Half Men
saw its ratings decline to respectable levels for its final four seasons following the 2011 firing of original star Charlie Sheen
and the addition of Ashton Kutcher
as its primary lead.
Until 2012, CBS ranked in second place among adults 18–49, but after the ratings declines Fox experienced during the 2012–13 season
, CBS was able to take the top spot in the demographic, as well as in total viewership (for the fifth year in a row) by the start of 2013. At the end of the 2012–13 season, the tenth season of NCIS
took the top spot among the season's most watched network programs, giving CBS its first top-rated show since the 2002–03 season, when CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
led Nielsen's seasonal primetime network ratings.
On September 29, 2016, National Amusements, the owner of both CBS's parent company CBS Corporation and its sister company Viacom
, sent a letter to both companies, encouraging them to merge back into one company.
The deal was called off on December 12.
However, on January 12, 2018, it was reported that both CBS and Viacom were re-entering talks to merge.
On August 13, 2019, CEO Shari Redstone
announced that Viacom and CBS agreed to a merger which would reunite the two media giants after 14 years.
CBS television news operations
Upon becoming commercial station WCBW in 1941, the pioneer CBS television station in New York City broadcast two daily news programs, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. weekdays, anchored by Richard Hubbell. Most of the newscasts featured Hubbell reading a script with only occasional cutaways to a map or still photograph. When Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, WCBW, usually off-the-air on Sundays to give the engineers a day off, took to the air at 8:45 p.m. that evening with an extensive special report. The national emergency even broke down the unspoken wall between CBS radio and television. WCBW executives convinced radio announcers and experts such as George Fielding Elliot and Linton Wells to come down to the station's Grand Central Station studios during the evening and to give information and commentary on the attack. Although WCBW's special report that night lasted less than 90 minutes, that special broadcast pushed the limits of live television in 1941, and opened up new possibilities for future broadcasts. As CBS wrote in a special report to the FCC, the unscheduled live news broadcast on December 7 was "unquestionably the most stimulating challenge and marked the greatest advance of any single problem faced up to that time". Additional newscasts were scheduled in the early days of the war.
In May 1942, WCBW, like almost all television stations, sharply cut back its live program schedule and canceled its newscasts, as the station temporarily suspended studio operations, resorting exclusively to the occasional broadcast of films. This was primarily because much of the staff had either joined the service or had been redeployed to war-related technical research, as well as because it was necessary to prolong the life of the cameras, which were now impossible to repair due to the lack of parts available during wartime. In May 1944, as the war began to turn in favor of the Allies, WCBW reopened its studios and resumed production of its newscasts, which were briefly anchored by Ned Calmer
and then by Everett Holles.
After the war, WCBW, which changed its call letters to WCBS-TV
in 1946, introduced expanded news programs on its schedule. These were first anchored by Milo Boulton and later by Douglas Edwards
. On May 3, 1948, Edwards began anchoring CBS Television News
, a regular 15-minute nightly newscast on the rudimentary CBS television network, including WCBS-TV. Airing every weeknight at 7:30 p.m., it was the first regularly scheduled, network television news program featuring an anchor; the nightly Lowell Thomas
NBC radio network newscast was simulcast on television locally on NBC's WNBT (now WNBC
) for a time in the early 1940s, and Hubbell, Calmer, Holles and Boulton on WCBW in the early and mid-1940s, but these were local television broadcasts seen only in the New York City area. In contrast, the NBC Television Newsreel
, the NBC television network's offering at the time which premiered in February 1948, was simply film footage with voice narration to provide illustration of the stories. In 1949, CBS offered the first live television coverage of the proceedings of the United Nations General Assembly
. This journalistic tour-de-force was under the direction of Edmund A. Chester
, who was appointed to the post of Director for News, Special Events, and Sports at CBS Television in 1948.
In 1950, the nightly newscast was retitled Douglas Edwards with the News
, and became the first news program to be broadcast on both coasts the following year, thanks to a new coaxial cable
connection. As such, Edwards used the greeting "Good evening everyone, coast to coast". The broadcast was renamed the CBS Evening News
when Walter Cronkite
replaced Edwards in 1962.
Edwards remained with CBS News as anchor/reporter for various daytime television and radio news broadcasts until his retirement on April 1, 1988.
Color technology (1953–1967)
Although CBS Television was the first with a working color television system, the network lost out to RCA in 1953, in part because its color system was incompatible with existing black-and-white sets. Although RCA – then the parent company of NBC – made its color system available to CBS, the network was not interested in boosting RCA's profits, and televised only a few specials in color for the rest of the decade.
Beginning in 1959, The Wizard of Oz
became an annual tradition on color television. It had been the success of NBC's 1955 telecast of the musical Peter Pan
, which became the most watched television special of its time, that inspired CBS to telecast The Wizard of Oz
, and Aladdin
From 1960 to 1965, the CBS television network limited its color broadcasts to only a few special presentations such as The Wizard of Oz
, and only if the sponsor would pay for it. In the early 1960s, Red Skelton was the first CBS host to telecast his weekly programs in color using a converted movie studio. He tried unsuccessfully to persuade the network to use his facility for other programs, and was forced to sell it. Rival NBC was pushing for the use of color at the time. Even ABC had several color programs beginning in the fall of 1962, although those were limited due to financial and technical issues the network was going through. One particularly notable television special aired by CBS during this era was the Charles Collingwood-hosted tour of the White House with First Lady Jackie Kennedy
, which was broadcast in black and white.
Beginning in 1963, The Lucy Show
began filming in color at the insistence of its star and producer Lucille Ball, who realized that color episodes would command more money when they were eventually sold into syndication. Even this show, however, was broadcast in black and white through the end of the 1964–65 season
. This would all change by the mid-1960s, when market pressure forced CBS Television to begin adding color programs to its regular schedule for the 1965–66 season
and complete the transition to the format during the 1966–67 season
. By the fall of 1967, nearly all of CBS's television programs were in color, as was the case with those aired by NBC and ABC. A notable exception was The Twentieth Century
, which consisted mostly of newsreel archival footage, but even this program used at least some color footage by the late 1960s. CBS, which had reluctantly purchased a handful of the early RCA color cameras from its archrival in the 1950s, began deploying the new color studio cameras from Philips
by 1965, which bore the Norelco
brand name at that time.
In 1965, CBS telecast a new color version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
. This version, starring Lesley Ann Warren
and Stuart Damon
in the roles formerly played by Julie Andrews
and Jon Cypher
, was shot on videotape (at its Television City
complex in Los Angeles) rather than being telecast live, and would become an annual tradition on the network for the next nine years.
In 1967, NBC outbid CBS for the rights to the annual telecast of The Wizard of Oz, and the film moved to NBC beginning the following year. However, in 1976, CBS reacquired the television rights to the film, with the network continuing to broadcast it through the end of 1997. CBS aired The Wizard of Oz twice in 1991, in March and again the night before Thanksgiving. Thereafter, it was broadcast the night before Thanksgiving.
By the end of the 1960s, CBS was broadcasting virtually its entire programming lineup in color.
Prior to the 1960s, CBS's acquisitions, such as American Record Corporation and Hytron, had mostly related to its broadcasting business. During the 1950s and early 1960s, CBS did operate a CBS-Columbia division, which manufactured phonographs, radios, and television sets; however, the company had problems with product quality, and CBS never achieved much success in that field. In 1955, CBS purchased animation studio Terrytoons
from its founder Paul Terry
, not only acquiring Terry's 25-year backlog of cartoons for the network, but continuing the studio's ongoing contract to provide theatrical cartoons for 20th Century Fox
well into the 1960s.
During the 1960s, CBS began an effort to diversify its portfolio and looked for suitable investments. Their acquisitions eventually led to a restructuring of the corporation into various operating groups and divisions. In 1965, CBS acquired electric guitar maker Fender
from Leo Fender
, who agreed to sell his company due to health problems. The purchase also included that of Rhodes electric pianos
, which had already been acquired by Fender. The quality of the products manufactured by these acquired companies fell dramatically, resulting in the terms "pre-CBS" to refer to products of higher quality and "CBS" for mass-produced products of lower quality.
In other diversification attempts, CBS would buy and later sell a variety of other properties. This included sports teams, especially the New York Yankees
baseball club; book and magazine publishers, such as Fawcett Publications
, which included Woman's Day
, and Holt, Rinehart and Winston
); map-makers and toy manufacturers like Gabriel Toys
, Child Guidance, Wonder Products, Gym Dandy, and Ideal; X-Acto
and distributors of educational films and film strips
, namely Bailey Films Inc. and Film Associates of California. CBS eventually merged the two film companies into a single company, BFA Educational Media. CBS also developed an early home video
system called EVR (Electronic Video Recording), but was never able to launch it successfully.
William Paley attempted to find the one person who could follow in his footsteps. However, numerous successors-in-waiting came and went. By the mid-1980s, investor Laurence Tisch had begun to acquire substantial holdings in CBS. Eventually, he gained Paley's confidence and, with his support, took control of CBS in 1986. Tisch's primary interest was turning profits. When CBS faltered, underperforming units were given the ax. Among the first properties to be jettisoned was the Columbia Records group, which had been part of the company since 1938. In 1986, Tisch also shut down the CBS Technology Center
in Stamford, Connecticut
, which had started in New York City in the 1930s as CBS Laboratories and had evolved to become the company's technology research and development unit.
Columbia Records was acquired by CBS in 1938. In 1962, CBS launched CBS Records International
to market Columbia recordings outside of North America, where the Columbia name was controlled by other entities. In 1966, CBS Records was made a separate subsidiary of the Columbia Broadcasting System.
CBS sold the CBS Records Group to Sony
on November 17, 1987, initiating a Japanese buying spree of American companies, including MCA
, Pebble Beach Co.
, Rockefeller Center
, and even the Empire State Building
, which continued into the 1990s. The record company was rechristened as Sony Music Entertainment
in 1991, as Sony had a short-term license on the CBS name.
Sony purchased its rights to the Columbia Records name outside the United States, Canada, Spain and Japan from EMI
. Sony now uses Columbia Records as a label name in all countries except Japan, where Sony Records remains their flagship label. Sony acquired the Spanish rights when Sony Music merged with Bertelsmann
in 2004 as Sony BMG
; Sony bought out BMG's share in 2008. CBS Corporation formed a new record label named CBS Records
In 1967, CBS entered the publishing business by acquiring Holt, Rinehart & Winston
, a publisher of trade books and textbooks, as well as the magazine Field & Stream
. The following year, CBS acquired the medical publishing company Saunders
and merged it with Holt, Rinehart & Winston. In 1971, CBS acquired Bond/Parkhurst, the publisher of Road & Track
and Cycle World
. CBS greatly expanded its magazine business by purchasing Fawcett Publications in 1974, bringing in such magazines as Woman's Day
. In 1982, CBS acquired British publisher Cassell
from Macmillan Inc.
In 1984, it acquired the majority of the publications owned by Ziff Davis
CBS Musical Instruments division
Forming the CBS Musical Instruments division, the company also acquired Fender (1965–1983), Electro-Music Inc. (Leslie speakers
) (1965–1980), Rogers Drums
pianos (1972–1985), Gemeinhardt
flutes, Lyon & Healy
harps (in the late 1970s), Rodgers
(institutional) organs, and Gulbransen
home organs. The company's last musical instrument manufacturer purchase was its 1981 acquisition of the assets of then-bankrupt ARP Instruments
, a developer of electronic synthesizers.
It is widely held that the quality of Fender guitars and amplifiers declined significantly between 1965 and 1985, outraging Fender fans. Because of this, CBS Musical Instruments division executives executed a leveraged buyout in 1985, and created Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. At the same time, CBS divested itself of Rodgers, along with Steinway and Gemeinhardt, all of which were purchased by holding company Steinway Musical Properties. The other musical instrument manufacturing properties were also liquidated.
CBS made a brief, unsuccessful move into film production in the late 1960s, when they created Cinema Center Films
. The studio released such films as the 1969 Steve McQueen
drama The Reivers
and the 1970 Albert Finney
. This profitless unit was shut down in 1972; the distribution rights to the Cinema Center library today rest with Paramount Pictures for home video (via CBS Home Entertainment
) and theatrical release, and with CBS Television Distribution for television syndication; most other ancillary rights remain with CBS.
In 2007, CBS Corporation announced its intent to re-enter the feature film business, slowly launching CBS Films and hiring key executives in the spring of 2008 to start up the new venture. The CBS Films name had been used previously in 1953, when it was briefly used as CBS's distributor of off-network and first-run syndicated programming to local television stations in the United States and internationally.
CBS entered into the home video market when it partnered with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
to form MGM/CBS Home Video
in 1978. The joint venture was dissolved in 1982, after MGM purchased United Artists
. CBS later partnered with 20th Century Fox to form CBS/Fox Video
. CBS's duty was to release some of the film titles released by TriStar Pictures under the CBS/Fox Video label.
CBS Toys Division
The CBS Toys Division of CBS Inc. purchased Child Guidance, Creative Playthings of Framingham, Massachusetts and Hagerstown, Maryland; Gilbert; Gym-Dandy of Bossier City, Louisiana; Hubley; Ideal; Kohner; and Wonder Products of Collierville, Tennessee.
CBS entered the video game
market briefly through its acquisition of Gabriel Toys (renamed CBS Toys). It published several arcade adaptations and original titles under the name CBS Electronics for the Atari 2600
and other consoles and computers; it also produced one of the first karaoke players. CBS Electronics also distributed all Coleco
-related video game products in Canada, including the ColecoVision
. CBS later sold Gabriel Toys to View-Master
, which eventually ended up as part of Mattel
By the early 1990s, profits had fallen as a result of competition from cable television and video rentals, as well as the high cost of programming. About 20 former CBS affiliates switched to the rapidly rising Fox network in the mid-1990s, the first of which were reportedly KDFX
in Palm Springs, California
, and KECY
in Yuma, Arizona
, which made the switch in August 1994. Many other television markets lost their CBS affiliate for a while. The network's ratings were acceptable, but it struggled with an image of stodginess. Laurence Tisch lost interest and sought a new buyer.
Westinghouse Electric Corporation
In response, CBS began affiliating with UHF stations in Detroit and Cleveland, namely former Fox affiliate WOIO
and low-rated ethnic independent WGPR-TV (now WWJ-TV
), which CBS eventually purchased. This was, however, only after CBS failed to woo WXYZ-TV
, the respective longtime ABC affiliates in those markets (the latter of which had been a CBS affiliate from 1947 to 1955), to replace departing affiliates WJBK
. The E. W. Scripps Company
actually used this situation as leverage to sign a group-wide affiliation deal with ABC that kept the network on WXYZ and WEWS.
Included in the Scripps deal was Baltimore NBC affiliate WMAR-TV
, which had been affiliated with CBS from 1948 to 1981. With this agreement, WMAR-TV was able to displace longtime ABC affiliate and Westinghouse-owned WJZ-TV
, which had long been the Baltimore market's dominant station, while WMAR-TV had been in a distant third and had even nearly lost its broadcast license in 1991.
WMAR-TV's loss of popularity did not sit well with Westinghouse. Even before the New World deal, the company had been seeking a group-wide affiliation deal of its own, but it accelerated the process after the Scripps–ABC agreement.
In July 1994, Westinghouse signed a long-term deal to affiliate all five of its television stations, including WJZ-TV, with CBS. KPIX
in San Francisco and KDKA-TV
in Pittsburgh were already longtime affiliates of the network, while KYW-TV
in Philadelphia and WBZ-TV
in Boston were longtime affiliates of NBC. The network decided to sell off its Philadelphia owned-and-operated station WCAU
to NBC, even though it was rated much higher locally than KYW-TV at the time. While WJZ-TV and WBZ-TV switched to CBS in January 1995, the KYW-TV swap was delayed after CBS discovered that an outright sale of channel 10 would have resulted in massive taxes on the proceeds from the deal.
To solve this, CBS, NBC, and Westinghouse, known also as Group W, entered into a complex ownership/affiliation deal in November 1994 (which was scheduled to take effect in the fall of 1995). NBC traded KCNC-TV
in Denver and KUTV
in Salt Lake City (which had been acquired by NBC earlier that year) to CBS in return for WCAU, which, for legal reasons, was considered an even trade. CBS then traded controlling interest in KCNC and KUTV to Group W in return for a minority stake in KYW-TV. As compensation for the loss of stations, NBC and CBS traded transmitter facilities in Miami, with the NBC-owned WTVJ
moving to channel 6 and the CBS-owned WCIX moving to channel 4 as WFOR-TV
On August 1, 1995, Westinghouse announced it was acquiring CBS outright for $5.4 billion;
the deal was completed on November 24.
Under the name Group W, it had been one of the major broadcasting group owners of commercial radio and television stations since 1920, and was seeking to transition from a station operator to a major media company with its purchase of CBS. Except for KUTV, which CBS sold to Four Points Media Group
in 2007 and is now owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group
, all of the stations involved in the initial Westinghouse deal as well as WWJ-TV remain owned-and-operated stations of the network to this day.
Westinghouse's acquisition of CBS turned the combined company's all-news radio
stations in New York City (WCBS
) and Los Angeles (KNX
) from bitter rivals to sister stations. While KFWB switched from all-news to news/talk in 2009, WINS and WCBS remain all-news stations. WINS, which had pioneered the all-news format in 1965, generally restricts its news coverage to the five core New York City boroughs
, while WCBS, with its much more powerful signal, covers the surrounding tri-state metropolitan area. In Chicago, Westinghouse's WMAQ
began to feature long-form stories and discussions about the news. It often focused on business news so as to differentiate itself from WBBM
. This lasted until 2000, when an FCC ownership situation resulted in CBS Radio's decision to move its all-sports network WSCR
to WMAQ's signal and to sell off the former WSCR facility.
Following the Infinity purchase, operation and sales responsibilities for the CBS Radio Network were handed to Infinity, which turned management over to Westwood One, a major radio program syndicator that Infinity managed. Westwood One had previously purchased the Mutual Broadcasting System
, NBC's radio networks, and the rights to use the "NBC Radio Networks" name. For a time, CBS Radio, NBC Radio Networks, and CNN's radio news services were all under the Westwood One umbrella. As of 2008, Westwood One continues to distribute CBS radio programming, but as a self-managed company that put itself up for sale and found a buyer for a significant amount of its stock. The same year the company purchased Infinity, Westinghouse changed its name to CBS Corporation, and its corporate headquarters were moved from Pittsburgh to New York City. To underline the change in emphasis, all non-entertainment assets were put up for sale. Another 90 radio stations were added to Infinity's portfolio in 1998, with the acquisition of American Radio Systems
Corporation for $2.6 billion.
By the 1990s, CBS had become a broadcasting giant. However, in 1999, entertainment conglomerate Viacom
, which had been created by CBS in 1952 as CBS Films, Inc.
to syndicate old CBS series and was eventually spun off under the Viacom name in 1971, announced it was taking over its former parent in a deal valued at $37 billion. The takeover was completed on May 4, 2000, upon which Viacom became the second largest entertainment company in the world. Incidentally, Viacom had purchased Paramount Pictures, which had once invested in CBS, in 1994.
Having assembled all the elements of a communications empire, Viacom found that the promised synergy was not there. As such, in 2005, Viacom announced it would split the company into two separately operated but commonly controlled entities,
with CBS becoming the center of CBS Corporation. As the legal successor to the old Viacom, the company's properties included the broadcasting entities (CBS and UPN
, the latter of which later merged with Time Warner
to form the CW; the Viacom Television Stations Group, which became CBS Television Stations
; and CBS Radio); Paramount Television
's production operations (now known as CBS Television Studios
); Viacom Outdoor advertising (renamed CBS Outdoor
); Showtime Networks
; Simon & Schuster
; and Paramount Parks
, which the company sold in May 2006. The other company, which retained the Viacom name, kept Paramount Pictures, assorted MTV Networks
, BET Networks
, and Famous Music
, the last of which was sold to Sony/ATV Music Publishing
in May 2007.
As a result of the Viacom/CBS corporate split and other recent acquisitions, CBS (under the moniker CBS Studios) owns a massive film and television library spanning nine decades. These include acquired material from Viacom and CBS in-house productions and network programs, as well as programs produced by Paramount and others originally aired on competing networks such as ABC and NBC. Series and other material in this library include I Love Lucy
, The Honeymooners
, The Twilight Zone
, Hawaii Five-O
(both the original and current remake), Gunsmoke
, The Fugitive
, The Love Boat
, Little House on the Prairie
(U.S. television rights only), Cheers
, Family Ties
, Happy Days
and its spin-offs, The Brady Bunch
, Star Trek
, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
(distribution rights on behalf of copyright holder Lucasfilm
), Evening Shade
, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
and its spin-offs, the CBS theatrical library (including My Fair Lady
), and the entire Terrytoons
library from 1930 forward.
ViacomCBS and CBS Studios
ViacomCBS is owned by National Amusements, the Sumner Redstone-owned company that controlled the original Viacom prior to the split. Paramount Home Entertainment
continues to handle DVD and Blu-ray distribution for the CBS library.
In August 2019, Viacom and CBS reunited to invest in more films and television and to become a bigger player in the growing business of streaming video. The deal was completed on December 4, 2019. ViacomCBS has a combined library with over 140,000 TV episodes and 3,600 film titles, including the Star Trek
and Mission: Impossible
As of 2013, CBS provides 871⁄2 hours of regularly scheduled network programming each week. The network provides 22 hours of primetime programming to affiliated stations Monday through Saturday from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. and Sunday from 7:00–11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time (7:00–10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6:00–10:00 p.m. on Sunday in Central/Mountain time).
programming is also provided most weekend afternoons. Due to the unpredictable length of sporting events, CBS occasionally delays scheduled primetime programs to allow the programs to air in their entirety, a practice most commonly seen with Sunday Night Football
. In addition to rights to sports events from major sports organizations such as the NFL
, and NCAA
, CBS broadcasts the CBS Sports Spectacular
, a sports anthology series
which fills certain weekend afternoon time slots prior to (or in some cases, in lieu of) a major sporting event.
CBS's daytime schedule is the longest among the major networks at 41
hours. It is the home of the long-running game show The Price Is Right
, which began production in 1972 and is the longest continuously running daytime game show on network television. After being hosted by Bob Barker
for 35 years, the show has been hosted since 2007 by actor and comedian Drew Carey
. The network is also home to the current incarnation of Let's Make a Deal
, hosted by singer and comedian Wayne Brady
CBS Daytime airs two daytime soap operas each weekday: the hour-long series The Young and the Restless
, which debuted in 1973, and the half-hour series The Bold and the Beautiful
, which debuted in 1987. CBS has long aired the most soap operas out of the Big Three
networks, carrying 31
hours of soaps on its daytime lineup from 1982 to 2009, and still retains the longest daily schedule. Other than Guiding Light
, notable daytime soap operas that once aired on CBS include As the World Turns
, Love of Life
, Search for Tomorrow
, The Secret Storm
, The Edge of Night
, and Capitol
CBS broadcast the live-action series Captain Kangaroo
on weekday mornings from 1955 to 1982, and on Saturdays until 1984. From 1971 to 1986, CBS News produced a series of one-minute segments titled In the News
, which aired between other Saturday morning programs. Otherwise, CBS's children's programming has mostly focused on animated series such as reruns of Mighty Mouse
, Looney Tunes
, and Tom and Jerry
cartoons, as well as Scooby-Doo
, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies
, Garfield and Friends
, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
. In 1997, CBS premiered Wheel 2000
, a children's version of the syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune
which aired simultaneously on the Game Show Network
After its agreement with Nelvana ended, the network then entered into a deal with Nickelodeon
to air programming from its Nick Jr.
block beginning in September 2000, under the banner Nick Jr. on CBS
By the time of the deal, Nickelodeon and CBS were corporate sisters through the latter's then parent company Viacom as a result of its 2000 merger with CBS Corporation. From 2002 to 2005, live-action and animated Nickelodeon series aimed at older children also aired as part of the block under the name Nick on CBS
Following the Viacom-CBS split, the network decided to discontinue the Nickelodeon content deal. In March 2006, CBS entered into a three-year agreement with DIC Entertainment
, which was acquired later that year by the Cookie Jar Group
, to program the Saturday morning time slot as part of a deal that included distribution of select tape-delayed Formula One
The KOL Secret Slumber Party on CBS
replaced Nick Jr. on CBS
that September, with the inaugural lineup featuring two new first-run live-action programs, one animated series that originally aired in syndication in 2005, and three shows produced prior to 2006. In mid-2007, KOL, the children's service of AOL
, withdrew sponsorship from CBS's Saturday morning block, which was subsequently renamed KEWLopolis. Complementing CBS's 2007 lineup were Care Bears
, Strawberry Shortcake
, and Sushi Pack
. On February 24, 2009, it was announced that CBS would renew its contract with Cookie Jar for another three seasons through 2012.
On September 19, 2009, KEWLopolis was renamed Cookie Jar TV
On July 24, 2013, CBS entered into an agreement with Litton Entertainment
, which already programmed a syndicated Saturday morning block exclusive to ABC stations and would later produce a block for CBS sister network The CW
that would debut the following year, to launch a new Saturday morning block featuring live-action reality-based lifestyle, wildlife, and sports series. The Litton-produced CBS Dream Team block, aimed at teenagers 13 to 16 years old, debuted on September 28, 2013, replacing Cookie Jar TV.
Animated primetime holiday specials
CBS was the original broadcast network home of the animated primetime holiday specials based on the Peanuts
comic strip, beginning with A Charlie Brown Christmas
in 1965. Over 30 holiday Peanuts specials (each for a specific holiday such as Halloween
) were broadcast on CBS until 2000, when the broadcast rights were acquired by ABC. CBS also aired several primetime animated specials based on the works of Dr. Seuss
(Theodor Geisel), beginning with How the Grinch Stole Christmas
in 1966, as well as several specials based on the Garfield
comic strip during the 1980s (which led to Garfield getting his own Saturday morning cartoon
on the network, Garfield and Friends
, which ran from 1988 to 1995). Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
, produced in stop motion
, has been another annual holiday staple of CBS; however, that special first aired on NBC in 1964. As of 2011, Rudolph
and Frosty the Snowman
are the only two pre-1990 animated specials remaining on CBS; the broadcast rights to the Charlie Brown
specials are now held by ABC, The Grinch
rights by NBC, and the rights to the Garfield
specials by Boomerang
All of these animated specials, from 1973 to 1990, began with a fondly remembered seven-second animated opening sequence, in which the words "A CBS Special Presentation" were displayed in colorful lettering (the ITC Avant Garde
typeface, widely used in the 1970s, was used for the title logo). The word "SPECIAL", in all caps
and repeated multiple times in multiple colors, slowly zoomed out from the frame in a spinning counterclockwise motion against a black background, and rapidly zoomed back into frame as a single word, in white, at the end; the sequence was accompanied by a jazzy though majestic up-tempo fanfare with dramatic horns and percussion (which was edited incidental music from the CBS crime drama Hawaii Five-O
, titled "Call to Danger" on the Capitol Records
soundtrack LP). This opening sequence appeared immediately before all CBS specials of the period (such as the Miss USA
pageants and the annual presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors
), in addition to animated specials (this opening was presumably designed by or under the supervision of longtime CBS creative director Lou Dorfsman
, who oversaw print and on-air graphics for CBS for nearly 30 years, replacing William Golden
, who died in 1959).
Classical music specials
Over the years, CBS has broadcast three different productions of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker
– two live telecasts of the George Balanchine New York City Ballet
production in 1957 and 1958 respectively, a little-known German-American filmed production in 1965 (which was subsequently repeated three times and starred Edward Villella
, Patricia McBride
and Melissa Hayden
), and beginning in 1977, the Mikhail Baryshnikov staging of the ballet, starring the Russian dancer along with Gelsey Kirkland
– a version that would become a television classic, and remains so today (the broadcast of this production later moved to PBS).
In April 1986, CBS presented a slightly abbreviated version of Horowitz in Moscow
, a live piano recital by pianist Vladimir Horowitz
, which marked his return to Russia after over 60 years. The recital was televised as an episode of CBS News Sunday Morning
(televised at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time in the U.S., as the recital was performed simultaneously at 4:00 p.m. in Russia
). It was so successful that CBS repeated it a mere two months later by popular demand, this time on videotape, rather than live. In later years, the program was shown as a standalone special on PBS
; the current DVD of the telecast omits the commentary by Charles Kuralt
, but includes additional selections not heard on the CBS telecast.
In 1986, CBS telecast Carnegie Hall: The Grand Reopening
in primetime, in what was then a rare move for a commercial broadcast network, since most primetime classical music specials were relegated to PBS and A&E
by this time. The program was a concert commemorating the re-opening of Carnegie Hall
after its complete renovation. A range of artists were featured, from classical conductor Leonard Bernstein to popular music singer Frank Sinatra
In order to compete with NBC, which produced the televised version of the Mary Martin
Broadway production of Peter Pan
, CBS responded with a musical production of Cinderella
, with music by Richard Rodgers
and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
. Based upon the classic Charles Perrault fairy tale
, it is the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to have been written for television. It was originally broadcast live in color on CBS on March 31, 1957 as a vehicle for Julie Andrews
, who played the title role; that broadcast was seen by over 100 million people. It was subsequently remade by CBS in 1965, with Lesley Ann Warren, Stuart Damon, Ginger Rogers
, and Walter Pidgeon
among its stars; the remake also included the new song "Loneliness of Evening", which was originally composed in 1949 for South Pacific
but was not performed in that musical.
This version was rebroadcast several times on CBS into the early 1970s, and is occasionally broadcast on various cable networks to this day; both versions are available on DVD.
CBS was also the original broadcast home for the primetime specials produced by the National Geographic Society
. The Geographic series in the U.S. started on CBS in 1964, before moving to ABC in 1973 (the specials subsequently moved to PBS – under the production of Pittsburgh member station WQED – in 1975 and NBC in 1995, before returning to PBS in 2000). The specials have featured stories on many scientific figures such as Louis Leakey
, Jacques Cousteau
and Jane Goodall
, that not only featured their work but helped make them internationally known and accessible to millions. A majority of the specials were narrated by various actors, notably Alexander Scourby
during the CBS run. The success of the specials led in part to the creation of the National Geographic Channel
, a cable channel launched in January 2001 as a joint venture between the National Geographic Society and Fox Cable Networks
. The specials' distinctive theme music, by Elmer Bernstein
, was also adopted by the National Geographic Channel.
Other notable specials
The Miss USA beauty pageant
aired on CBS from 1963 to 2002; during a large portion of that period, the telecast was often emceed by the host of one of the network's game shows. John Charles Daly
hosted the show from 1963 to 1966, succeeded by Bob Barker from 1967 to 1987 (at which point Barker, an animal rights activist
who eventually convinced producers of The Price Is Right
to cease offering fur coats
as prizes on the program, quit in a dispute over their use), Alan Thicke
in 1988, Dick Clark
from 1989 to 1993, and Bob Goen
from 1994 to 1996. The pageant's highest viewership was recorded in the early 1980s, when it regularly topped the Nielsen ratings on the week of its broadcast.
Viewership dropped sharply throughout the 1990s and 2000s, from an estimated viewership of 20 million to an average of 7 million from 2000 to 2001.
In 2002, Donald Trump
(owner of the Miss USA pageant's governing body, the Miss Universe Organization
) brokered a new deal with NBC, giving it half-ownership of the Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA pageants and moving them to that network as part of an initial five-year contract,
which began in 2003 and ended in 2015 after 12 years amid Trump's controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants during the launch of his 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination
On June 1, 1977, it was announced that Elvis Presley
had signed a deal with CBS to appear in a new television special. Under the agreement, CBS would videotape Presley's concerts during the summer of 1977; the special was filmed during Presley's final tour at stops in Omaha, Nebraska
(on June 19) and Rapid City, South Dakota
(on June 21 of that year). CBS aired the special, Elvis in Concert
, on October 3, 1977,
nearly two months after Presley's death
in his Graceland
mansion on August 16.
CBS has 15 owned-and-operated stations, and current and pending affiliation agreements with 228 additional television stations encompassing 51 states, the District of Columbia, two U.S. possessions, Bermuda
and St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The network has a national reach of 95.96% of all households in the United States (or 299,861,665 Americans with at least one television set). Currently, New Jersey
, New Hampshire
are the only U.S. states where CBS does not have a locally licensed affiliate (New Jersey is served by New York City O&O WCBS-TV and Philadelphia O&O KYW-TV; Delaware is served by KYW and Salisbury, Maryland
; and New Hampshire is served by Boston
and Burlington, Vermont
CBS maintains affiliations with low-power stations (broadcasting either in analog or digital) in a few markets, such as Harrisonburg, Virginia
), Palm Springs, California
) and Parkersburg, West Virginia
(WIYE-LD). In some markets, including both of those mentioned, these stations also maintain digital simulcasts on a subchannel of a co-owned/co-managed full-power television station. CBS also maintains a sizeable number of subchannel-only affiliations, the majority of which are with stations in cities located outside of the 50 largest Nielsen-designated markets; the largest CBS subchannel affiliate by market size is KOGG
in Wailuku, Hawaii
, which serves as a repeater of Honolulu
(the sister station of KOGG parent KHNL).
Nexstar Media Group
is the largest operator of CBS stations by numerical total, owning 49 CBS affiliates (counting satellites); Tegna Media
is the largest operator of CBS stations in terms of overall market reach, owning 15 CBS-affiliated stations (including affiliates in the larger markets in Houston
and Washington, D.C.
) that reach 8.9% of the country.
CBS provides video on demand
access for delayed viewing of the network's programming through various means, including via its website at CBS.com; the network's apps
and newer version Windows
devices; a traditional VOD service called CBS on Demand available on most traditional cable and IPTV providers; and through content deals with Amazon Video
(which holds exclusive streaming rights to the CBS drama series Extant
and Under the Dome
) and Netflix
Notably, however, CBS is the only major broadcast network that does not provide recent episodes of its programming on Hulu
(sister network The CW does offer its programming on the streaming
service, albeit on a one-week delay after becoming available on the network's website on Hulu's free service, with users of its subscription service being granted access to newer episodes of CW series eight hours after their initial broadcast), due to concerns over cannibalizing viewership of some of the network's most prominent programs; however, episode back catalogs of certain past and present CBS series are available on the service through an agreement with CBS Television Distribution.
Upon the release of the app in March 2013, CBS restricted streaming of the most recent episode of any of the network's program on its streaming app for Apple iOS
devices until eight days after their initial broadcast in order to encourage live or same-week (via both DVR
and cable on demand) viewing; programming selections on the app were limited until the release of its Google Play
and Windows 8
apps in October 2013, expanded the selections to include full episodes of all CBS series to which the network does not license the streaming rights to other services.
On October 28, 2014, CBS launched CBS All Access
, an over-the-top
subscription streaming service – priced at $5.99 per month ($9.99 with the no commercials option) – which allows users to view past and present episodes of CBS shows.
Announced on October 16, 2014 (one day after HBO announced the launch of its over-the-top service HBO Now
) as the first OTT offering by a USA broadcast television network, the service initially encompassed the network's existing streaming portal at CBS.com and its mobile app for smartphones
and tablet computers
; CBS All Access became available on Roku
on April 7, 2015, and on Chromecast
on May 14, 2015.
In addition to providing full-length episodes of CBS programs, the service allows live programming streams of local CBS affiliates in 124 markets reaching 75% of the United States.
CBS All Access offers the most recent episodes of the network's shows the day after their original broadcast, as well as complete back catalogs of most of its current series and a wide selection of episodes of classic series from the CBS Television Distribution
and ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
program library, to subscribers of the service. CBS All Access also carries behind-the-scenes features from CBS programs and special events.
In December 2018, the service was launched in Australia under the name 10 All Access
, due to its affiliation with ViacomCBS-owned free to air broadcaster Network 10
. Due to local programming rights, not all content is shared with its US counterpart, whilst the Australian version also features numerous full seasons of local Network 10 shows, all commercial-free.
It was announced in September 2020 that the service will be rebranded as Paramount+
in early 2021, and will feature content from the wider ViacomCBS
library following the re-merger between CBS and Viacom. The name will also be extended to international markets and services such as 10 All Access. 
CBS's master feed is transmitted in 1080i high definition
, the native resolution format for CBS Corporation's television properties. However, seven of its affiliates transmit the network's programming in 720p
HD, while seven others carry the network feed in 480i standard definition
either due to technical considerations for affiliates of other major networks that carry CBS programming on a digital subchannel or because a primary feed CBS affiliate has not yet upgraded their transmission equipment to allow content to be presented in HD. A small number of CBS stations and affiliates are also currently broadcasting at 1080p
via an ATSC 3.0
multiplex station to simulcast a station's programing such as WNCN
in Durham, North Carolina, WTVF
in Nashville, and KLAS-TV
in Las Vegas
CBS began its conversion to high definition with the launch of its simulcast feed CBS HD in September 1998, at the start of the 1998–99 season
. That year, the network aired the first NFL game broadcast in high-definition, with the telecast of the New York Jets
game on November 8. The network gradually converted much of its existing programming from standard definition
to high definition beginning with the 2000–01 season
, with select shows among that season's slate of freshmen scripted series being broadcast in HD starting with their debuts. The Young and the Restless
became the first daytime soap opera to broadcast in HD on June 27, 2001.
CBS's 14-year conversion to an entirely high definition schedule ended in 2014, with Big Brother
and Let's Make a Deal
becoming the final two series to convert from 4:3
standard definition to HD (in contrast, NBC, Fox and The CW were already airing their entire programming schedules – outside of Saturday mornings – in high definition by the 2010–11 season, while ABC was broadcasting its entire schedule in HD by the 2011–12 midseason). All of the network's programming has been presented in full HD since then (with the exception of certain holiday
specials produced prior to 2005 – such as the Rankin-Bass specials – which continue to be presented in 4:3 SD, although some have been remastered for HD broadcast).
On September 1, 2016, when ABC converted to a 16:9
widescreen presentation, CBS and The CW were the only remaining networks that framed their promotions and on-screen graphical elements for a 4:3
presentation, though with CBS Sports' de facto
16:9 conversion with Super Bowl 50
and their new graphical presentation designed for 16:9 framing, in practice, most CBS affiliates ask pay-TV providers to pass down a 16:9 widescreen presentation by default over their standard definition channels. This continued for CBS until September 24, 2018, when the network converted its on-screen graphical elements to a 16:9 widescreen presentation for all non-news and sports programs. Litton Entertainment continues to frame the graphical elements in their programs for Dream Team
within a 4:3 frame due to them being positioned for future syndicated sales, though all of its programming has been in high definition.
A 1951 advertisement for the CBS Television Network introduced the Eye logo.
The classic CBS corporate logo, using CBS Didot typeface
The CBS television network's initial logo, used from the 1940s to 1951, consisted of an oval spotlight which shone on the block letters "CBS".
The present-day Eye device was conceived by William Golden, based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign
and a Shaker
drawing; while commonly attributed to Golden, there is speculation that at least some design work on the symbol may have been done by CBS staff designer Georg Olden
, one of the first African-Americans to attract some attention in the postwar graphic design field.
The Eye device made its broadcast debut on October 20, 1951. The following season, as Golden prepared a new "ident", CBS President Frank Stanton insisted on keeping the Eye device and using it as much as possible (Golden died unexpectedly in 1959, and was replaced by Lou Dorfsman
, one of his top assistants, who would go on to oversee all print and on-air graphics for CBS for the next 30 years).
The CBS eye has since become an American icon. While the symbol's settings have changed, the Eye device itself has not been redesigned in its entire history.
As part of a new graphical identity created by Trollbäck + Company that was introduced by the network in 2006, the eye was placed in a "trademark" position on show titles, days of the week and descriptive words, an approach highly respecting the value of the design. The logo is alternately known as the "Eyemark", which was also the name of CBS's domestic and international syndication divisions in the mid-to-late 1990s before the King World acquisition and Viacom merger.
In October 2011, the network celebrated the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the Eye logo, featuring special IDs of logo versions from previous CBS image campaigns being shown during the network's primetime lineup.
CBS had historically used a specially-commissioned variant of Didot
, a close relative to Bodoni
, as its corporate font.
CBS has developed several notable image campaigns, and several of the network's most well-known slogans were introduced in the 1980s. The "Reach for the Stars" campaign used during the 1981–82 season
features a space theme to capitalize on both CBS's stellar improvement in the ratings and the historic launch of the space shuttle Columbia
. 1982's "Great Moments" juxtaposed scenes from classic CBS programs such as I Love Lucy
with scenes from the network's then-current classics such as Dallas
. From 1983 to 1986, CBS (by now firmly atop the ratings) featured a campaign based on the slogan "We've Got the Touch". Vocals for the campaign's jingle were contributed by Richie Havens
(1983–84; one occasion in 1984–85) and Kenny Rogers
The 1986–87 season
ushered in the "Share the Spirit of CBS" campaign, the network's first to completely use computer graphics and digital video effects
. Unlike most network campaign promos, the full-length version of "Share the Spirit" not only showed a brief clip preview of each new fall series, but also utilized CGI effects to map out the entire fall schedule by night. The success of that campaign led to the 1987–88 "CBS Spirit" (or "CBSPIRIT") campaign. Like its predecessor, most "CBSpirit" promos utilized a procession of clips from the network's programs. However, the new graphic motif was a swirling (or "swishing") blue line that was used to represent "the spirit". The full-length promo, like the previous year, had a special portion that identified new fall shows, but the mapped-out fall schedule shot was abandoned.
For the 1988–89 season
, CBS unveiled a new image campaign officially known as "Television You Can Feel", but more commonly identified as "You Can Feel It On CBS". The goal was to convey a more sensual, new-age image through distinguished, advanced-looking computer graphics and soothing music, backgrounding images and clips of emotionally powerful scenes and characters. However, it was this season in which CBS saw its ratings freefall, the deepest in the network's history. CBS ended the decade with "Get Ready for CBS", introduced with the 1989–90 season
. The initial version was an ambitious campaign that attempted to elevate CBS out of last place (among the major networks); the motif centered around network stars interacting with each other in a remote studio set, getting ready for photo and television shoots, as well as for the new season on CBS. The high-energy promo song and the campaign's practices saw many customized variations by all of CBS's owned-and-operated stations and affiliates, which participated in the campaign per a network mandate. In addition, for the first time in history, CBS became the first broadcast network to partner with a national retailer (in this case, Kmart
) to encourage viewership, with the "CBS/Kmart Get Ready Giveaway".
For the 1990–91 season
, the campaign featured a new jingle performed by the Temptations
, which featured an altered version of their hit "Get Ready
". The early 1990s featured less-than-memorable campaigns, with simplified taglines such as "This is CBS" (1992) and "You're on CBS" (1995). Eventually, the promotions department gained momentum again late in the decade with "Welcome Home to a CBS Night" (1996–1997), simplified to Welcome Home
(1997–1999) and succeeded by the spin-off campaign "The Address is CBS" (1999–2000), whose history can be traced back to a CBS slogan from the radio era of the 1940s, "The Stars' Address is CBS". During the 1992 season for the end-of-show network identification sequence, a four-note sound mark was introduced, which was eventually adapted into the network's IDs and production company vanity cards following the closing credits of most of its programs during the "Welcome Home" era.
Throughout the 2000s, CBS's ratings resurgence was backed by the network's "It's All Here" campaign (which introduced updated versions of the 1992 sound mark used during certain promotions and production company vanity cards during the closing credits of programs); in 2005 campaign introduced the slogan "Everybody's Watching", the network's strategy led to the proclamation that it was "America's Most Watched Network". The network's 2006 campaign introduced the slogan "We Are CBS", with Don LaFontaine
providing the voiceover for the IDs (as well as certain network promos) during this period. In 2009, the network introduced a campaign entitled "Only CBS", in which network promotions proclaim several unique qualities it has (the slogan was also used in program promotions following the announcement of the timeslot of a particular program). The "America's Most Watched Network" was re-introduced by CBS in 2011, used alongside the "Only CBS" slogan.
In October 2020, CBS announced that it will begin to employ a more unified branding between the network and its divisions to strengthen brand awareness
across platforms. This includes a new frontcap (featuring an animation of the eyemark as shapes) and five-note sonic branding
that will be aired before all CBS-produced programming and event telecasts (with CBS entertainment programming using a dark blue version, CBS News using black and white, and CBS Sports using colors relating to the event), as well as CBS Television Studios being renamed to CBS Studios. The network also plans to discontinue its use of proclamations regarding its stature in promos, with chief marketing officer Michael Benson explaining that they aimed to "be something where people feel like they are part of the family. It's tough to unify if you’re bragging about yourself." These new elements are being rolled out in stages, with CBS News beginning to use them ahead of the 2020 presidential election
, and CBS Sports launching the elements at Super Bowl LV
CBS programs are shown outside the United States: through various ViacomCBS international networks and/or content agreements, and in two North American countries, through U.S.-based CBS stations.
, CBS network programming is carried on cable, satellite and IPTV
providers through affiliates and owned-and-operated stations of the network that are located within proximity to the Canada–United States border (such as KIRO-TV
/Buffalo, New York
), some of which may also be receivable over-the-air in parts of southern Canada depending on the signal coverage of the station. Most programming is generally the same as it airs in the United States; however, some CBS programming on U.S.-based affiliates permitted for carriage by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
by Canadian cable and satellite providers are subject to simultaneous substitutions
, a practice in which a pay television provider supplants an American station's signal with a feed from a Canadian station/network airing a particular program in the same time slot to protect domestic advertising revenue.
On September 14, 2009, the international arm of CBS, CBS Studios International
, reached a joint venture deal with Chellomedia
to launch six CBS-branded channels in the United Kingdom – which would respectively replace Zone Romantica
, Zone Thriller
, Zone Horror and Zone Reality
, as well as timeshift services Zone Horror +1 and Zone Reality +1 – during the fourth quarter of that year.
On October 1, 2009, it was announced that the first four channels, CBS Reality
, CBS Reality +1, CBS Drama and CBS Action
(later CBS Justice), would launch on November 16 – respectively replacing Zone Reality, Zone Reality +1, Zone Romantica and Zone Thriller.
On April 5, 2010, Zone Horror and Zone Horror +1 were rebranded as Horror Channel
and Horror Channel +1.
and BBC News
have maintained a news sharing agreement since 2017, replacing the BBC
's longtime agreement with ABC News
and CBS's with Sky News
(which would have ended in any event in 2018 due to that entity's purchase by NBCUniversal).
As of the close of the Viacom merger on December 4, 2019, Channel 5
is now a sister operation to CBS, though no major changes to CBS's relationship with the BBC are expected in the near future, as Channel 5 sub-contracts its news programming obligations
Australian free-to-air broadcaster Ten Network Holdings
has been owned by CBS Corporation since 2017 (and subsequently, ViacomCBS). All of Network Ten's channels, 10
, 10 Peach
, 10 Bold
and 10 Shake
, all carry CBS programming, with 10 Shake drawing extensively from the wider ViacomCBS library including MTV and Nickelodeon. Prior to the acquisition, CBS had long been a major supplier of international programs to the network. The cost of maintaining program supply agreements with CBS and 21st Century Fox was a major factor in the network's unprofitability during the mid-2010s.
Network Ten entered voluntary administration in June 2017.
CBS Corporation was the network's largest creditor.
CBS Corporation chose to acquire the network, completing the transaction in November 2017.
In the U.S. territory of Guam
, the network is affiliated with low-power station KUAM-LP
. Entertainment and non-breaking news programming is shown day and date on a one-day broadcast delay
, as Guam is located on the west side of the International Date Line
(for example, NCIS
, which airs on Tuesday nights, is carried Wednesdays on KUAM-LP, and is advertised by the station as airing on the latter night in on-air promotions), with live programming and breaking news coverage airing as scheduled, meaning live sports coverage often airs early in the morning.
In Hong Kong
, the CBS Evening News
was broadcast live during the early morning hours on ATV; networks in that country maintains agreement to rebroadcast portions of the program 12 hours after the initial broadcast to provide additional content in the event that their affiliates have insufficient news content to fill time during their local news programs.
, CBS maintained a brand licensing agreement with Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd. for three CBS-branded channels: Big CBS Prime
, Big CBS Spark
and Big CBS Love
. These channels were shut down in late November 2013. Following the CBS and Viacom merger, Hindi-language general entertainment channel Colors TV
became a sister network to CBS through the Viacom 18
joint venture with TV18
. Although many Indians recognized their great works through OTT platforms in the later years.
, in 2012 the channels Zone Reality and Zone Romanatica have been rebranded as CBS Reality and CBS Drama, respectively. The channels were carried by Israeli television providers yes
, although as of 2018 they both only carry CBS Reality.
Brown & Williamson interview
In 1995, CBS refused to air a 60 Minutes
segment that featured an interview with a former president of research and development for Brown & Williamson
, the U.S.'s third largest tobacco company. The controversy raised questions about the legal roles in decision-making and whether journalistic standards should be compromised despite legal pressures and threats. The decision nevertheless sent shockwaves throughout the television industry, the journalism community, and the country.
This incident was the basis for the 1999 Michael Mann
-directed drama film, The Insider
Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show incident
In 2004, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a record $550,000 fine, the largest fine ever for a violation of federal decency laws, against CBS for an incident during its broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVIII
in which singer Janet Jackson
's right breast (which was partially covered by a piece of nipple jewelry) was briefly and accidentally exposed by guest performer Justin Timberlake
at the end of a duet performance of Timberlake's 2003 single "Rock Your Body
" during the halftime show
(produced by then sister cable network MTV
Following the incident, CBS apologized to its viewers and denied foreknowledge of the incident, which was televised live. The incident resulted in a period of increased regulation of broadcast television and radio outlets (including self-imposed content regulation by networks and syndicators), which raised concerns surrounding censorship
and freedom of speech
and resulted in the FCC voting to increase its maximum fine for indecency violations from US$27,500 to US$325,000.
In 2008, a Philadelphia federal court annulled the fine imposed on CBS, labelling it "arbitrary and capricious".
Killian documents controversy
On September 8, 2004, less than two months before the Presidential election
in which he defeated Democratic
candidate John Kerry
, CBS aired a controversial episode of 60 Minutes Wednesday
, which questioned then-President George W. Bush
's service in the Air National Guard
in 1972 and 1973.
Following allegations of forgery, CBS News admitted that four of the documents used in the story had not been properly authenticated and admitted that their source, Bill Burkett, had admitted to having "deliberately misled" a CBS News producer who worked on the report, about the documents' origins out of a confidentiality promise to the actual source.
The following January, CBS fired four people connected to the preparation of the segment.
Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and former corporate parent Viacom in September 2007, contending the story, and his termination (he resigned as CBS News chief anchor in 2005), were mishandled.
Parts of the suit were dismissed in 2008;
subsequently in 2010, the entire suit was dismissed and Rather's motion to appeal was denied.
In January 2013, CNET
named Dish Network
's "Hopper with Sling
" digital video recorder as a nominee for the CES
"Best in Show" award (which is decided by CNET on behalf of its organizers, the Consumer Electronics Association
), and named it the winner in a vote by the site's staff. However, CBS division CBS Interactive disqualified the Hopper, and vetoed the results as CBS was in active litigation with Dish Network over its AutoHop
technology (which allows users to skip commercial advertisements during recorded programs).
CNET announced that it would no longer review any product or service provided by companies that CBS Corporation was in litigation with. The "Best in Show" award was instead given to the Razer Edge
On January 14, 2013, CNET editor-in-chief Lindsey Turrentine said in a statement that its staff was in an "impossible" situation due to the conflict of interest
posed by the lawsuit, and promised to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. The conflict also prompted the resignation of CNET senior writer Greg Sandoval.
As a result of the controversy, the CEA announced on January 31, 2013 that CNET will no longer decide the CES Best in Show award winner due to the interference of CBS (with the position being offered to other technology publications), and the "Best in Show" award was jointly awarded to both the Hopper with Sling and Razer Edge.
In July 2018, an article by Ronan Farrow
in The New Yorker
claimed that thirty "current and former CBS employees described harassment, gender discrimination, or retaliation" at CBS and six women accused Les Moonves of harassment and intimidation.
Following these allegations, it was reported on September 6, 2018 that CBS board members were negotiating Les Moonves's departure from the company.
On September 9, 2018, The New Yorker
reported that six additional women (in addition to the six original women reported in July) had raised accusations against Moonves, going back to the 1980s.
Following this, Moonves resigned the same day as chief executive of CBS.
Presidents of CBS Entertainment
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