[Broadcasting WI] - Impact of a DuMont / Mutual Merger?

For those unaware, the DuMont Network and Mutual Broadcasting were the original underdogs of television and radio broadcasting respectively. DuMont was the original 4th Television Network, competing against the likes of ABC, CBS and NBC with strongholds in city markets like New York, Pittsburgh and Washington. Meanwhile Mutual Broadcasting was the radio underdog that while having the largest number of affiliates had the least money to show for it, leaving it in the dust when the other big radio networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) went hard into television expansion after World War 2.

Both companies lost the fight around the same time (1956 / 1957), and went on to be memories in the history of broadcasting. But suppose that they'd reached out to each other at some point realizing their situations and undertook a merger to make their respective fields all that much stronger? Would it have made a difference? Would it have only killed them quicker?
 
Going to guess the merger would mean a survival (for convenience, let's call the merger the Federal Broadcasting Company, or FBC for short) longer, at least another 15 or 20 years. You'd see cities like Washington with a TV outlet for each of the four networks (channel 4, NBC; channel 5, FBC; channel 7, ABC; channel 9, CBS); probably in cities like that, the signal of the FBC outlet would have the maximum power allowed and would have a signal aimed at a market that didn't have an FBC station (in the case of Washington, channel 5 would have a strong Baltimore-aimed signal).

Guessing also that FBC would move into areas not previously equipped with commercial TV: a case in point was Wilmington, DE. That city was assigned channel 12, and briefly had a commercial TV station (WDEL-TV) but couldn't make a go of it. Perhaps a revival or a new station (let's call it WDIA for "Diamond State") under FBC auspices would bring commercial TV to Delaware. Might also be able to do the same for New Jersey--say, a station in Trenton. That would put commercial TV into all the continental states.

FBC might also be the first to go for nationwide sports broadcasting: the winter niche sports of the NHL and NBA could have been broadcast on FBC stations, leading to earlier expansion.
 
That would solve the problem of Dumont having to pay some of the same transmission rates as the others (NBC, CBS, ABC) paid for both radio and TV. The real problem was the way VHF TV channels were distributed by population. Only a handful of markets in the Eastern and Central time zones had four commercial VHF channels. TV sets were not required to tune UHF until 1963. So, to solve the problem, require TV sets to tune UHF before the television market explosion after 1953. Then, allocate VHF channels in groups of six: mostly even, 2,4,5,8,10,12 and mostly odd, 3,6,7,9,11,13. Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Tulsa and Kansas City would get the even package. Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Cedar Rapids, Columbia MO, Omaha and Oklahoma City would get odd. Markets in between would be all-UHF. Two problems come up. Markets as small as Columbia-Jefferson City could not possibly support that many stations, especially with the labor-intense broadcast technology of the fifties and sixties. The UHF markets would be burdened with very high transmission costs, as UHF requires much more power. The current system assured valuable VHF channels would not go unused, but encumbered a third network (ABC) and drove the fourth (Dumont) into extinction.
 
Last edited:
But suppose that they'd reached out to each other at some point realizing their situations and undertook a merger to make their respective fields all that much stronger? Would it have made a difference? Would it have only killed them quicker?
Problem still is the limited number of channels.

Almost need two PoDs, the Merger, and in 1948 that the FCC sees a larger growth in Television Stations, and keep the VHF Band in its WWII format, with 'Low' VHF at 50-108Mhz for Channels 1 to 7, 'High' VHF at 162-294Mhz for Channels 8 to 18, with FM Radio stuck between 7 and 8. UHF Channels of 70-83 are never used for Television, and UHF channels start at 20

FCC did a lot of frequency juggling from 1938 to 1948
 
Actually, from what I'm aware of, if things had gone differently back in the 1950s, the DuMont Television Network & Mutual Broadcasting System wouldn't have merged to form the "Federal Broadcasting Company" (FBC), much to some people's belief.

If anything, since Mutual was owned/controlled by General Tire's General Teleradio subsidiary at that point, it's more likely than not that, if General Tire had known about DuMont preparing to shut down his namesake TV network, General Teleradio would have purchased the TV network & the stations that aired/carried it from DuMont and his company.

Now, I'll say I'm not completely sure whether General Teleradio would have kept the DuMont branding, or if they would have re-branded it to "Mutual Television" (utilizing the branding that WOR-TV & WOIC had used on their letterheads towards the late 1950s).

But, if anything, in the end, I highly doubt that DuMont and Mutual would have merged. There would have been no reason to.

Simply put: under General Teleradio's ownership, either the DuMont branding would have lived on as a TV broadcaster alongside Mutual as a radio broadcaster, or it would have been dropped in favor of the aforementioned Mutual Television branding.
 
Top