Channel Three: Stations
Above: Allen B. DuMont with a receiver manufactured
by his company
"There were...stations that had bought DuMont
equipment and...you could write off some of these
things if you became an affiliate. Cincinnati...was
an example of that. Erie, Pennsylvania, the guy
never paid for any of his equipment, but cleared
all of DuMont's shows."
Art Elliot, a former DuMont network salesman,
in Jeff Kisseloff's The Box (see Channel Eleven).
In addition to its Pittsburgh station, WDTV, channel 3 (see next page), DuMont owned and operated WABD, channel 5, in New York City (later WNEW, and today WNYW), and WTTG, channel 5, in Washington, D.C., which still bears those call letters today. New York's call letters stood for Allen B. DuMont, while the Washington station was named for Thomas T. Goldsmith, a DuMont engineer.
DuMont also applied for television stations in Boston, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, but for various reasons, these applications were never granted. In a complicated set of legal rulings, the FCC decided that the two TV stations owned by Paramount Pictures, a DuMont stockholder, were to be counted against DuMont's station ownership. This prevented DuMont from acquiring the maximum of five owned-and-operated VHF stations which group owners were permitted at the time. (This despite the fact that Paramount's KTLA in Los Angeles declined to clear the DuMont lineup, and DuMont was obliged to clear its programming on crosstown KTSL, and later, KTTV.)
Other stations which DuMont did not own, but with which it had a good relationship and was able to clear network programming (some of which also originated a few network shows) were WGN-TV, channel 9, in Chicago; WFIL-TV, channel 6, in Philadelphia; WAAM, channel 13, in Baltimore; and WCPO-TV, channel 9, in Cincinnati (WFIL, WAAM, and WCPO were "shared" affiliates with ABC). DuMont was also able to clear a limited number of "live" programs on affiliates like WNHC-TV, channel 6, in New Haven (which claimed to be the first DuMont network affiliated station in the United States); WNAC-TV, channel 7, in Boston; WEWS, channel 5, and WXEL, channel 9, in Cleveland; WSPD-TV, channel 13, in Toledo; WJBK-TV, channel 2, in Detroit; WTMJ-TV, channel 4, in Milwaukee; and KSD-TV, channel 5, in St. Louis.
With the exception of UHF affiliates which signed on later, including a UHF station in Kansas City (KCTY, channel 25) which DuMont briefly owned, it is not much of an exaggeration to suggest that these VHF stations comprised the heart of the "live" DuMont network, particularly in its early days. See Appendix Nine for a listing of DuMont network affiliates in 1949.
The DuMont network had relatively few "live" clearances. Only WABD in New York and WTTG in Washington carried the entire DuMont programming lineup. WDTV in Pittsburgh was able to pick and choose from the programming of all four networks, and did, even though it was a DuMont owned and operated station. Independently-owned stations like WGN cleared a large number of DuMont programs, but at stations like WFIL and WCPO, DuMont competed with ABC for program clearances. When UHF stations began to sign on the air, DuMont signed many new affiliates, but these new stations went largely unseen by the viewing public. Although the DuMont network claimed high numbers of stations for certain programs including its pro football telecasts (the record was apparently 215 stations for Bishop Sheen's Life is Worth Living), it was unable to clear most of its shows "live" on a regular basis, which was one factor leading to the network's downfall.
Go to Channel Four: Pittsburgh