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NTA Film Network

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NTA Film Network

NTA Film Network
Type Defunct broadcast television network
Country United States
Availability United States (1956—1961)
Owner National Telefilm Associates
Twentieth Century Fox
Key people
Charles C. Barry
Oliver A. Unger
Launch date
October 1956
Dissolved November 1961

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 [2] NTA was the successor company to U.M. & M. TV Corporation, having purchased U.M. & M. in 1956.[3]

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.[4] The NTA Network was launched as a "fourth TV network", and trade papers of the time referred to it as a new television network.[5]

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.[6]

The NTA Film network launched on October 15, 1956, with over 100 affiliate stations.[7] 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.[7] The film network grew to 128 stations.[8] In September 1957, the network purchased KMGM-TV (now Fox O&O KMSP-TV) in Minneapolis.[9]


The following is a list of NTA Film Network affiliate stations in November 1956.[10]

Ada, OK: KTEN Green Bay-Marinette, WI: WBAY-TV Peoria: WTVH
Allentown-Bethlehem, PA: WGLV Harrisburg: WCMB-TV Phoenix: KPHO-TV
Anchorage: KTVA Hattiesburg: WDAM-TV Portland, ME: WCSH
Amarillo, TX: KGNC-TV
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 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 York: WPIX 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
Grand Junction: KREX-TV Oklahoma City: KGEO
Amarillo: KGNC-TV

Later affiliates included KOOK-TV in Billings, Montana (c. 1958-1959),[11] KONO-TV in San Antonio (c. 1958–1959),[12][13] WISH-TV in Indianapolis (c. 1958–1959),[14] and KTVU in San Francisco (c. 1959–1960).[15] The network purchased KMGM-TV in Minneapolis, in September 1957.[9]


The NTA Film Network broadcast both films and television programs. NTA publicized its feature films as "Spectaculars". Seen here is the 1957 advertisement for the first TV airing of Suez, starring Tyrone Power and Loretta Young.

The NTA Film Network aired both films and television series. Among its 1956–1957 offerings were 52 Twentieth Century-Fox films.[4] Premiere Performance, a prime time block of Twentieth Century-Fox films, aired from 1957–1959. Other film blocks included TV Hour of Stars[16] and The Big Night (both 1958–1959).[17]

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).[18] 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.[18]

Sidney Salkow for NTA and Desilu Productions.

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.[19] The series ended its run on May 1, 1961.

Other, lesser-known NTA series included The Mike Wallace Interview (1959–1961), The Third Man (1960–1961), The Oscar Levant Show (1960),[24] Confidential Portrait, Crime Reporter,[25] and Probe (1962).[24]

In October 1956, the NTA Film Network also announced provisional plans to telecast live sporting and special events (using network relays) by the 1959–1960 television season.[26]

Timeline of programs

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.


Friday 1958–1959
7:00 7:30 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30
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.[27]

End of network

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.[28] 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.[29][30]

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.[31] 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.[24]

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

See also

Other early failed American TV networks:

Further reading

  • "New Film TV Network to Start Mid-October". Boxoffice. September 15, 1956. p. 15. 
  • "Coast TV Station Wins Top NTA Network Prize". Boxoffice. August 24, 1957. p. 13. 
  • "Fourth TV Network, For Films, is Created". Boxoffice. July 7, 1956. p. 8. 


  1. ^ "Oliver Unger Quits NTA; Charles Glett Successor". BOXOFFICE. 1961-05-29. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  2. ^ "U.M.&M. and NTA, a brief history". Archived from the original on 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  3. ^ "Short subjects film library sold again". Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM). 1956-05-16. p. 25. 
  4. ^ a b Golembiewski, Dick (2008). Milwaukee Television History: The Analog Years. Marquette University Press. pp. 280–281.  
  5. ^ "Fourth TV Network, for Films, is Created". Boxoffice. 1956-07-07. p. 8. 
  6. ^ "New Voice on Channel 13". Time. 1958-05-19. 
  7. ^ a b "Fox Buys Into TV Network; Makes 390 Features Available". Boxoffice. 1956-11-03. p. 8. 
  8. ^ Boddy, William (1990). Fifties Television: The Industry and its Critics. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 138.  
  9. ^ a b "NTA Buys Second TV Station in Month". Boxoffice. October 5, 1957. p. 21. 
  10. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956. 
  11. ^ "Friday TV Schedule". The Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell, MT). 1958-12-26. p. 3. 
  12. ^ "How to Marry a Millionaire Tonight at 9:30 PM KONO-TV Channel 12 NTA Film Network". San Antonio Express and News (San Antonio, TX). 1959-03-14. p. 23. 
  13. ^ "Details, Previews of Tonight's TV". San Antonio Express and News (San Antonio, TX). 1959-01-10. p. 21. 
  14. ^ "Complete TV Programs for the Week". Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, IN). 1958-10-05. p. 21. 
  15. ^ "What's on TV: Wednesday". The Daily Review (Hayward, CA). 1960-01-19. p. 17. 
  16. ^ "TV Hour of Stars Top daytime drama". Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, AZ). 1958-11-10. p. 20. 
  17. ^ "To Withold Shirley Temple Films From Television". Boxoffice. 1958-03-17. p. 16. 
  18. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows, 1946–Present. New York: Ballantine. pp. 642–643, 847–848.  
  19. ^ Ely Landau, Producer, 73, Dies; Filmed Plays for TV and Theaters
  20. ^ Production Radio and Television, pg 942
  21. ^ "National Telefilm Associates (NTA)". 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  22. ^ "TV Notes". Record-Eagle (Traverse City, MI). 1959-03-21. p. 4. 
  23. ^ ,"Wallace, Mike: U.S. Broadcast Journalist". Museum of Broadcast Communications. 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  24. ^ a b c Erickson, Hal (1989). Syndicated Television: The First Forty Years, 1947-1987. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company. pp. 17–181.  
  25. ^ Broadcasting (Cahners Pub. Co) 66: 74. 1964. 
  26. ^ "New 'Network' Planning Debut". The Progress-Index (Petersburg, VA). 1956-10-30. p. 5. 
  27. ^ Kleiner, Dick (1958-05-03). "Thin Man Mystery Show May Add Baby to Cast". The Lima News. p. 19. 
  28. ^ "Barry Named President of NTA Film Network". Boxoffice. 1959-01-26. p. 17. 
  29. ^ McNeil, Alex (1980). Total Television (4th ed.). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
  30. ^ Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1964). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-31864-1.
  31. ^ "Joseph S. Iseman Papers". University of Maryland Libraries. 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 

External links

  • Ask Mr. Pop History (Contains short history of the NTA Film Network)
  • "New Voice on Channel 13" Time article about NTA Film Network, from 1958)
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