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Columbia Broadcasting System

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The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) is a major radio and television network in the USA. CBS was one of the three commercial television networks that dominated broadcasting in the United States before the rise of cable television. It is today owned by Viacom.

Early years

What became CBS was founded in 1927 as a joint venture by Columbia Records and New York City talent agent Arthur Judson[?]. It originally went on the air on September 18 1927 as The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System with 47 radio stations. This radio network lost money in its first year, and on January 18, 1929 Columbia Records sold out its interests in the radio network to a group of private investors for US$400,000, headed by William Paley, a Philadelphia cigar manufacturer. The radio network was renamed The Columbia Broadcasting System. For the next nine years Columbia Records and CBS were independent unrelated companies.

This third radio network soon had more affiliates than either of the NBC networks, though the signals were weaker than NBC Red. (The NBC Red and CBS radio networks are now both part of Westwood One[?], a unit of Infinity Broadcasting[?], owned by Viacom, which also owns CBS Television.)

Founder Paley saw an opportunity to win audiences through news programming, and spent substantial amounts of money to achieve dominance in that area. He hired Edward R. Murrow as "Director of Talks" as part of this effort. Together with William L. Shirer, Murrow practically invented broadcast journalism as we know it today.

In 1938 radio was a major force in entertainment while the record industry was still in the doldrums from the Great Depression, and CBS purchased its former parent company Columbia Records.

CBS first broadcast telvision in 1939, with 1 hour of programing per day in New York City. CBS made the first color broadcasts the following year, but using technology incompatable with existing black-and-white television which would be rejected by the FCC a few years later in favor of competing a color television standard developed by RCA. Television would remain a minor part of CBS until after World War II.

Since the outset of the television era, its logo has been an unwinking eye. (Elements of the CBS eye logo later inspired the logo for Lew Grade[?]'s British television company, ATV.) From the 1940s until the 1970s, CBS was considered the most prestigious of the three major television networks and as a result was known as the tiffany network. CBS's dominance was broken in the 1970s by ABC.

In 1988, CBS sold the CBS Records Group to Sony, which renamed the group Sony Music Entertainment.

In 2001, CBS had a major falling out with one of its news personnel who alleged a pattern of bias in reporting (see Bias).

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