DuMont Television Network
From The TV IV
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The DuMont Television Network operated from 1945 to 1956. The network was started by, and named for, Dr. Allen B. DuMont, an inventor and early pioneer in television. Its first broadcast was an announcement of the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945.
DuMont was the first network to initiate television broadcasts on a commercial basis in 1946. It had stations in position in New York and Washington D.C., and had Paramount Pictures as a minority stockholder. The network was started up after experimenting with cable hookups between the Washington station (which was and is now WTTG/channel 5) and New York station (which was WABD, now WNYW/channel 5). A third affiliate, WDTV in Pittsburgh (today CBS' KDKA), soon signed on.
DuMont was instrumental in providing a link to air live programming from the East Coast to the West, with WDTV providing viewership to Midwest viewers. Among shows DuMont offered included children's series Captain Video, Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour (which would migrate later to CBS), Pantomime Quiz (which revolved among the other networks as well), Down You Go (a game show that received an Emmy nomination), and live boxing and professional wrestling. Ratings for DuMont during the early time were good, as even the network's religious series Life Is Worth Living held its own against Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater on NBC.
DuMont's troubles began when smaller markets relegated them to secondary affiliation, and many of them ran shows on kinescope delays. Also hurting the network was that Paramount owned stations in Los Angeles (KTLA/channel 5, which aired DuMont for a year at the start) and Chicago (WBKB/channel 4, now CBS' WBBM/channel 2) and were considered DuMont owned-and-operated stations. This gave them five stations, and prohibited them from expanding ownership to other cities.
UHF came into play in the 1950s, and DuMont made efforts to obtain primary affiliates on that band, mainly in cities with three VHF allocations where ABC, CBS and NBC were already taken up. But television receivers were not equipped with UHF, nor were they required to at the time. The final nail in the coffin came when United Paramount Theaters merged with ABC. A possible merger with ABC and DuMont was bantered about, but that was nixed by Paramount out of antitrust concerns. Hemmoraging cash, DuMont sold WDTV to Westinghouse and had only eight programs on their schedule by 1954. Affiliates clearing DuMont as secondary dropped it in 1955, and all that was left was WABD and WTTG. Paramount seized control of DuMont and shut it down in 1956.