Saturday, July 31, 2004

Enjoyed the well written and researched eulogy of William S. Paley by Tony and Ted, no question he was a genius in building The CBS Radio and TV networks and it was a great place to work.

For the record however I want to tell you where his creativity failed him.It was at the formation of CBS Cable. It was at his instructions that the format for Cable to be along the Arts, Music, Classical themes ala PBS. (I have the memo from him with this directive).

We built a cable network of over 80 affiliates (this in the earliest 80's,which was a lot of cable cable operators at this time). We had our own satellite transponders and outfitted each operator with a satellite uplink dish. we had a modest studio at 57 st . with 3 VT machines and control room all married with facilities and Technicans of CBS Operations..

We lasted for a year and folded up at an estimataed loss of 30 million.There are still a lot of rusted uplink dishes out in the fields. The demise was clearly due to our programming.

Understand this was a time before the Ted Turner CNN operation was of any consequence and before ESPN was a succesful sports operation. (Which is probably more succesful to Disney now than the ABC TV network).

If only we had gone to our strength which was news and sports...We had experienced news bureaus all over the world and Turner had to start from scratch. And before ESPN we had a sports rights inventory like golf , football, baskets etc..(recall we gave rights to USA cable for weekday coverage).

Today NBC with its MSNBC and CNBC cable channels have it all over CBS on a continuing news story since they are 24 hour a day news operations that blends with NBC news network..

This not to demean Mr. Paley it is just in his later years he booted this one...My opinion -- he may have been swayed by his active social life with the Cushings (Mrs.Paley) and the Whitneys who were very involved in the world of museums and art.

I believe if we had gone to our internal strength of news and sports we would have beaten CNN and ESPN to the punch and be on the air today.

You may remember that I was intimately involved with the short run of CBS cable.


Sid Kaufman