MGM Entertainment is an American commercial broadcast network that is a flagship property of WarnerMGM Communications Co., a subsidiary of the Orange Roof Corporation. The network is headquartered in Culver City, California on West Washington Boulevard, just across the street from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio lot. But the network's second corporate headquarters and news headquarters remains at the former flagship store of Bonwit Teller at Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, New York, and its television center is based at New York City, New York at the Elysee Theatre on 58th Street.
The network also has a radio station, called MGM Radio, also based at the Elysee Theatre. The fourth network in the Big Five television networks, MGM launched on August 1, 1976, following in the footsteps of the Big Three, and has become the most successful attempt at a fourth network. It has thirteen owned-and-operated and over 245 affiliated television stations, as well as 23 owned-and-operated radio stations throughout the United States and its territories.
MGM and its affiliated companies operate many entertainment channels in international markets, 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.-based MGM affiliate, either over-the-air or through a pay television provider, although MGM’s NASCAR and National Football League telecasts and most of its prime time programming are subject to simultaneous substitution regulations for cable and satellite providers imposed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to protect rights held by domestically based networks.
The network is named after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MGM’s parent company, and indirectly for producer Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer, who founded three of the movie studio's predecessors, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, Metro Pictures Corporation, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation, respectively. MGM is a member of the North American Broadcasters Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.
MGM Television entered the field with its self-proclaimed fourth network, the MGM Family Network (MFN), on September 9, 1973 with the movie The Yearling on 145 stations. MFN was created to fill the family programming void from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. due to the implementation of the Prime Time Access Rule, using movies from the MGM library scheduled to air on one Sunday every two months. The premiere of MFN registered a 40 rating. MFN broadcast only four times a year in September, January, March and May, and had 14 films assigned to the network from the MGM library.
1970s: Establishment of the network
The MGM network’s foundations were laid on January 31, 1975 through the then-new Orange Roof Corporation’s $75,000,000 purchase of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, just thirty days after its acquisition of the Howard Johnson Company.
In February 1975, Orange Roof Corporation agreed to pay $50 million to acquire independent television stations in seven major U.S. cities from the John Kluge-run broadcasting company Metromedia: WNEW-TV in New York City, WTTG in Washington, D.C., KTTV in Los Angeles, WCVB-TV in Boston, KRIV-TV in Houston, WFLD-TV in Chicago, and KRLD-TV in Dallas.
Because Metromedia (originally known as Metropolitan Broadcasting at its founding) was spun off from the failed DuMont Television Network, radio personality Clarke Ingram has suggested that the MGM network is a revival or at least a linear descendant of DuMont. The former Metromedia stations WNEW (originally known as WABD) and WTTG were two of the three original owned-and-operated stations of the DuMont network, and that the former base of DuMont's operations, the DuMont Tele-Centre in Manhattan, eventually became the present-day MGM Broadcast Center.
Beginning of the network
In February 1975, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced its intentions to form a fourth television network that would compete with ABC, CBS, and NBC. The plans were to use the combination of the MGM 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. The network was approved by the FCC in March 1976. Owner Trevor J. Simpson then sent advertisements to magazines proclaiming the network’s beginning, and bought billboards to promote its new shows.
MGM debuted with a soft launch on August 1, 1976 with an airing of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The network had its "grand opening" the next day for the 1976-77 television season. Its inaugural programs were a revival of Supermarket Sweep, followed by the fifth season of The Price is Right, which moved over from CBS, along with the sitcom The Schmidts, and the soap opera Horace's. Its Saturday morning cartoon lineup consisted of an animated revival of My Mother the Car, and Cases of Team Terry, and its late night lineup featured the talk show The George Carlin Show.
With the network's success, MGM added sports telecasts in 1977, including NASCAR, NFL, and MLB events, and signed an exclusive long-term deal to broadcast the Summer Olympics. The 1977-78 season was heralded as a breakout season, with many of the network's programs dominating the ratings.
The network became even more successful in the 1980s; shows like