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  • Briefly abbreviated "FBC
  • Très brièvement abrégé « FBC
  • FBC

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Fox Broadcasting Company (1986)

"So Bold, So Brash, So Fox"

Type :  

  Summary  

Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as the Fox Network or simply Fox , is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Launched on October 9, 1986, Fox was the highest-rated broadcast network in the 18–49 demographic from 2004 to 2009. In the 2007–08 season, Fox became the most popular network in America in household ratings for the first time in its history, replacing CBS. CBS took back the top spot in the 2008–09 season.

The Fox Broadcasting Company and its affiliates operate many entertainment channels internationally, although these do not necessarily air the same programming as the U.S. network. Most viewers in Canada have access to at least one U.S. Fox affiliate, although most of Fox's primetime programming is subject to Canadian simultaneous substitution regulations.

The network is named after sister company 20th Century Fox, and indirectly for producer William Fox, who founded one of the movie studio's predecessors, Fox Film.

  Biography  

20th Century Fox was involved in television production as early as the 1950s. The company produced several syndicated programs during this era. In November 1956, 20th Century-Fox purchased 50% of the NTA Film Network, an early syndicator of films and television programs. Following the demise of the DuMont Television Network, NTA was launched as a new "fourth network". 20th Century-Fox would also produce original content for the NTA Network. The film network effort would fail after a few years, but Fox continued to dabble in television through its production arm, TCF Television Productions, producing series such as Perry Mason for the Big Three television networks.

 1980s: Building a network
Fox network was laid in March 1985 by News Corporation's $250-million purchase of 50 percent of TCF Holdings, the parent company of the 20th Century Fox movie studio. In May 1985, News Corporation agreed to pay $1.55 billion to acquire independent television stations in six major U.S. cities from John Kluge's company, Metromedia. These stations were WNEW-TV in New York City, WTTG in Washington, D.C., KTTV in Los Angeles, KRIV-TV in Houston, WFLD in Chicago, and KRLD in Dallas. A seventh station, WCVB-TV in Boston, was part of the original transaction but was spun off in a separate, concurrent deal to the Hearst Corporation as part of a right of first refusal related to that station's 1982 sale to Metromedia.

In October 1985, 20th Century Fox announced its intentions to form an independent television system, a fourth television network which would compete with the three major U.S. television networks . The plans were to use the combination of the Fox studios and the former Metromedia stations to both produce and distribute programming. Organizational plans for the network were held off until the Metromedia acquisitions cleared regulatory hurdles. Then, in December 1985, Rupert Murdoch agreed to pay $325 million to acquire the rest of the studio from his original partner, Marvin Davis. The purchase of the Metromedia stations was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in March 1986; the New York and Dallas outlets were subsequently renamed WNYW and KDAF respectively. These first six stations, then broadcasting to 22 percent of the nation's households, became known as the Fox Television Stations group.

The network's first program was a late-night talk show, The Late Show, which debuted on October 9, 1986 with Joan Rivers as host. After a strong start, the show quickly eroded in the ratings and by early 1987 Rivers had quit and the show was being hosted by a succession of guest hosts. After that point, some stations which affiliated with the network in the weeks before the April 1987 primetime launch, such as Milwaukee's WCGV-TV, signed affiliation agreements on the condition that they would not have to carry The Late Show due to the program's ratings weakness.

The network debuted in prime time on April 5, 1987, with the series Married... with Children and The Tracey Ullman Show. It added one new show per week over the next several weeks, with the series 21 Jump Street, Mr. President and Duet completing its Sunday schedule. Beginning on July 11, the network rolled out its inaugural Saturday night schedule with a two-hour movie premiere of Werewolf, and over the next three weeks the series The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Karen's Song and Down and Out in Beverly Hills were added. Both Karen's Song and Down and Out in Beverly Hills were canceled by the start of the 1987–88 television season, the network's first fall launch, and were replaced by Second Chance and Women in Prison.

The network had already decided to cancel The Late Show, and had a replacement series called The Wilton North Report in development, when the show began a ratings resurgence with its final guest host, comedian Arsenio Hall. Wilton North lasted just a few weeks, however, and the network was unable to reach a deal with Hall to return when it hurriedly revived The Late Show in early 1988. The show went back to guest hosts again, eventually selecting Ross Shafer as its permanent host, and was permanently canceled by October 1988, while Hall signed a deal with Paramount Television to develop his own syndicated late night talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show.

The network added its third night of programming in the 1989 television season. It gradually added nights of programming over the next few years, airing on all seven nights for the first time in the 1993 television season. The 1989 season also featured a midseason replacement series, The Simpsons; ranked at a three-way tie for 28th place in the Nielsen ratings, it became the first Fox series to break the Top 30.

Unlike the three larger networks, which aired prime time programming from 8 to 11 pm Mondays to Saturdays and 7 to 11 pm Sundays, Fox has traditionally avoided programming the 10 pm hour, leaving that hour to affiliates to program locally. The network did schedule programming in the 10 pm hour on Sunday nights between 1989 and 1992, but never added 10 pm programming on any other night.

Except for KDAF , all the original stations are still part of the Fox network today. Clarke Ingram, who maintains a memorial website to the failed DuMont Television Network, has suggested that Fox is a revival or at least a linear descendant of DuMont, since Metromedia was spun off from DuMont and Metromedia's television stations formed the nucleus of the Fox network. WNYW and WTTG were two of the three original owned-and-operated stations of the DuMont network.

Fox is a full member of the North American Broadcasters Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.

 1990s: Rise into mainstream success
Fox survived where DuMont and other attempts to start a fourth network failed because it programmed just under the number of hours to be legally considered a network by the FCC. This allowed Fox to make money in ways forbidden to the established networks, since during its first years it was considered to be merely a large group of stations. By comparison, DuMont was hampered by numerous regulatory roadblocks, most notably a ban on acquiring more stations since its minority owner, Paramount Pictures owned two television stations. Combined with DuMont's three television stations, this put DuMont at the legal limit at the time. Also, Murdoch was more than willing to open his wallet to get and keep programming and talent. DuMont, in contrast, operated on a shoestring budget and was unable to keep the programs and stars it had. Most of the other startup networks followed this model as well.

Although Fox was growing rapidly as a network and had established itself as a presence, it was still not considered a major competitor to the big three broadcast networks . Until the early 1990s, most Fox stations were still essentially independents. The network did not have significant market share until the mid-1990s, when News Corp. bought more station groups. The first was New World Communications, which had signed an affiliation deal with Fox in 1994. Later, in 2001, Fox bought several stations owned by Chris-Craft Industries and its subsidiaries BHC Communications and United Television (most of these were UPN affiliates, although one later became a Fox O&O). This made Fox one of the largest owners of television stations in the United States.

This all changed when Fox lured the National Football League away from CBS in 1993. They signed a huge contract to broadcast the NFC, which included luring Pat Summerall, John Madden, Dick Stockton, Matt Millen, James Brown, and Terry Bradshaw (as well as many behind-the-scenes production personnel) from CBS Sports as well. The NFC deal, in fact, was the impetus for the affiliation deal with New World; many of New World's stations were longstanding CBS affiliates. After acquiring the NFL rights, Fox was on the map for good.

The early and mid-1990s saw the launch of several soap-opera dramas aimed at younger audiences that became quick hits: Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place; New York Undercover; and Party of Five. September 1993 saw the heavy promotion and debut of a short-lived Western with science-fiction elements, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. However, it was the Friday night show that debuted immediately following it, The X-Files, which would find long-lasting success, and would be Fox's first series to crack Nielsen's year-end Top 20.

The sketch-comedy series In Living Color created many memorable characters (and launched the careers of future movie stars Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Damon Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and "Fly Girl" dancer Jennifer Lopez).

MADtv, another sketch-comedy series that debuted in 1995, became a solid competitor to NBC's Saturday Night Live for over a decade and the most successful show on Saturday nights. Madtv ended in 2009.

Fox would expand to a full week's worth of programming in 1993, which included scheduling the breakout hit The Simpsons opposite NBC's The Cosby Show as one of Fox's initial Thursday night offerings in the fall of 1990 after only a half-season of success on Sunday nights. The show performed well in its new Thursday night slot, spending four seasons there and helping to launch Martin, another Fox hit in 1992. The Simpsons returned to Sunday nights in the fall of 1994, and has been there since.

An attempt to make a larger effort to program Saturday nights by moving Married...with Children, Martin and two other long-forgotten new sitcoms to the night at the beginning of the 1996–97 season backfired with the public as it resulted in a short cancellation of America's Most Wanted that was criticized by law enforcement and public officials, and roundly rejected by the viewing public, which brought swift cancellation to the newer series, and Married... and Martin quickly returned to their previous nights. Two months later a revised schedule featuring a new and encore episode of COPS, and the revived America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back was launched. Cops and AMW had for many years remained the anchors of the network's Saturday schedule, making it the most stable night in American broadcast television for over 14 years. America's Most Wanted ended it's 23 year run on Fox in June 2011.

Notable shows that debuted in the late 1990s include the quirky dramedy Ally McBeal and traditional sitcom That '70s Show, Fox's second-longest-running live-action sitcom behind Married... with Children. By the 1997–98 season, Fox had 3 shows in the Nielsen Top 20, The X-Files which ranked 11th, King of the Hill which ranked 15th, and The Simpsons which ranked 17th.

Building around its flagship The Simpsons, Fox has been relatively successful with animated shows. King of the Hill began in 1997; Family Guy and Futurama began in 1999 and were canceled in 2002 and 2003, respectively. However, the network commissioned new episodes of Family Guy that began in 2005 due to strong DVD sales and highly rated cable reruns on Adult Swim of Cartoon Network. Futurama would be revived with four direct-to-DVD films between 2007–2009 and would return as a series in 2010 on Comedy Central. Less successful efforts included The Critic, which starred Jon Lovitz from Saturday Night Live , and The PJs, .

Throughout the 1990s, Fox launched its set of cable channels – FX, Fox News Channel, FXM , a controlling interest in the Fox Sports Net regional sports networks, Speed Channel, Fox Sports World , and Fox Sports en Espanol .

 2000s
Many Fox staple shows of the 1990s had ended. During this time, Fox put much of its efforts into producing reality fare such as Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, Temptation Island, Married by America and Joe Millionaire, as well as video clips shows such as World's Wildest Police Videos and When Animals Attack!

After shedding most of these shows, Fox filled its lineup with acclaimed dramas such as 24, The O.C., House and Bones, and comedies such as The Bernie Mac Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and Arrested Development. By 2005, Fox's most popular show by far was the talent search American Idol, peaking at up to 37 million viewers on certain episodes and being the nation's highest-rated program in the 2004–05 season. House, airing after Idol on Tuesday nights and having had a successful run of summer repeats in 2005, positioned itself as a top-ten hit in the 2005–06 season.

Fox hit a milestone in February 2005 by scoring its first-ever sweeps victory among all viewers. This was largely due to the broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIX, but also on the strength of American Idol, 24, House, and The O.C. By the end of the 2004–05 television season, Fox ranked No. 1 for the first time in its history among the 18–49 demographic most appealing to advertisers. Another milestone came on May 21, 2008, Fox took the No.1 general households rating crown for the first time, based on the strength of Super Bowl XLII and American Idol.

Near the end of the 2000s, Fox launched a few series that proved to be powerful hits in different respects. In 2008, Fringe debuted to high ratings and critical acclaim during its first season on Tuesdays; though its viewership declined through its run, the series has helped to reverse Fox's dwindling fortunes on Friday nights. In 2009, Fox launched Glee to average ratings but positive reception from critics. Ratings picked up during the first season, and the show has been met with such media attention that it has formed a large loyal fanbase. The cast of the series has been acknowledged by notable people such as the President of the United States Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, who have each asked the cast to perform live for numerous national events. At the close of the decade, new comedies Raising Hope and New Girl gave Fox its first ratings successes in live-action comedy in years.

It was estimated in 2003 that Fox was viewable by 96.18% of all U.S. households, reaching a total of 102,565,710 houses in the United States. Fox has 180 VHF and UHF owned-and-operated or affiliate stations in the United States and U.S. possessions.

Analog broadcasting on Fox largely ended on June 12, 2009 as part of the transition to digital television.

As a newer broadcast network, Fox still has a number of low-power television affiliates, covering markets like Youngstown, Ohio and Santa Barbara, California , broadcasting in analog format. In some cases, including both of these markets, these stations also have digital signals on the digital subchannel of a sister television station in the same market.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Fox Broadcasting Company", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.