Chain Broadcasting
Chain Broadcasting is the act of connecting two or more radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

s to broadcast the same program at the same time.

AT&T starts chain broadcasting

AT&T or American Telephone and Telegraph started the first radio network
Radio network
There are two types of radio networks currently in use around the world: the one-to-many broadcast type commonly used for public information and mass media entertainment; and the two-way type used more commonly for public safety and public services such as police, fire, taxicabs, and delivery...

 with the ability to link radio stations through telephone line
Telephone line
A telephone line or telephone circuit is a single-user circuit on a telephone communication system...

s. To begin with, AT&T owned the network WEAF
WEAF may refer to:* WEAF , a radio station in Camden, South Carolina, ex WAME, WQIS* WNBC , new call letters of NYC station originally WEAF, aka WRCA...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. AT&T started the network in 1921 due to its interest in testing the development of radio technology. The station had a variety of regularly scheduled programs which included sponsorships. It was not called advertising at the time. Due to the great success of WEAF, many other stations across the US longed to "chain" the programming. Thus, AT&T began sharing programs across stations.

The Radio Corporation of America or RCA, in an effort to compete, started modeling AT&T’s network idea, but this proved difficult because RCA had to lease the phone lines from AT&T ultimately creating a conflict of interest
Conflict of interest
A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other....

. The Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

 intervened and charged AT&T with anti-trust violations. AT&T recanted the idea.

AT&T decided to promote its most profitable business, telephones, and in 1926, AT&T sold their broadcasting interests to RCA. At the time, RCA was the only real competition. RCA purchased the network with the agreement to lease AT&T’s phone lines. Only one other competitor, Western Union
Western Union
The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S...

 telegraph company, used the network scheme with a downgraded quality.

NBC Red and NBC Blue

After acquiring WEAF in 1926, RCA created the National Broadcasting Company )(NBC) and operated the two networks side by side. However, a year after, RCA split the two and created NBC Red, with WEAF as the originating station, and NBC Blue with WJZ
WJZ may currently refer to:*WJZ , a radio station licensed to Baltimore, Maryland, United States*WJZ-TV, a television station licensed to Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 as its originating station. It has been said that the color designations came from red and blue push pins used on a map that AT&T’s people originally used to separate AT&T’s stations and RCA’s stations.

In 1941, the FCC issued a ‘’Report on Chain Broadcasting’’, desiring to investigate the monopolistic practices of the radio networks. The FCC was concerned NBC Red and NBC Blue were anti-competitive. Since the FCC does not have the power to regulate the networks, they decided aim the regulations to the stations. In 1943, the Supreme Court revoked the FCC’s power to enforce chain broadcasting regulations.


In 1927, the Columbia Phonograph Record Company started a new network named the Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

). William S. Paley
William S. Paley
William S. Paley was the chief executive who built Columbia Broadcasting System from a small radio network into one of the foremost radio and television network operations in the United States.-Early life:...

 bought Columbia a year later and used it to promote entertainment and news programming. He quickly turned the failing company around.


In 1934 the Mutual Network emerged with WGN
WGN may refer to:*World's Greatest Newspaper, former slogan of the Chicago Tribune and the namesake for the WGN broadcasting outlets in Chicago, Illinois.** WGN , a radio station licensed to Chicago, Illinois, United States...

in Chicago as its flagship station. It began with only a few stations and grew quickly.

NBC Blue becomes ABC

However, the competition with NBC and CBS was too strained. The FCC recognized the monopoly NBC had on network broadcasting and in 1941 ordered them to divest one of the networks. It was evident that NBC controlled the majority of the audiences as well as its affiliates and advertising dollars. NBC fought the order but ultimately lost and sold one of its networks in 1945. NBC Blue was sold to Edward Noble, who later renamed it American Broadcasting Company (ABC). NBC Red was renamed NBC Radio Network after NBC Blue divested.
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