of Independent Television Stations, known as INTV, began 10 November
1972. Its purpose was to promote the needs of local telecasters
throughout the United States that had no network affiliation. At
first, the organization served about 70 stations, mostly located
in large markets, and worked primarily to solve the economic problems
encountered by small stations trying to buy costly shows to fill
their programming schedules. One special effort involved attempts
to both lower the cost and simplify transmission of programs to
non-network stations by means of AT and T's "longlines." When the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deregulated satellite access
to national programming in 1975 this problem was eliminated, and
much of the recent increase in the profitabiltity of independent
television stations can be attributed to reliance on satellite technology.
In this same period the FCC also began to allow more station licenses
and frequencies per market.
One area of
FCC regulation supported by INTV involved the financial interest
and syndication rules. These rules restricted network ownership
and future syndication rights to the programs they broadcast and
gave those rights to the shows' producers. The restrictions created
an aftermarket for network shows which could not be controlled by
ABC, CBS or NBC. With access to satellite distribution independent
stations had easier ways to purchase and receive shows and to reach
new markets. Due to these changes, INTV's number of member stations--and
In the context
of American broadcasting, largely defined by networked stations,
independent stations had three obstacles to overcome. The first
was the ability to obtain programming at a reasonable cost and in
spite of competition from richer affiliate stations in the same
local market. INTV eventually advocated support of the Primetime
Access Rule (PTAR), which strengthened the syndication industry
and made more shows available for independent stations. The PTAR
required an hour each day for local programming and succeeded partially
because of INTV lobbying efforts. With the implementation of this
rule, every type of station, whether network affiliate or independent,
had a scheduling space in which independent producers could place
The second obstacle
was related to advertising, life-blood of the American broadcasting
industries. Independent stations generally provided advertisers
with a "spot" market based on demographics rather than on audience
size. But the advertisers had routinely placed national commercials
with the national programmers who delivered the huge mass audience.
Sponsors were unaware, in some ways, of the profit available from
wooing audience segments defined by shared age, wealth or product
purchasing characteristics. This obstacle was exacerbated in 1970
when Congress banned cigarette advertising on television. This greatly
reduced the advertising revenue available to electronic media and
remaining dollars were keenly sought by all operating stations.
The third obstacle
was the audience itself. Independent stations had to provide viewers
with shows as compelling as network programs. In addition, UHF stations
had to make audiences aware of their very existence and their program
schedules. In 1978, only 91 independent stations aired programming,
but this mushroomed to 321 by the close of 1988. Most of these stations
telecast on newly allocated UHF frequencies with less signal strength
and poorer picture quality than the network affiliates making their
identity problems even more difficult. At first, many independent's
schedules followed a similar format: movies each night during primetime,
network reruns during the day, strong news hours at primetime access
and religious programming on weekends.
1980, INTV's members looked toward the burgeoning cable television
industry as a way to increase both viewership reach and advertising
revenues. Instead, however, cable providers offered new options
for the viewer and actually hurt independent stations in local markets.
Independent stations began legal battles, seeking to require local
cable operators to carry their signal on local systems, an issue
not resolved until 1992.
entire landscape for independent television stations in the United
States changed in 1985 when Rupert Murdoch purchased Twentieth Century
FOX Studios from Marvin Davis. Murdoch appointed Barry Diller, formerly
of ABC Television and Paramount Studios, to head the venture. Diller
believed enough unaffiliated stations existed to support a fourth
television network. Murdoch then purchased the Metromedia Corporation
with its owned independent stations in the largest U.S. cities,
a foundation of that allowed Diller and Murdoch to begin the FOX
Courtesy of INTV
new FOX network satisfied INTV stations' needs for regular access
to relatively inexpensive programming from Hollywood suppliers.
This programming also attracted national advertisements and appealed
to the local audience. In signing its new affiliates FOX recruited
heavily from INTV member stations, and for the next few years, INTV
held its annual conventions in tandem with FOX affiliate meetings
in Los Angeles. These meetings had a profound impact upon the burgeoning
fourth network. At the 1988 meeting, the INTV/FOX affiliates made
FOX change its operations strategy. Instead of seeking the best
producers, who would design programs according to their own tastes
and interests, the network now sought to satisfy its member stations.
The first result was the cancellation of FOX's short-lived late
night replacement show, The Wilton North Report. INTV's leader,
Preston Padden, worked closely with FOX executives to institute
the pro-affiliate change.
INTV made a philosophical break from FOX and began focusing its
service on non-FOX members. As FOX's early a-few-days-a-week schedule
increased, the organization showed signs of becoming a network as
defined by the FCC rather than a conglomeration of truly independent
stations. In 1990, when 30% fewer station members attended the annual
INTV meeting, syndicators began curtailing their presence at the
organization's conventions. As a result, INTV began holding its
conventions in conjunction with NATPE (National Association of Television
Programming Executives), a meeting that attracted far more syndicators
than did the FOX affiliate's meeting. FOX hired Padden away from
INTV to become its senior vice president for affiliate relations
and later, vice president of government relations.
INTV has welcomed the advent of still more new-network-start-up
programming services from Warner Brothers and Paramount studios.
The new arrangements have once again provided greater advertising
revenue and easier program acquisition for the INTV members affiliated
with the new networks. But these affiliations have not lessened
the power or interests of INTV. Currently, association leaders are
looking toward telephone companies for video dialtone possibilities
and as a means for greater audience access to television programming.
of March 1995, only 84 stations in the U.S. had no program provider
affiliation according to David Donovan, vice president of legal
and legislative affairs for INTV. Of the other 301 stations considered
independent, FOX Broadcasting Company had 150 as affiliates, United
Paramount Network had 96, Warner Brothers had 45 and 10 stations
have combined alliances with both FOX and UPN.
John. "Syndex, Must-Carry, Show Costs are Issues Confronting INTV."
In Matelski, Marilyn J. and Thomas, David O., eds., Variety Broadcast-Video
Sourcebook I 1989-1990. Boston: Focal Press, 1990.
Paul. "Campaign to Ballyhoo Free TV Launched at NAB Confab." In
Matelski, Marilyn J. and Thomas, David O., eds., Variety Broadcast-Video
Sourcebook I 1989-1990. Boston: Focal Press, 1990.
Stephen. "Some syndicators cutting back on INTV presence." Broadcasting
(Washington, D.C.), September 3, 1990.
"Raining on INTV's parade." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.),
January 7, 1991.