|Type||Defunct broadcast television network|
|Availability||United States (1956—1961)|
|Owner||National Telefilm Associates|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Charles C. Barry|
Oliver A. Unger
The NTA Film Network was an early American television network founded by Ely Landau in 1956. The network was not a full-time television network like CBS, NBC, or ABC. Rather, it operated on a part-time basis, broadcasting films and several first-run television programs from major Hollywood studios. Despite attracting over 100 affiliate stations and the financial support of Twentieth Century-Fox (which purchased a 50% share of NTA in November 1956), the network proved unprofitable and was discontinued by 1961. The NTA Film Network's flagship station, WNTA-TV, is now WNET, one of the flagship stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Parent company National Telefilm Associates was founded by producers Ely Landau and Oliver A. Unger in 1954 when Landau's film and television production company, Ely Landau, Inc., was reorganized in partnership with Unger and screenwriter and producer Harold Goldman. NTA was the successor company to U.M. & M. TV Corporation, having purchased U.M. & M. in 1956.
In October 1956, NTA launched the NTA Film Network, a syndication service which distributed both films and television programs to independent television stations and stations affiliated with NBC, CBS, or ABC (DuMont had recently gone out of the network business). The ad-hoc network's flagship station was WNTA-TV, channel 13 in New York. The NTA Network was launched as a "fourth TV network", and trade papers of the time referred to it as a new television network.
Unlike the Big Three television networks, the local stations in the NTA Film Network were not connected via coaxial cable or microwave relay. Instead, NTA Film Network programs were filmed and then mailed to each station in the network, a method used by television syndicators in the 1950s and 1960s. However, many local stations agreed to broadcast NTA Film Network programs in pattern (simultaneously). Landau's claim to network status was based on the simultaneous airing of the programs.
The NTA Film Network launched on October 15, 1956, with over 100 affiliate stations. In November 1956, it was announced that 50% of the network had been purchased by Twentieth Century-Fox, which would also produce original content for the network. The film network grew to 128 stations. In September 1957, the network purchased KMGM-TV (now Fox O&O KMSP-TV) in Minneapolis.
The following is a list of NTA Film Network affiliate stations in November 1956.
|Ada, OK: KTEN||Grand Junction: KREX-TV||Oklahoma City: KGEO|
|Allentown-Bethlehem, PA: WGLV||Green Bay-Marinette, WI: WBAY-TV||Peoria: WTVH|
|Anchorage: KTVA||Harrisburg: WCMB-TV||Phoenix: KPHO-TV|
|Amarillo, TX: KGNC-TV||Hattiesburg: WDAM-TV||Portland, ME: WCSH|
|Asheville, NC: WLOS||Henderson-Las Vegas: KLRJ-TV||Portland, OR: KPTV|
|Atlanta: WAGA||Houston: KTRK-TV||Providence: WJAR|
|Austin, MN: KMMT||Indianapolis: WFBM-TV||Raleigh-Durham: WTVD|
|Bakersfield: KERO-TV||Jackson, MS: WLBT||Richmond: WTVR-TV|
|Bangor, ME: WABI-TV||Jefferson City, MO: KRCG||Roanoke, VA: WDBJ|
|Birmingham, AL: WBRC||Johnstown, PA: WARD-TV||Rock Island: WHBF-TV|
|Bismarck ND: KBMB-TV||Juneau: KINY-TV||Rockford, IL: WREX-TV|
|Carlsbad NM: KAVE-TV||Kansas City: KMBC-TV||Salt Lake City: KSL-TV|
|Cedar Rapids-Waterloo: KWWL||Kearney, NE: KHOL-TV||San Angelo, TX: KTXL-TV|
|Charleston, WV: WCHS-TV||Knoxville: WBIR-TV||San Antonio: KENS-TV|
|Charleston, SC: WUSN-TV||West Lafayette, IN: WFAM-TV||San Diego: XETV|
|Chattanooga: WDEF-TV||Lafayette, LA: KLFY-TV||Savannah: WSAV-TV|
|Chicago: WGN-TV||Lincoln: KOLN||Seattle-Tacoma: KTNT-TV|
|Cincinnati: WKRC-TV||Little Rock-Pine Bluff: KATV||Sioux City: KTIV|
|Cleveland: WJW-TV||Los Angeles: KTTV||South Bend-Elkhart, IN: WSJV|
|Columbus, GA: WDAK-TV||Lubbock: KDUB||Spokane: KREM-TV|
|Columbus, OH: WTVN-TV||Madison: WISC-TV||Springfield, MA: WHYN-TV|
|Columbus, MS: WCBI-TV||Memphis: WMCT||St. Joseph, MO: KFEQ-TV|
|Dallas-Ft Worth: KFJZ-TV||Miami: WGBS-TV||Sweetwater, TX: KPAR-TV|
|Decatur, IL: WTVP-TV||Milwaukee: WITI||Tampa: WSUN-TV|
|Decatur, AL: WMSL-TV||Minneapolis: WTCN-TV||Tucson: KVOA|
|Denver: KTVR||Minot: KCJB-TV||Tulsa-Muskogee: KOTV|
|Des Moines-Ames: WOI-TV||Mobile: WALA-TV||Twin Falls, ID: KLIX-TV|
|Dickinson, ND: KDIX-TV||Monroe, LA: KNOE-TV||Washington: WMAL-TV|
|Dothan, AL: WTVY||Montgomery: WCOV-TV||Waterloo-Ft Wayne, IN: WINT|
|Duluth-Superior: KDAL-TV||Muncie: WLBC||Watertown, NY: WCNY-TV|
|Eau Claire: WEAU-TV||Nashville: WSIX-TV||Wichita Falls, TX: KSYD-TV|
|El Paso: KROD-TV||New Jersey-New York: WATV, later WNTA||Wichita-Hutchinson: KTVH|
|Fairbanks: KTVF||Norfolk: WVEC-TV||Wilkes Barre-Scranton: WILK-TV|
|Fargo-Valley City: KXJB-TV||Oak Hill, WV: WOAY-TV||York, PA: WNOW-TV|
Later affiliates included KOOK-TV in Billings, Montana (c. 1958-1959), KONO-TV in San Antonio (c. 1958-1959), WISH-TV in Indianapolis (c. 1958-1959), and KTVU in San Francisco (c. 1959-1960). The network purchased KMGM-TV in Minneapolis, in September 1957.
The NTA Film Network aired both films and television series. Among its 1956-1957 offerings were 52 Twentieth Century-Fox films. Premiere Performance, a prime time block of Twentieth Century-Fox films, aired from 1957-1959. Other film blocks included TV Hour of Stars and The Big Night (both 1958-1959).
The network's television programs included:
How to Marry a Millionaire, which aired from 1957 to 1959, was based on the popular 1953 film of the same name. The series starred Barbara Eden, Merry Anders, Lori Nelson (1957-1958), and Lisa Gaye (1958-1959). The final episode aired in August 1959.
Man Without a Gun, a western series starring Rex Reason and Mort Mills, aired from 1957 to 1959. The series portrayed Reason as a newspaper editor who brought criminals to justice without the use of guns.
This is Alice, which aired from 1958 to 1959, starred nine-year-old Patty Ann Gerrity as Alice Holliday, a girl who lived in the fictional town of River Glen, Georgia. The series was directed and produced by Sidney Salkow for NTA and Desilu Productions.
The Play of the Week, which aired from 1959 to 1961, was a series of 67 televised plays. The program was well received by critics, and received a Peabody Award. The series ended its run on May 1, 1961.
Other, lesser-known NTA series included The Bill Corum Sports Show, Man's Heritage, and The Passerby (all c. 1957), Official Detective (1957-1958), Open End (1958-1961), William Tell (1958-1959), Assignment: Underwater (1959-1960), Q. T. Hush (1960-1961), Sheriff of Cochise/U.S. Marshall (1956-1958), Alex in Wonderland (1959), Newsbeat (1959-1961), Juke Box Jury (1958-1959), The Best of Bishop Sheen (1958-1963), Danger Is My Business (1958), Divorce Court (1958-1961), Glencannon (1959), Grand Jury (1959), Mantovani (1959), Henry Morgan and Company (1959), George Jessel's Show Business (1959), The Mike Wallace Interview (1959-1961), The Third Man (1960-1961), The Oscar Levant Show (1960), Confidential Portrait, Crime Reporter, and Probe (1962).
Below is a timeline showing the airdates of the NTA Film Network's programs and later NTA offerings. The number of episodes that each series aired is given in parentheses. Some dates are tentative, as accurate records for filmed television series were not always kept.
|Local||Man Without a Gun||This is Alice||How to Marry a Millionaire||Premiere Performance (20th Century Fox movies)|
Note: This schedule was announced in May 1958; according to the announcement, 17 television stations would follow this schedule for the 1958-1959 television season; other NTA Film Network affiliates aired the programs out of pattern.
In January 1959, Ely Landau was succeeded by Charles C. Barry, who took over as president of network operations. Landau continued to chair National Telefilm Associates. Despite the 50% ownership of Twentieth Century-Fox, the film network never developed into a major commercial television network on a par with the "Big Three" television networks; several modern TV historians regard the NTA Film Network as a syndication service rather than a major television network.
By 1961, WNTA-TV was losing money, and the network's flagship station was sold to the Educational Broadcasting Corporation that November. WNTA-TV became WNDT (later WNET), flagship station of the National Educational Television network, a forerunner of PBS. NTA network operations did not continue without a flagship station, although parent company National Telefilm Associates continued syndication services; four television series (Probe, Tintin, The Fair Adventure, and A Day With Doodles) were syndicated by NTA between 1962 and 1966.
The Los Angeles NTA Film Network station, KTTV, went on to become a founding owned and operated station of the Fox television network, which is co-owned with Twentieth Century-Fox and a part of 21st Century Fox.
Other early failed American TV networks: