Cover photo

Picture yourself competing with the big 3 TV networks

Overview and history of broadcasting networks

gm creators!

Happy Friday :) I hope all of you have something fun planned for the weekend 😎

Today is day 9️⃣ of my 30 day writing challenge - it's already been more than one week since I started! Sill going strong 💪

Some of the days were definitely annoying but overall I'm glad I started this challenge. It's been forcing me to just get words on paper even if I don't feel like it. I haven't been ~excited~ about everything I've written or how some of my pieces have come out, but the focus is purely consistency at the beginning.

These past few days, I decided to educate myself on crypto policy in America.

If you're new to The Bigger Picture (TBP), welcome! Subscribe below so you don't miss any future TBP posts 🥂

tl;dr of today's post

  1. Starting Point: I discuss yesterday's rant on mainstream news and how I'm thinking about learning more about the intersection of tech & media.

  2. The Big 3: I cover what Broadcast Networks are and key metrics in terms of audience reach.

  3. Acquisitions, Investments, & Spinoffs: I get into the history of pre-television and the crazy succession style lead up to The Big 3.

  4. July 1st, 1941: I talk about the day commercial television became a reality after FCC's approval of T.V. broadcasting. I also note the similarities of tech vs. policy we're seeing this week in crypto.

Posts since my last e-mail ✍️

Tuesday: "Picture yourself standing with crypto" - I go into the history of crypto regulation

  • 2013: FinCEN defines virtual currency

  • 2014: IRS determines bitcoin as property

  • 2015: Coinflip vs CFTC

  • 2017: SEC uses DAO hack to determine crypto as securities

Wednesday: "Picture yourself entering politics due to incompetent authorities" - Current crypto regulation happenings. Getting up to speed on what's happening.

  • Key Follows - I provide a list of must follows to stay updated on all things crypto regulation.

  • Digital Freedom Alliance - Advocacy group to raise $100m for a pro-crypto campaign.

  • Coinbase Global Advisory Council - top advisors helping the Coinbase exec team navigate murky regulatory waters.

  • Lack of Clarity - Are digital assets securities or commodities?

  • Proposed House Draft Bill on June 2nd by senior republicans.

Thursday: "Picture yourself never consuming mainstream media" - This post was a rant on how stupid mainstream media is and how it's all about influenced headlines.

  • Inspired by a Vox article published yesterday that had the title "Now might be a good time to consider quitting crypto". Ironically this is the same company that was in process of accepting a huge donation from SBF

  • I also mention how Tucker Carlson is starting his own news series directly on Twitter after being fired from Fox News a month ago

Let me know if any of these posts sound interesting and if you'd like to hear more about any given topic. I'm always looking for feedback!

On to today's post 🚀

A Starting Point 🟢

After my rant yesterday on how dumb mainstream media is, this morning I decided to educate myself more on media, tech, and the intersection of both.

My first step was to simply blabber away to ChatGPT and put my nebulous thoughts in writing. Then I asked GPT to make a mission statement of what's going on in my head and what I'm trying to do. It nailed it on the first try!

After this, I decided to message the one person I know who has been talking about citizen journalism for the last few years non-stop on my Twitter feed: Balaji.

He responded with two resources:

  1. Book: The Gray Lady Winked by Ashley Rindsberg

  2. Podcast: Realignment Podcast featuring him from 2020

I'm halfway into the podcast and it's pretty interesting but I need to watch it on YouTube to see all the graphs and charts they refer to. I'll be going through the book the next few days.

With that being said, I didn't want to overcomplicate things right from the start. In fact, I'm not even sure I'm actually interested enough about this subject to do a full on deep dive. So I decided to keep this first day of learning simple.

I asked ChatGPT how it would categorize the main sections of mainstream media and this is what it gave me:

  1. Television (Broadcast, Cable)

  2. Print & Digital (NYT, Washington Post)

  3. Digital Only (BuzzFeed, Vox)

  4. News Agencies (AP, Reuters)

Today, I'll give a general overview and history of Broadcast Networks 📺.

The Big 3

Broadcast networks such a NBC, ABC, and CBS (the big three) do not broadcast their content directly to viewers. Instead, they provide programming to a series of local television stations, known as affiliates, which then broadcast the network's content to viewers in their specific local area.

For example, if you live in New York and you watch CBS, you're actually watching WCBS-TV, which is the CBS affiliate for the New York market. If you live in Los Angeles and watch CBS, you're watching KCBS-TV, which is the CBS affiliate for Los Angeles. Some affiliates are owned directly by the networks and are referred to as O&Os - owned and operated stations.

The big 3 have dominated American television basically since the 50s-60s. There was a fourth relevant network in the early days known as the DuMont network but it ended operations in 1955. In fact, Fox Network, which started in 1986 originated from the leftover assets of DuMont (held by Metromedia at the time).

Academic Kids Encyclopedia

Acquisitions, Investments, & Spinoffs

Did you know NBC and ABC came from the same parent company? And that parent company initially bought the assets from AT&T 😂

Let's rewind a bit. Before television, radios were obviously the primary form of broadcasting and communication. The first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, started broadcasting in 1920.


Throughout the 20s, radio quickly became the popular form of entertainment across America. I'll dive deeper into the radio history in another post. For now, just know that AT&T got into the radio business in 1922 and launched its own station known as WEAF.

Then Radio Corporation of America (RCA) bought AT&T's two radio stations for $1 million (worth ~$14m today). The NBC was further broken down into two networks: the more high-profile Red Network and the lesser known Blue Network.

Because of antitrust issues, NBC was eventually forced to sell one of its networks. NBC decided to sell off the blue network which became known as the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).


CBS initially started as the United Independent Broadcasters in 1927. However, they faced early financial struggles and ended up receiving outside investment from a company, Columbia Phonograph Company (CPC). Yes lmao, CBS was literally saved by a company that made this.

Then in 1928, a man named William S. Paley bought a majority interest in CBS. Paley was the son of a Philadelphia cigar manufacturer and was able to attract advertisers to the network. Under his leadership, CBS started to quickly dominate the space in parallel with NBC.

The build up to July 1st, 1941

Throughout the late 20s and 30s, the big three quickly grew their influence by growing out their networks nationwide. At the same time, these companies were the first to start experimenting with televisions. They had gotten the hang of paid advertising slots on their radio networks and were starting to experiment with image. It was pretty clear to engineers then that television would be the next obvious step in communication and entertainment.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was established in 1934 to regulate communication industries which was pretty much radio at the time. And then, in the following years, it finally was pressured to provide regulation for television as well.

Finally on July 1st, 1941, the FCC approved commercial television broadcasting in the United States.

July 1, 1941: The Day Commercial Television Was Born | Television Academy

I want to callout that even back in the 1930s, it was the tech companies pressuring the government to provide some form of clarity on regulation and how to proceed. No different than what's happening with Coinbase right now.

However, note the year: 1941. Though the broadcasting companies received approval, nothing really happened with televisions for the better part of that decade due to WWII. There was literally a shortage of materials and televisions at the time were low-quality and most people assumed they were just for hobbyists. Huh that's funny...sounds like another type of tech that we know today.

My key takeaway here is that the show Succession actually makes sense. These mega-corporations in the networking, media, & communication industries were constantly handing assets back and forth.

Okay, that's all for today - hope you all have a great weekend!