Thursday, March 26, 2015

The DuMont Network

One of the earliest television broadcasters was the DuMont Network. Founded by DuMont Laboratories which manufactured televisions, the network was created as a ploy to sell televisions. Despite this, the company put a lot of effort into its programming, often besting its competitors by notching more firsts under its belt.

DuMont was the first network that broadcast a program halfway across the country, the first to have shows fronted by Asian and African Americans and the first to produce a made for TV Film. Before he moved his show to CBS, Jackie Gleason's show Cavalcade of Stars aired on DuMont. The television network created an advertising model that is still used by the other networks today, though it was only used by DuMont at the time.

Unfortunately, since DuMont didn't begin with a radio network like ABC, NBC or CBS, it was unable to weather the lean early years of television. The other three networks could take their radio profits and plow them into television. DuMont had no such luxuries and couldn't hang on. It folded in 1956, just ten years after its founding. To add insult to injury, the network's archived kinescopes of its early programs were mostly destroyed in the 1970's, thrown out like useless garbage. Few DuMont programs still exist, lost to the ages and shortsighted archivists.