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TVWeek Flashback: What Was New in ’82

Apr 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

A look back at the headlines from 25 years ago proves the old saw about television being a cyclical business. And history can provide insight into the future. So leading up to TelevisionWeek’s commemorative silver-anniversary issue on May 21, we’re reviewing the biggest headlines from a quarter-century ago.

Established companies were coming to terms with the emergence of pay television:
Viacom Buying Out Rest of Pay Network
Aug. 26, 1982: As expected, Viacom International has bought out its partner, Group W Cable, becoming the sole owner of Showtime, the premium pay TV service. Viacom paid more than $75 million for Group W’s 50 percent interest. …

The old guard was changing over to a new set of executives:
Paley Steps Down But Stays Close
April 28, 1982: William S. Paley, 81, made a brief farewell speech as chairman of CBS Inc. last week at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in St. Louis. …

Networks were getting reminders that talent is worth paying for:
Tinker Eats Words on Carson Contract
Sept. 2, 1982: Just a year ago, when [NBC Chairman] Grant Tinker moved from a lofty production post to the top network slot, he was quoted as saying he never would have agreed to the generous terms of [Johnny] Carson’s current pact. Mr. Tinker’s predecessor, Fred Silverman, promised Mr. Carson an annual salary of at least $5 million, 15 weeks vacation, 25 three-day work weeks, 12 four-day work weeks and a place for some of his production company’s new prime-time projects in the NBC schedule. …

The syndication industry was bracing for changes that would shake its foundations:
Syndie Battle Moving to Congress
Aug. 11, 1983: The Committee for Prudent Deregulation will meet Aug. 18 in Los Angeles to seek ways to persuade Congress to keep ABC, CBS and NBC out of the TV syndication business. …

The move toward diversity on the airwaves was stirring:
Women Anchors Foresee Benefits From Craft Suit
Aug. 11, 1983: Christine Craft’s $1.2 million [sexism- and ageism-based breach-of-contract] suit against Metromedia and KMBC-TV in Kansas City may be beneficial to women news anchors, according to some of the country’s most prominent female anchors. …

Emerging means of TV distribution were elbowing in for a seat at the table:
Cable Spurs First Upfront Spot Buying
Aug. 11, 1983: As the three broadcast networks end their multibillion-dollar upfront buying bash, several cable TV networks are aggressively campaigning for their own spots in the annual budgets of major TV advertisers. …