Columbia Broadcasting System

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Columbia Broadcasting System

legal form subsidiary
founding 1927
Seat New York City
Branch Media, entertainment

Columbia Broadcasting System ( CBS ) is one of the largest radio - and television - Networks of USA . CBS was one of three commercial television companies that dominated television before cable television was introduced. Today the company belongs to ViacomCBS . Headquarters is in New York City .

Company history

CBS was founded in 1927 as a joint venture between Columbia Records and New York talent agency Arthur Judson . It went on air on September 18, 1927 with 47 radio stations called The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System .

The radio network lost its first year, and on January 18, 1929, Columbia Records sold its shares to a private group of investors for $ 400,000. The group of investors was led by William Samuel Paley , a Philadelphia cigar maker . The station was renamed The Columbia Broadcasting System . For the next nine years, Columbia Records and CBS were independent, unrelated companies. It was the third radio network in the USA and soon had more subscribers than any of the NBC networks, although the signals and thus the reception were weaker than NBC.

Co-founder Paley saw an opportunity to get listeners through news programming and spent significant amounts of money to gain dominance in the field. As part of this effort, he hired Edward R. Murrow as Director of Talks. Together with William L. Shirer , Murrow practically invented broadcast journalism as we know it today, including live reporting in 1940.

In 1938, the radio was the strongest sector in the entertainment industry while the record industry was still in the doldrums of the Great Depression. CBS bought its former parent company Columbia Records. A high point of this era was Orson Welles ' sensational radio play War of the Worlds (1938) with the musical direction of Lud Gluskin , who later became musical director of the company's television division.

CBS first broadcast on television in 1939, with a one-hour program per day in New York City. The following year, CBS aired the first color show, but using technology that was incompatible with the existing black and white televisions. This technology was rejected a few years later in favor of competing color television standards. Television remained a small part of CBS until after World War II .

Old CBS Eye logo

Since the beginning of the television era, the company emblem has been a stylized eye in a circle. From the 1940s to the 1970s, CBS was considered the most prestigious of the three major television networks, and as a result it was known as the Tiffany Network . The dominance of CBS was broken by ABC in the 1970s , although CBS was able to regain its top rating in between (from 1979 to 1984 and again during a period in the early 1990s and early 2000).

CBS Musical Instruments was founded to manufacture, distribute and sell products by Rogers (drums) and Fender (guitars) in addition to numerous musical instruments and music equipment .

In 1988, CBS sold the CBS record division, which has been called Sony Music Entertainment since then , to Sony .

New owners

In 1995 CBS was taken over by Westinghouse Electric , in 2000 CBS (the former Westinghouse Electric Corporation) was bought by the first Viacom.

The decision taken by the management of the first Viacom group to split the group into two companies on January 1, 2006, put CBS at the center of this planning. In the complex division, this was renamed CBS Corporation , which should make it clear that the group was in fact built around CBS. The second, newly created company, however, received the old name and became the second Viacom . This group essentially comprised Paramount Pictures (excluding the television production and distribution Paramount Television ) and MTV Networks (global cable television station).

In the course of its planned IPO, the company sold its traditional radio division CBS Radio to the previously smaller competitor Entercom in February 2017 .

On December 4, 2019, the CBS Corporation and Viacom merged again and formed the new ViacomCBS group , making CBS a subsidiary of this group.

Super Bowl scandal

When Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston ( Texas ) in 2004, the singer tore Justin Timberlake at half-time presentation of the singer Janet Jackson off part of her outfit, which was to see her chest. In the United States, scenes that feature nudity or sex are severely punished as "obscene". CBS was the television broadcaster at the event with its subsidiary MTV and had not censored the scene. As a result, 27 CBS affiliate television stations had to pay a fine of $ 27,500 each, for a total of $ 550,000. That was the highest fine for a defective television broadcast in the United States. In Germany this incident has become known as " Nipplegate ".

After this scandal, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered that all transmissions must be time-shifted or shown "live" at least 5–10 seconds later in order to allow for possible censorship.

David Letterman

David Letterman joined CBS in the early 1990s after giving up Late Night with David Letterman on NBC . Letterman was upset because NBC moderating the Tonight Show to Jay Leno had forgiven. So he accepted the offer from CBS. Letterman's show on NBC was done by Conan O'Brien . When Letterman set foot in the Ed Sullivan Theater studio , CBS entered the golden age of late night shows. Previously, the moderator Pat Sajak (presented Wheel of Fortune , the American wheel of fortune version) had tried an unsuccessful late night talk. Letterman was now in direct competition with his arch rival Jay Leno, who ran parallel on NBC. Letterman paid CBS $ 31,500,000 annually in salary plus merchandising income. That made him the most expensive man on US television.

In addition to the Late Show with David Letterman , Letterman's company Worldwide Pants also produces the program The Late Late Show (initially with Tom Snyder as presenter, then with Craig Kilborn , until 2014 with Craig Ferguson and since then with James Corden ) for CBS.


CBS broadcasts - like ABC and NBC  - mainly at prime time from Monday to Saturday between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) and on Sundays between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. At these times, from September to May, the first broadcasts of “own” programs are broadcast, while during the summer break mainly only reruns or reality programs are shown. CBS broadcasts a morning program from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and a late night show ( The Late Show with Stephen Colbert ) from 11:35 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. This is followed by The Late Late Show with James Corden .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. NYT: CBS accepts bid by Westinghouse , August 2, 1995, renamed CBS Corporation in 1997.
  2. ^ It's Official: CBS Radio, Entercom Will Merge. In: . ( [accessed April 25, 2017]).
  3. Mae Anderson: CBS, Viacom to reunite as media giants bulk up for streaming., August 13, 2019, accessed February 29, 2020 .