The company arose from the ashes of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first licensed commercial television network. By 1955, DuMont realized it could not compete against CBS, NBC and a revived ABC, and decided to shut down network operations. Soon after DuMont formally shut down network operations in 1956, it spun-off its two remaining owned and operated stations, WABD in New York City and WTTG in Washington, D.C., to shareholders as the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation. In 1957, DuMont Broadcasting changed its name to the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation to distance itself from the failure associated with DuMont. The company's headquarters were co-located with WABD in the former DuMont Tele-Centre (which was later renamed the Metromedia Telecenter) in New York.
In 1958, DuMont's namesake, Dr. Allen B. DuMont, sold his shares in Metropolitan Broadcasting to Washington-based investor John Kluge, who installed himself as the company's chairman with a 75-percent controlling interest. Kluge then merged his two New York radio stations, WNEW-AM-FM, into the company, and changed WABD's calls to WNEW-TV to match its new radio sisters. Kluge's first acquisitions included WHK-AM-FM in Cleveland (in 1958); KOVR in Stockton, California, WTVH-TV (now WHOI) in Peoria, Illinois, and the Foster & Kleiser outdoor advertising firm (all in 1959); and WIP-AM-FM in Philadelphia and WTVP television (now WAND) in Decatur, Illinois (both in 1960). In 1961, Kluge changed the company's name to Metromedia. Also in 1961, Metromedia purchased KMBC-AM-FM-TV in Kansas City, Missouri. In separate 1963 deals the company expanded into Los Angeles, buying first KTTV, and later KLAC and KLAC-FM (later KMET and now KTWV). Metromedia also entered the realm of live entertainment by purchasing the Ice Capades (in 1963) and the Harlem Globetrotters (in 1967). Later in the decade Metromedia opened a television production center in Los Angeles, known as Metromedia Square, which served as the studio facility for numerous network programs. Metromedia also owned a TV production and distribution company called Metromedia Producers Corporation (MPC), established in 1968 from Wolper Productions. MPC produced and syndicated various programs and TV movies, most notably the game show Truth or Consequences and the 1972-84 version of The Merv Griffin Show.
Metromedia spent the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s increasing its television and radio station portfolio, and continued to expand its syndication business. They entered the record business in 1969 when they launched the Metromedia Records label, whose biggest-selling artist was Bobby Sherman; but the label went out of business by 1974. In 1982 Metromedia made its biggest broadcasting purchase when it acquired WCVB-TV in Boston for $220 million, which at the time was the largest amount ever spent on a single television station property. Two years later, John Kluge bought out Metromedia's shareholders and took the company private.
On May 6, 1985, Kluge announced the sale of Metromedia's television stations, and Metromedia Producers Corp., to the News Corporation (owned by Australian newspaper publisher Rupert Murdoch) and 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (owned jointly by Murdoch and Marvin Davis) for $3.5 billion. With the exception of WCVB-TV (which was subsequently sold to the Hearst Corporation), all of the former Metromedia stations formed the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company, while MPC was folded into 20th Century Fox Television. The transactions became official on March 6, 1986. Kluge also sold Metromedia's outdoor advertising firm, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the Ice Capades in that same year, and spun-off the radio stations into a separate company (which ironically took on the Metropolitan Broadcasting name) before they were sold to various other owners by the early 1990s.
The Metromedia name has lived on in other projects by Kluge such as the Metromedia Restaurant Group, though the ventures have been largely unrelated to television. When Kluge bought into Major League Soccer in 1995, the club he operated was named MetroStars (now Red Bull New York) after his company.
Based on the common link to Metromedia, television historian Clarke Ingram claims that Fox is a direct descendant, if not a revival, of DuMont. Indeed, the former WNEW-TV, now Fox flagship WNYW, is still headquartered in the former Metromedia Telecenter, now known as the Fox Television Center.
|DMA#||City of license/Market||Station|| Channel|
TV / DT
|Years owned||Current affiliation and ownership|
|1.||New York City|| WABD/WNEW-TV|
|5 / 44||1956-1986||Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|2.||Los Angeles||KTTV||11 / 65||1963-1986||Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|3.||Chicago||WFLD-TV||32 / 31||1983-1986||Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|5.||Dallas - Fort Worth|| KRLD-TV|
|33 / 32||1983-1986||CW affiliate owned by Tribune Company|
|6.||San Francisco - Oakland - San Jose|| KNEW-TV|
|32 / 33||1968-1970|| Non-commercial independent|
owned by Minority Television Project
|7.||Boston||WCVB-TV||5 / 20||1982-1986||ABC affiliate owned by Hearst-Argyle Television|
|9.||Washington, D.C.||WTTG||5 / 36||1956-1986||Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|10.||Houston||KRIV-TV||26 / 27||1978-1986||Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|15.||Minneapolis - St. Paul|| WTCN-TV|
|11 / 35||1972-1983||NBC affiliate owned by Gannett Company|
|20.||Stockton - Sacramento, CA||KOVR||13 / 25||1959-1964||CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)|
|31.||Kansas City, Missouri||KMBC-TV||9 / 7||1961-1982||ABC affiliate owned by Hearst-Argyle Television|
|34.||Newport, KY - Cincinnati||WXIX-TV||19 / 29||1972-1983||Fox affiliate owned by Raycom Media|
|83.||Decatur - Springfield -|
Champaign - Urbana, IL
|17 / 18||1960-1965||NBC affiliate owned by Block Communications|
|116.||Peoria - Bloomington, IL|| WTVH-TV|
|19 / 40||1959-1965||ABC affiliate owned by Barrington Broadcasting|
|AM Stations||FM Stations|
|1.||New York City|| WNEW-FM-102.7|
|2.||Los Angeles|| KLAC-FM/KMET-94.7|
|KLAC-570||Clear Channel Communications|
|Clear Channel Communications|
|4.||San Francisco|| KSAN-FM-94.9|
|Clear Channel Communications|
|KNEW-910||Clear Channel Communications|
|5.||Dallas - Fort Worth|| KAFM-92.5|
|Clear Channel Communications|
|9.||Washington, D.C.||WASH-97.1||Clear Channel Communications|
|14.||Seattle - Tacoma||KJR-950||Clear Channel Communications|
|19.||Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater|| WWBA-FM-107.3|
|WCBM-680||WCBM Maryland Inc.|
|22.||Denver - Boulder||KHOW-630||Clear Channel Communications|
|28.||Cleveland||WHK-FM/WMMS-100.7||Clear Channel Communications|
|32.||Kansas City, Missouri|| KMBC-FM-99.7|
* -- MPC was the international distributor for these programs. Distribution was later transferred to 20th Century Fox Television, following Murdoch's acquisition of MPC. These programs ane now distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures Television. In the United States, Sony Pictures Television and its predecessor, Columbia Pictures Television, was always the distributor of syndicated repeats of these programs.