The DuMont Television Network (also known as the DuMont Network, simply DuMont/Du Mont, or (incorrectly) Dumont ) was one of America's pioneer commercial
television network A television network or broadcaster is a telecommunications network for distribution of television program content, where a central operation provides programming to many television stations or pay television providers. Until the mid-1980s, te ...
s, rivalling NBC and
for the distinction of being first overall in the United States. It was owned by Allen B. DuMont Laboratories, a television equipment and set manufacturer, and began operation on June 28, 1942.Weinstein, David (2004). ''The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television'', p. 16. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. . The network was hindered by the prohibitive cost of
broadcasting Broadcasting is the distribution of sound, audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic medium (communication), mass communications medium, but typically one using the electromagnetic spectrum (radio waves), in a :wikt:one-t ...
, by a freeze on new television stations in 1948 by the
Federal Communications Commission The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the United States government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the ...
(FCC) that restricted the network's growth, and even by the company's partner,
Paramount Pictures Paramount Pictures Corporation (commonly known as Paramount Pictures, or simply Paramount) is an American film production company and a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. It is the fifth oldest film studio in the world, the second oldest film studio ...

Paramount Pictures
. Despite several innovations in broadcasting and the creation of one of television's biggest stars of the 1950s,
Jackie Gleason Jackie or Jacky may refer to: People and fictional characters * Jackie (given name) Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie or Jacky is a given name or nickname for both males and females, originally a pet form of Jack (given name), Jack, John (given name ...
, the network never found itself on solid financial ground. Forced to expand on UHF channels during an era when UHF tuning was not yet a standard feature of television sets, DuMont fought an uphill battle for program clearances outside its three owned-and-operated stations in
New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 8,336,817 distributed over about , New York City is also the L ...

New York City
, Washington, D.C., and
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States and the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County. An estimated population of about 300,286 residents live within the city limits as of 2019, makin ...
. It ended network operations on August 6, 1956. DuMont's latter-day obscurity, caused mainly by the destruction of its extensive program archive by the 1970s, has prompted TV historian David Weinstein to refer to it as the "forgotten network".Weinstein,
"The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television" (PDF)
Temple University Press, 2004. Retrieved on January 6, 2007.
A few popular DuMont programs, such as '' Cavalcade of Stars'' and
Emmy Award An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is a trophy presented at one of the numerous annual American events or competitions that each recognize achievements in a particular sector of the television industry. The Emmy is considered one of the four majo ...
winner '' Life Is Worth Living'', appear in television
retrospective A retrospective (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
s or are mentioned briefly in books about U.S. television history.



DuMont Laboratories was founded in 1931 by Dr. Allen B. DuMont with only $1,000, and a laboratory in his basement. He and his staff were responsible for many early technical innovations, including the first consumer History of television#Electronic television, all-electronic television receiver in 1938. Their most revolutionary contribution came when the team successfully extended the life of a cathode ray tube from 24 to 1000 hours, making television sets a practical product for consumers. The company's television receivers soon became the gold standard of the industry.Dean, L
DuMont TV — KTTV TV11
. Larry Dean's R-VCR Television Production website. Retrieved December 28, 2006.
In 1942, DuMont worked with the US Army in developing radar technology during World War II. This brought in $5 million for the company.Bergmann, Ted, Skutch, Ira. (2002) The Du Mont Television Network: What Happened? : A significant episode in the history of broadcasting. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press. Early sales of television receivers ("sets") were hampered by the lack of regularly scheduled programming being broadcast. A few months after selling his first set in 1938, DuMont opened his own New York-area experimental television station (W2XVT) in Passaic, New Jersey. In 1940, the station moved to Manhattan as W2XWV on channel 4 and commenced broadcasting on June 28, 1942. Unlike and NBC, which reduced their hours of television broadcasting during World War II, DuMont continued full-scale experimental and commercial broadcasts throughout the war. In 1944, W2XWV became WNYW, WABD (a callsign derived from DuMont's initials). In 1945, it moved to channel 5, becoming the third commercial television station in New York. On May 19, 1945, DuMont opened experimental W3XWT in Washington, D.C.
Paramount Pictures Paramount Pictures Corporation (commonly known as Paramount Pictures, or simply Paramount) is an American film production company and a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. It is the fifth oldest film studio in the world, the second oldest film studio ...

Paramount Pictures
became a minority shareholder in DuMont Laboratories when it advanced $400,000 in 1939 for a 40% share in the company.Castleman, H. & Podrazik, W. (1982) ''Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television'', p. 11. New York: McGraw-Hill.Auter, P. & Boyd, D
DuMont: The Original Fourth Television Network
''The Journal of Popular Culture''. Vol. 29 Issue 3 Page 63 Winter 1995. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Paramount had television interests of its own, having launched experimental stations in Los Angeles in 1939 and Chicago in 1940. DuMont's association with Paramount would later come back to haunt DuMont.Spadoni, M. (June 2003)
DuMont: America's First "Fourth Network"
. Television Heaven. Retrieved on September 6, 2019.
Soon after his experimental Washington station Sign-on and sign-off, signed on, DuMont began experimental coaxial cable hookups between his laboratories in Passaic and his two stations. It is said that one of those broadcasts on the hookup announced that the U.S. had dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. This was later considered to be the official beginning of the DuMont Network by both Thomas T. Goldsmith, the network's chief engineer and DuMont's best friend, and DuMont himself. Regular network service began on August 15, 1946, on WABD and W3XWT. In November 1946, W3XWT was granted a commercial license and became WTTG, named after Goldsmith. These two DuMont Owned-and-operated station, owned-and-operated stations were joined by WDTV (channel 3) in
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States and the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County. An estimated population of about 300,286 residents live within the city limits as of 2019, makin ...
on January 11, 1949. Although NBC in New York was known to have station-to-station television links as early as 1940 with WPTZ (now KYW-TV, KYW) in Philadelphia and WRGB Schenectady, New York, DuMont received its broadcast license, station licenses before NBC resumed its previously sporadic network broadcasts after the war.Bergmann, Ted; Skutch, Ira (2002). The DuMont Television Network: What Happened?, pp. 16–18. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. American Broadcasting Company, ABC had just come into existence as a radio network in 1943 and did not enter network television until 1948 when its flagship station in New York City, WJZ-TV (now WABC-TV), began broadcasting. CBS also waited until 1948 to begin network operations, because it was waiting for the Federal Communications Commission to approve its color television system (which it eventually did not). Other companies, including Mutual Broadcasting System, Mutual, the Yankee Network, and Paramount, were interested in starting television networks, but were prevented from successfully doing so by restrictive FCC regulations, although the Paramount Television Network did have some limited success in network operations in the late 1940s and early 1950s.


Despite no history of radio programming, no stable of radio stars to draw on, and perennial cash shortages, DuMont was an innovative and creative network.Auter, P. (200
DuMont, Allen B
. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Without the radio revenues that supported mighty NBC and CBS, DuMont programmers relied on their wits and on connections with Broadway theatre, Broadway. Eventually, the network provided original programs that are remembered more than 60 years later. The network largely ignored the standard business model of 1950s TV, in which one advertiser sponsored an entire show, enabling it to have complete control over its content. Instead, DuMont sold Television advertisement, commercials to many different advertisers, freeing producers of its shows from the veto power held by sole sponsors. This eventually became the standard model for US television. Some commercial time was sold regionally on a co-op basis, while other spots were sold network-wide. DuMont also holds another important place in American TV history. WDTV's sign-on made it possible for stations in the Midwestern United States, Midwest to receive live network programming from stations on the East Coast of the United States, East Coast, and vice versa.Downs, S. (November 3, 1996)
"The Golden Age of Pittsburgh Television"
. ''Greensburg Tribune-Review''. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Before then, the networks relied on separate regional networks in the two time zones for live programming, and the West Coast of the United States, West Coast received network programming from kinescopes (films shot directly from live television screens) originating from the East Coast. On January 11, 1949, the coaxial cable linking East and Midwest (known in television circles as "the Golden Spike," in reference to the golden spike that united the First Transcontinental Railroad) was activated. The ceremony, hosted by DuMont and WDTV, was carried on all four networks.Hundt, B. (July 30, 2006)
"Remember When: First tube"
. ''Observer-Reporter Publishing''. Retrieved on January 7, 2007.
WGN-TV (channel 9) in Chicago and WABD in New York were able to share programs through a live coaxial cable feed when WDTV signed on in Pittsburgh, because the station completed the East Coast-to-Midwest chain, allowing stations in both regions to air the same program simultaneously, which is still the standard for US TV. It was another two years before the West Coast got live programming from the East (and the East able to get live programming from the West), but this was the beginning of the modern era of network television.History of the AT&T Network — Milestones in AT&T Network History
. AT&T, 2006. Retrieved on December 28, 2006
The first broadcasts came from DuMont's DuMont Building, 515 Madison Avenue headquarters. It soon found additional space, including a fully functioning theater, in the New York branch of Wanamaker's department store at Ninth Street and Broadway. Later, a lease on the Adelphi Theatre (New York), Adelphi Theatre on 54th Street (Manhattan), 54th Street and the Ambassador Theatre (New York City), Ambassador Theatre on West 49th Street gave the network a site for variety shows. In 1954, the lavish DuMont Tele-Centre opened in the former Jacob Ruppert's Central Opera House at 205 East 67th Street, today the site of the Fox Television Center and home of WABD successor station WNYW. DuMont was the first network to broadcast a film production for TV: ''Talk Fast, Mister'', produced by RKO Radio Pictures, RKO in 1944. DuMont also aired the first TV situation comedy, ''Mary Kay and Johnny'', as well as the first network-televised soap opera, ''Faraway Hill''. ''Cavalcade of Stars'', a variety show hosted by
Jackie Gleason Jackie or Jacky may refer to: People and fictional characters * Jackie (given name) Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie or Jacky is a given name or nickname for both males and females, originally a pet form of Jack (given name), Jack, John (given name ...
, was the birthplace of ''The Honeymooners'' (Gleason took his variety show to CBS in 1952, but filmed the The Honeymooners#The "Classic 39" episodes, "Classic 39" Honeymooners episodes at DuMont's Adelphi Theater studio in 1955–56). Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Religious broadcasting, devotional program '' Life Is Worth Living'' went up against Milton Berle in many cities, becoming the first show to compete successfully in the ratings against "Mr. Television". In 1952, Sheen won an
Emmy Award An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is a trophy presented at one of the numerous annual American events or competitions that each recognize achievements in a particular sector of the television industry. The Emmy is considered one of the four majo ...
for "Most Outstanding Personality". The network's other notable programs include: * ''Ted Mack (radio-TV host), Ted Mack's The Original Amateur Hour'', which began on radio in the 1930s under original host Edward Bowes * ''The Morey Amsterdam Show'', a comedy/variety show hosted by Morey Amsterdam, which started on CBS before moving to DuMont in 1949 * ''Captain Video and His Video Rangers'', a hugely popular kids' science fiction seriesMerlin, J
Roaring Rockets: The Space Hero Files
. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Weinstein, D. (2004). ''The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television'', p. 69. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. * ''The Arthur Murray Party'', a dance program * ''Down You Go'', a popular panel show * ''Rocky King, Inside Detective'', a private eye series starring Roscoe Karns * ''The Plainclothesman'', a camera's-eye-view detective series * Live coverage of boxing and professional wrestling, the latter featuring matches staged by National Wrestling Alliance member Fred Kohler Enterprises in Chicago under the name ''Wrestling from Marigold, Wrestling from Marigold Arena'' * ''The Johns Hopkins Science Review'', a Peabody Award-winning education program * ''Cash and Carry (TV series), Cash and Carry'', the first network-televised game show * ''The Ernie Kovacs Show'', the first truly innovative show in what was then visual radio, not television. The network was a pioneer in TV programming aimed at minority audiences and featuring minority performers, at a time when the other American networks aired few television series for non-whites. Among DuMont's minority programs were ''The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong'', starring Asian American film actress Anna May Wong, the first US TV show to star an Asian American; and ''The Hazel Scott Show'', starring pianist and singer Hazel Scott, the first US network TV series to be hosted by a black people, black woman. Although DuMont's programming pre-dated videotape, many DuMont offerings were recorded on kinescopes. These kinescopes were said to be stored in a warehouse until the 1970s. Actress Edie Adams, the wife of comedian Ernie Kovacs (both regular performers on early television) testified in 1996 before a panel of the Library of Congress on the preservation of television and video. Adams claimed that so little value was given to these films that the stored kinescopes were loaded into three trucks and dumped into Upper New York Bay. Nevertheless, a number of DuMont programs survive at The Paley Center for Media in New York City, the UCLA Film and Television Archive in Los Angeles, in the Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.Collections — Early television
. The UCLA Film and Television Archive. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Although nearly the entire DuMont film archive was destroyed, several surviving DuMont shows have been released on DVD. Much of what survived was either never properly copyrighted (live telecasts, because they were not set on a fixed medium, were not eligible for copyright at the time, although films of those telecasts could if they contained a proper copyright notice) or lapsed into the public domain in the late 1970s when DuMont's successor-company Metromedia declined to renew the copyrights. A large number of episodes of ''Life Is Worth Living'' have been saved, and they are now aired weekly on Catholicism, Catholic-oriented cable network, the Eternal Word Television Network, which also makes a collection of them available on DVD (in the biographical information about Fulton J. Sheen added to the end of many episodes, a still image of Bishop Sheen looking into a DuMont Television camera can be seen). Several companies that distribute DVDs over the Internet have released a small number of episodes of ''Cavalcade of Stars'' and ''The Morey Amsterdam Show''. Two more DuMont programs, ''Captain Video and His Video Rangers'' and ''Rocky King, Inside Detective'', have had a small number of surviving episodes released commercially by at least one major distributor of public domain programming. Because so few episodes remain of most DuMont series, they are seldom rerun, even though there is no licensing cost to do so.


DuMont programs were by necessity low-budget affairs, and the network received relatively few awards from the TV industry. Most awards during the 1950s went to NBC and CBS, who were able to out-spend other companies and draw on their extensive history of radio broadcasting in the relatively new television medium. During the 1952–53 TV season, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, host of ''Life Is Worth Living'', won an
Emmy Award An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is a trophy presented at one of the numerous annual American events or competitions that each recognize achievements in a particular sector of the television industry. The Emmy is considered one of the four majo ...
for ''Most Outstanding Personality''. Sheen beat out CBS's Arthur Godfrey, Edward R. Murrow, and Lucille Ball, who were nominated for the same award. Sheen was also nominated for – but did not win – Public Service Emmys in 1952, 1953, and 1954.Weinstein, D. (2004). ''The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television'', p. 156-157. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. DuMont received an Emmy nomination for ''Down You Go'', a popular game show during the 1952–53 television season (in the category ''Best Audience Participation, Quiz, or Panel Program''). The network was nominated twice for NFL on DuMont, its coverage of professional football during the 1953–54 and 1954–55 television seasons. ''The Johns Hopkins Science Review'', a DuMont public affairs (broadcasting), public affairs program, was awarded a Peabody Award in 1952 in the Education category. Sheen's Emmy and the ''Science Review'' Peabody were the only national awards the DuMont Network received.McNeil, Alex (1996). ''Total Television'' (4th ed.), 1121. New York: Penguin Books. Though DuMont series and performers continued to win local TV awards, by the mid-1950s the DuMont network no longer had a national presence.


The earliest measurements of TV audiences were performed by the C. E. Hooper company of New York. DuMont performed well in the Hooper ratings; in fact, DuMont's talent program, ''The Original Amateur Hour'', was the most popular series of the 1947–48 season. Two seasons later, ''Variety (magazine), Variety'' ranked DuMont's popular variety series ''Cavalcade of Stars'' as the tenth most popular series.McNeil, Alex (1996). ''Total Television'' (4th ed.), 1143–1145. New York: Penguin Books. In February 1950, Hooper's competitor ACNielsen, A. C. Nielsen bought out the Hooperatings system. DuMont did not fare well with the change: none of its shows appeared on Nielsen's annual top 20 lists of the most popular series. One of the DuMont Network's biggest hits of the 1950s, ''Life is Worth Living'', did receive Nielsen ratings of up to 11.1, meaning that they attracted more than 10 million viewers. Sheen's one-man program – in which he discussed philosophy, psychology and other fields of thought from a Christian perspective – was the most widely viewed religious series in the history of television. 169 local television stations aired ''Life'', and for three years the program competed successfully against NBC's popular ''The Milton Berle Show''. The ABC and CBS programs that aired in the same timeslot were canceled. ''Life is Worth Living'' was not the only DuMont program to achieve double-digit ratings. In 1952, ''Time (magazine), Time'' magazine reported that popular DuMont game show ''Down You Go'' had attracted an audience estimated at 16 million viewers. Similarly, DuMont's summer 1954 replacement series, ''The Goldbergs (broadcast series), The Goldbergs'', achieved audiences estimated at 10 million. Still, these series were only moderately popular compared to NBC's and CBS's highest-rated programs. Nielsen was not the only company to report TV ratings. Companies such as Trendex, Videodex, and Arbitron had also measured TV viewership. The chart in this section comes from Videodex's August 1950 ratings breakdown, as reported in ''Billboard (magazine), Billboard'' magazine.

Disputes with AT&T and Paramount

DuMont struggled to get its programs aired in many parts of the country, in part due to technical limitations of network lines maintained by telephone company AT&T Corporation. During the 1940s and 1950s, television signals were sent between stations via coaxial cable and microwave links that were owned by AT&T. The service provider did not have enough circuits to provide signal relay service from the four networks to all of their affiliates at the same time, so AT&T allocated times when each network could offer live programs to its affiliates. In 1950, AT&T allotted NBC and CBS each over 100 hours of live prime time network service, but gave ABC 53 hours, and DuMont 37. AT&T also required each television network to lease both radio and television lines. DuMont was the only television network without a radio network, so it was the only network forced to pay for a service it did not use. DuMont protested AT&T's actions with the Federal Communications Commission, and eventually reached a compromise. DuMont's biggest corporate hurdle may have been with the company's own partner, Paramount. Relations between the two companies were strained as early as 1939 when Paramount opened experimental television stations in Los Angeles and Chicago without DuMont's involvement. Dr. DuMont claimed that the original 1937 acquisition proposal required Paramount to expand its television interests "through DuMont". Paramount representative Paul Raibourn, who also was a member of DuMont's board of directors, denied that any such restriction had ever been discussed, but Dr. DuMont was vindicated by a 1953 examination of the original draft document.Hess, Gary Newton (1979). ''An Historical Study of the DuMont Television Network'', p 91. New York: Arno Press. . DuMont aspired to grow beyond its three stations, applying for new television station licenses in Cincinnati and Cleveland in 1947.Hess, Gary Newton (1979). ''An Historical Study of the DuMont Television Network'', pp. 52–53. New York: Arno Press. . This would give the network five owned-and-operated stations (O&Os), the maximum allowed by the FCC at the time. However, DuMont was hampered by Paramount's two stations, KTLA (channel 5) in Los Angeles and WBKB (channel 4, now WBBM-TV on channel 2) in Chicago – the descendants of the two experimental stations that rankled DuMont in 1940. Although these stations did not carry DuMont programming (with the exception of KTLA for one year from 1947 to 1948), and in fact competed against DuMont's affiliates in those cities, the FCC ruled that Paramount essentially controlled DuMont, which effectively placed the network at the five-station cap. Paramount's exertion of influence over the network's management and the power of its voting stock led the FCC to its conclusion. Thus, DuMont was unable to open additional stations as long as Paramount owned stations or owned a portion of DuMont. Paramount refused to sell. In 1949, Paramount Pictures launched the Paramount Television Network, a service that provided local television stations with filmed television programs. Paramount's network "undercut the company that it had invested in." Paramount did not share its stars, big budgets, or filmed programs with DuMont; the company had stopped financially supporting DuMont in 1941. Although Paramount executives indicated they would produce programs for DuMont, the studio never supplied the network with programs or technical assistance. The acrimonious relationship between Paramount and DuMont climaxed during the 1953 FCC hearings regarding the ABC–United Paramount Theaters merger when Paul Raibourn, an executive at Paramount, publicly derided the quality of DuMont television sets in court testimony.White, Timothy R. (1992)
"Hollywood on (Re)Trial: The American Broadcasting-United Paramount Merger Hearing"
''Cinema Journal'', Vol. 31, No. 3. (Spring, 1992), pp. 19–36.

Early troubles

DuMont began with one basic disadvantage: unlike NBC, CBS and ABC, it did not have a radio network from which to draw big-name talent, affiliate loyalty or radio profits to underwrite television operations until the television medium itself became profitable.
Most early television licenses were granted to established radio broadcasters, and many longtime relationships with radio networks carried over to the new medium. As CBS and NBC (and to a lesser extent, ABC) gained their footing, they began to offer programming that drew on their radio backgrounds, bringing over the most popular radio stars. Early television station owners, when deciding which network would receive their main affiliation, were more likely to choose CBS's roster of Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, and Ed Sullivan, or NBC's lineup of Milton Berle and Sid Caesar, over DuMont, which offered a then-unknown Jackie Gleason and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.Jajkowski, S. (2001)
Chicago Television: And Then There Was… DuMont
. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
In smaller markets, with a limited number of stations, DuMont and ABC were often relegated to secondary status, so their programs got clearance only if the primary network was off the air or delayed via kinescope recording ("teletranscriptions" in DuMont parlance). Adding to DuMont's troubles was the Federal Communications Commission#Freeze of 1948, FCC's 1948 "freeze" on television license applications. This was done to sort out the thousands of applications that had come streaming in, but also to rethink the allocation and technical standards laid down prior to World War II. It became clear soon after the war that 12 channels ("channel 1 (NTSC-M), channel 1" had been removed from television broadcasting use because storms and other types of interference could severely affect the quality of its signals) were not nearly enough for national television service. What was to be a six-month freeze lasted until 1952, when the FCC opened the UHF spectrum. The FCC, however, did not require television manufacturers to include UHF capability.McDowell, W
Remembering the DuMont Network: A Case Study Approach
. College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, Southern Illinois University. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
In order to see UHF stations, most people had to buy expensive set-top box, converters. Even then, the picture quality was marginal at best .Ingram, Clarke
"Channel Six: UHF"
DuMont Television Network Historical Web Site. Accessed January 21, 2010.
Tied to this was a decision to restrict Very high frequency, VHF allocations in medium- and smaller-sized markets. Meanwhile, television sets would not be ''required'' to have All-Channel Receiver Act, all-channel tuning until 1964, with the passage of the All-Channel Receiver Act. Forced to rely on UHF to expand, DuMont saw one station after another go dark due to dismal ratings. It bought small, distressed UHF station KCTY (defunct), KCTY (channel 25) in Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Missouri, in 1954, but ran it for just three months before shutting it down at a considerable loss after attempting to compete with three established VHF stations.Bergmann, Ted; Skutch, Ira (2002). ''The DuMont Television Network: What Happened?'', p. 66. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002. . The FCC's Hyman Goldin said in 1960, "If there had been four VHF outlets in the top markets, there's no question DuMont would have lived and would have eventually turned the corner in terms of profitability."Hess, Gary Newton (1979). A Historical Study of the DuMont Television Network. New York: Ayer Publishers. .

Decline and the end of the network

During the early years of television, there was some measure of cooperation among the four major U.S. television networks. However, as television grew into a profitable business, an intense rivalry developed between the networks, just as it had in radio. NBC and CBS competed fiercely for viewers and advertising dollars, a contest neither underfunded DuMont nor ABC could hope to win. According to author Dennis Mazzocco, "NBC tried to make an arrangement with ABC and CBS to destroy the DuMont network." The plan was for NBC and CBS to exclusively offer ABC their most popular series after they had aired on the bigger networks. ABC would become a network of re-runs, but DuMont would be shut out. ABC president Leonard Goldenson rejected NBC executive David Sarnoff's proposal, but did not report it to the United States Department of Justice, Justice Department. DuMont survived the early 1950s only because of WDTV in Pittsburgh, the lone commercial VHF station in what was then the sixth-largest market in the US. WDTV's only competition came from UHF stations WENS-TV (now WINP-TV) & WKJF-TV (now WPGH-TV) and distant stations from Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Youngstown, Ohio; and Wheeling, West Virginia. There were also external factors; the FCC's "freeze" on licenses and intense competition for the remaining VHF licenses in Pittsburgh including WENS-TV appealing the FCC's granting of the channel 11 license that was eventually affirmed for WIIC-TV (now WPXI), the battle between the Hearst Communications, Hearst Corporation (then-owners of WPGP, WCAE) & KQV over the channel 4 license that would eventually become WTAE-TV, and (perhaps the most impactful one to DuMont's future) locally-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation (owners of radio pioneer KDKA (AM), KDKA) battling with local interest groups for the channel 13 license that was intended to be a Public television, non-commercial license. The FCC also denied CBS's request to be granted the WTOV-TV, channel 9 allocation in nearby Steubenville, Ohio and move it to Pittsburgh so that Steubenville had a chance to have its own television station. As a result, no other commercial VHF station signed on in Pittsburgh until WIIC-TV in 1957, giving WDTV a de facto monopoly on television in the area.O'Brien, E. (July 1, 2003)
Pittsburgh Area Radio and TV
. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Since WDTV carried secondary affiliations with the other three networks, DuMont used this as a bargaining chip to get its programs cleared in other large markets.Castleman, H. & Podrazik, W. (1982) ''Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television'', p. 39. New York: McGraw-Hill. Despite its severe financial straits, by 1953, DuMont appeared to be on its way to establishing itself as the third national network.Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1964). ''The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows'' (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. p. xiv. .Grace, R. (October 3, 2002)

. ''Metropolitan News-Enterprise'' Online. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
DuMont programs aired live on 16 stations, but it could count on only seven primary stations – its three owned-and-operated stations ("O&Os"), plus WGN-TV in Chicago, KTTV (channel 11) in Los Angeles, KFEL-TV (channel 2, now KWGN-TV) in Denver, and WTVN-TV (channel 6, now WSYX) in Columbus, Ohio. In contrast, by 1953 ABC had a full complement of five O&Os, augmented by nine primary affiliates.Jajkowski, S. (2005)
Chicago Television: My Afternoon With Red
. Retrieved on January 6, 2007.
ABC also had a radio network (it was descended from NBC's Blue Network) from which to draw talent, affiliate loyalty, and generate income to subsidize television operations. However, ABC had only 14 primary stations, while CBS and NBC had over 40 each. By 1951, ABC was badly overextended and on the verge of bankruptcy.Goldenson, Leonard H. and Wolf, Marvin J. (1991). ''Beating the Odds''. Charles Scribner's Sons . pp 114–115 That year, the company announced a merger with United Paramount Theaters (UPT) (the former theater division of Paramount Pictures, which was spun off as a result of the ''United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.'' antitrust decision), but it was not until 1953 that the FCC approved the merger. By this time, DuMont had begun to product differentiation, differentiate itself from NBC and CBS. It allowed its advertisers to choose the locations where their advertising ran, potentially saving them millions of dollars. By contrast, ABC operated like CBS and NBC even though it was only a quarter the size, forcing advertisers to purchase a large "must-buy" list of stations.Bergmann, Ted; Skutch, Ira (2002). ''The DuMont Television Network: What Happened?'', pp. 69–70. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002. . ABC's fortunes were dramatically altered in February 1953, when the FCC cleared the way for UPT to buy the network. The merger provided ABC with a badly needed cash infusion, giving it the resources to mount "top shelf" programming and to provide a national television service on a scale approaching that of CBS and NBC.Jajkowski, S. (2005)
"Flashback: The 50th Anniversary of ABC"
. Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Through UPT president Leonard Goldenson, ABC also gained ties with the Hollywood studios that more than matched those DuMont's producers had with Broadway. DuMont officials soon realized that ABC now had more resources than DuMont could even hope to match. Under the circumstances, DuMont officials were receptive to a merger offer from ABC. Goldenson quickly brokered a deal with Ted Bergmann, DuMont's managing director, under which the merged network would have been called "ABC-DuMont" until at least 1958 and would have honored all of DuMont's network commitments. In return, DuMont would get $5 million in cash, guaranteed advertising time for DuMont sets and a secure future for its staff.Bergmann, Ted; Skutch, Ira (2002). ''The DuMont Television Network: What Happened?'', pp. 79–83. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002. . A merged ABC-DuMont would have been a colossus rivaling CBS and NBC, as it would have owned stations in five of the six largest U.S. television markets (excluding only Philadelphia) as well as ABC's radio network. It also would have inherited DuMont's de facto monopoly in Pittsburgh and would have been one of two networks to have full ownership of a station in the nation's capital (the other being NBC). However, it would have had to sell a New York station – either DuMont's WABD or ABC flagship WJZ-TV (channel 7, now WABC-TV), probably the former. It also would have had to sell two other stations – most likely ABC's two smallest O&Os, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and KGO-TV in San Francisco (both broadcasting on channel 7) – to get under the FCC's limit of five stations per owner. However, Paramount vetoed the plan almost out of hand due to antitrust concerns. A few months earlier, the FCC had ruled that Paramount controlled DuMont, and there were still some questions about whether UPT had really separated from Paramount. With no other way to readily obtain cash, DuMont sold WDTV to Westinghouse for $9.75 million in late 1954, after Westinghouse decided to give public backing to the public interest groups for the channel 13 allocation in Pittsburgh and helping to form WQED (TV), WQED. While this gave DuMont a short-term cash infusion, it eliminated the leverage the network had to get program clearances in other markets. Without its de facto monopoly in Pittsburgh, the company's advertising revenue shrank to less than half that of 1953. By February 1955, DuMont executives realized the company could not continue as a television network.Bergmann, Ted; Skutch, Ira (2002). ''The DuMont Television Network: What Happened?'', pp. 82–83. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002. . The decision was made to shut down network operations and operate WABD and WTTG as Independent station (North America), independent stations. On April 1, 1955, most of DuMont's entertainment programs were dropped. Bishop Sheen aired his last program on DuMont on April 26 and later moved to ABC.McNeil, Alex (1996). ''Total Television'' (4th ed.), p. 479. New York: Penguin Books. By May, just eight programs were left on the network, with only inexpensive shows and sporting events keeping what was left of the network going through the summer. The network also largely abandoned the use of the intercity network coaxial cable, on which it had spent $3 million in 1954 to transmit shows that mostly lacked station clearance.Bergmann, Ted; Skutch, Ira (2002). ''The DuMont Television Network: What Happened?'', pp. 77–78. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002. . The company only retained network links for live sports programming and utilizing the company's Electronicam process to produce studio-based programming. Ironically, Electronicam is best remembered for being used by Jackie Gleason's producers for the 39-half-hour episodes of ''The Honeymooners'' that aired on CBS during the 1955–56 television season. In August 1955, Paramount, with the help of other stockholders, seized full control of DuMont Laboratories. The last non-sports program on DuMont, the game show ''What's the Story'', aired on September 23, 1955. After that, DuMont's network feed was used only for occasional sporting events. DuMont's last broadcast, Boxing from St. Nicholas Arena, a boxing match, aired on August 6, 1956. (The date has also been reported as September 1955, November 1957 or August 4, 1958.) According to one source, the final program aired on only five stations nationwide. It appears that the boxing show was syndicated to a few other east coast stations until 1958, but likely not as a production of DuMont or its successor company. Likewise, the remains of DuMont were used to syndicate a high school football American football on Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving game in 1957; that telecast, the only DuMont broadcast to have been sent in color, was a personal project of Allen DuMont himself, whose hometown team in Montclair, New Jersey, was contending in the game for a state championship.Tober, Steve (November 20, 2017
Thanksgiving football games a disappearing tradition
. ''NorthJersey.com''. Retrieved November 21, 2017. "The ’57 Thanksgiving game at Foley Field was televised live and in color (both rarities in those early TV days) on Channel 5 via the old Dumont Television Network, which was under the leadership of Dr. Dumont, who – by the way – was a Montclair resident. Also, the late, great Chris Schenkel did the play by play."
DuMont spun off WABD and WTTG as the "DuMont Broadcasting Corporation". The name was later changed to "Metropolitan Broadcasting Company" to distance the company from what was seen as a complete failure.Bergmann, Ted; Skutch, Ira (2002). ''The DuMont Television Network: What Happened?'', p. 85. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002. . In 1958, John Kluge bought Paramount's shares for $4 million, and in 1960 renamed the company Metromedia. WABD became WNEW-TV and later WNYW. WTTG still broadcasts under its original call sign, call letters as a Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox affiliate. For 50 years, DuMont was the only major broadcast television network to cease operations,Ryan, J. (January 24, 2006)
"Exit WB, UPN; Enter the CW"
. ''E! Online News.'' Retrieved on January 6, 2007.
until CBS Corporation and Time Warner merged two other struggling networks, UPN and The WB, in September 2006, to create The CW, The CW Television Network – whose schedule was originally composed largely of programs from both of its predecessor networks.

Failed revival of the DuMont brand

On February 22, 2018, Lightning One, Inc., owned by Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan, filed a U.S. trademark application for "The Dumont Network." The application by Lightning One was very likely associated with its ownership of the "National Wrestling Alliance" trademark, the moniker of one of the oldest wrestling promotions in the United States. However, according to the registration filing, the trademark for "The Dumont Network" as owned by Lightning One was allowed to lapse on July 2, 2020, rendering the trademark dead.

Fate of the DuMont stations

All three DuMont-owned stations are still operating and coincidentally, all three are owned-and-operated stations of their respective networks, just as when they were part of DuMont. Of the three, only Washington's WTTG still has its original call letters. WTTG and New York's WABD (later WNEW-TV, and now WNYW) survived as Metromedia-owned independents until 1986, when they were purchased by the News Corporation to form the nucleus of the new Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox television network. Clarke Ingram, who maintained a DuMont memorial site, has suggested that Fox can be considered a revival, or at least a linear descendant, of DuMont.Clarke Ingram, Ingram, C. (2002)
DuMont Television Network Historical Web Site
. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
Westinghouse changed WDTV's call letters to KDKA-TV after the KDKA (AM), pioneering radio station of the same name, and switched its primary affiliation to immediately after the sale. Westinghouse's acquisition of CBS in 1995 made KDKA-TV a CBS owned-and-operated station.

DuMont programming library

DuMont produced more than 20,000 television episodes during the decade from 1946 to 1956. Because the shows were created prior to the launch of Ampex's electronic videotape recorder in late 1956, all of them were initially broadcast live in black and white, then recorded on film kinescope for reruns and for West Coast rebroadcasts. By the early 1970s, their vast library of 35mm movie film, 35mm and 16 mm film, 16mm kinescopes eventually wound up in the hands of "a successor network," who reportedly disposed of all of them in New York City's East River to make room for more recent-vintage videotapes in a warehouse. Although recovery of films that have been submerged for decades has been done (see ''The Carpet from Bagdad'' as an example), to date, there have been no wreck diving, salvage-diving efforts to locate or recover the DuMont archive that reportedly sits in the East River, and if it survived in that environment, most of the films were likely damaged. Other kinescopes were put through a silver reclaiming process, because of the microscopic amounts of silver that made up the emulsion of black-and-white film during this time. It is estimated that only about 350 complete DuMont television shows survive today, the most famous being virtually all of
Jackie Gleason Jackie or Jacky may refer to: People and fictional characters * Jackie (given name) Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie or Jacky is a given name or nickname for both males and females, originally a pet form of Jack (given name), Jack, John (given name ...
's ''Honeymooners'' comedy sketches. Most of the existing episodes are believed to have come from the personal archives of DuMont's hosts, such as Gleason and Dennis James.


At its peak in 1954, DuMont was affiliated with around 200 television stations.Corarito, Gregory (1967)
Tulsa TV History Thesis — KCEB
. Retrieved on December 28, 2006.
In those days, television stations were free to "cherry-pick" which programs they would air, and many stations affiliated with multiple networks, depending mainly on the number of commercial television stations available in a market at a given time (markets where only one commercial station was available carried programming from all four major networks). Many of DuMont's "affiliates" carried very little DuMont programming, choosing to air one or two more popular programs (such as ''Life Is Worth Living'') and/or sports programming on the weekends. Few stations carried the full DuMont program lineup. For example, the promising WKLO-TV (UHF Ch. 21) in the growing Louisville, Kentucky/Indiana market had to split its time between DuMont and ABC-TV. The station lasted only seven months (September 1953 – April 1954) on the air. In its later years, DuMont was carried mostly on poorly watched UHF channels or had only secondary affiliations on VHF stations. DuMont ended most operations on April 1, 1955, but honored network commitments until August 1956.

See also

* Electronicam * Fourth television network * Golden Age of Television * List of programs broadcast by the DuMont Television Network, List of DuMont programs * List of surviving DuMont Television Network broadcasts * List of former DuMont Television Network affiliates * NFL on DuMont * NTA Film Network * ''Passaic: Birthplace of Television and the DuMont Story'' (1951 TV special on history of DuMont) * Wiping



* * * * * *


External links

Clarke Ingram's DuMont Television Network Historical Website

The "Golden Telecruiser" Historic Pictures

List of DuMont programs at the Internet Movie Database


* Kinescopes of DuMont Network programs, from the Internet Archive
''The Adventures of Ellery Queen''''Captain Video and His Video Rangers''''Cavalcade of Stars''''Life Is Worth Living''''Miss U.S. Television 1950 Contest''''The Morey Amsterdam Show''''The Old American Barn Dance''''Okay Mother'' ''On Your Way''''Public Prosecutor''''Rocky King — Detective''''School House''''They Stand Accused''
A DuMont Network identification
{{DEFAULTSORT:Dumont Television Network DuMont Television Network, Television channels and stations established in 1946 1956 disestablishments in the United States Defunct television networks in the United States Lost television shows, * 1946 establishments in the United States Television channels and stations disestablished in 1956