CBS Corporation

CBS Corporation

▪ American company
formerly (1928–74)  Columbia Broadcasting System,  or  (1974–97)  CBS Inc.,  

      major American broadcasting company and operator of the CBS national radio and television networks. The company was incorporated in 1927 as United Independent Broadcasters, Inc. Its name was changed a year later to Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., and in 1974 it adopted the name CBS Inc. In 1995 CBS Inc. was bought by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which changed its name in 1997 to the CBS Corporation. Headquarters are in New York City.

      Under the direction of longtime chairman William Paley (Paley, William S.), CBS made media history beginning in the late 1920s. Paley, whose father owned the company that made La Palina cigars, invested in the Columbia Broadcasting System, which was then a small, struggling radio network, in 1928. Realizing that the key to radio's success was large audiences that would attract advertisers, Paley offered programming free to affiliated stations in return for having a certain part of their schedule devoted to sponsored network shows. From 22 stations in 1928, the network grew to 114 stations in a decade.

      Ratings grew during the 1930s with stars such as Phil Harris, Fred Allen, Bing Crosby, and Kate Smith. As television grew more popular during the 1940s, and the appearance of performers became as important as their voices, Paley raided rival NBC, signing up stars such as Amos ‘n' Andy, George Burns and Gracie Allen, and Jack Benny, who proved as popular on television as they had been on radio. In subsequent decades, Ed Sullivan, Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, and newscaster Walter Cronkite were among the personalities who made CBS the most watched television network in the country. CBS remained the dominant network until the late 1970s.

      In 1938 CBS acquired the American Recording Corporation, which later became Columbia Records. Peter Goldmark of CBS laboratories invented high fidelity long-playing records, and the Columbia record label introduced them to the public in 1948.

      In the 1960s and '70s CBS diversified into the production of books, magazines, musical instruments, and toys. But in the years 1985–88 the company sold off all of these other operations and also sold its highly successful record unit, which was bought by the Sony Corporation. Thenceforth CBS concentrated on its core of operations, television and radio broadcasting. In 1995, amid falling television ratings and a decline in the number and quality of affiliate stations, CBS was sold to the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. (Westinghouse Electric Corporation) This firm, which had once been one of the world's largest makers of electrical equipment, converted itself in the 1990s into a media company by the purchase of CBS and other firms. To mark this transformation, Westinghouse in 1997 dropped its own corporate name and assumed the name CBS Corporation.

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Universalium. 2010.