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NBC: America's Network

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

NBC: America's Network is a reference book which chronicles the history of television network National Broadcasting Company (NBC), from its inception to the current state the company was in when the book was published. Of particular relevance to Star Trek is chapter 12, "The Little Program That Could: The relationship between NBC and Star Trek", written by authors Máire Messenger Davies and Roberta Pearson, in which NBC's relationship with Star Trek: The Original Series is explored in detail, as well as commenting on the role Gulf+Western had when it acquired Desilu Studios in 1967 and the resulting syndication phenomena of the franchise.

Summary Edit

From the interior book jacket
"NBC: America's Network makes a significant contribution to our understanding of American broadcasting. Hilmes makes a convincing case for the appropriateness of an examination of a single firm, NBC, to illuminate the major themes and events of American broadcast history. In addition, she adeptly synthesizes a strong set of individually-authored chapters on specific historical periods, controversies, and program genres into a coherent whole. The writing is concise and lively and the breadth and depth of the material makes this a exceptional work." — William Boddy, author of New Media and Popular Imagination
"NBC: America's Network is an outstanding book about one network across US television history. Hilmes is an excellent editor who brings broad insights about the television industry to bear on this volume. The individual essays present different approaches and methods, and together provide an integrated history of NBC with analysis that respects the medium and the people that worked in it." — Mary Beth Haralovich, co-editor of Television, History, and American Culture: Feminist Critical Essays.
"Filled with highly readable essays by the top scholars in the field, NBC: America's Network explores key, often watershed moments in the network's history to illuminate the central role broadcasting has played in constituting public discourse about what is – and what is not – in the public interest. A welcome addition to the history of broadcasting, and essential reading for anyone interested in the transformative role of radio and TV in modern life." — Susan J. Douglas, author of Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.

Contents Edit

  • List of Illustrations, pp. ix-x
  • Acknowledgments, p. xi
    • Introduction to Part One, Michele Hilmes, pp. 3-6
    • 1. NBC and the Network Idea: Defining the "American System", Michele Hilmes, pp. 7-24
    • 2. "Always in Friendly Competition": NBC and CBS in the First Decade of National Broadcasting, Michael J. Socolow, pp. 25-43
  • 3. Programming in the Public Interest: America's Town Meeting of the Air, David Goodman, pp. 44-60
  • 4. Regulating Class Conflict on the Air: NBC's Relationship with Business and Organized Labor, Elizabeth Fones-Wolf and Nathan Godfried, pp. 61-80
    • Introduction to Part Two, Michele Hilmes, pp. 81-84
    • 5. Breaking Chains: NBC and the FCC Network Inquiry, 1938-43, Christopher H. Sterling, pp. 85-97
    • 6. Why Sarnoff Slept: NBC and the Holocaust, David Weinstein, pp. 98-116
    • 7. Employment and Blue Pencils: NBC, Race, and Representation, 1926-55, Murray Forman, pp. 117-134
    • 8. NBC, J. Walter Thompson, and the Struggle for Control of Television Programming, 1946-58, Mike Mashon, pp. 135-152
    • 9. Talent Raids and Package Deals: NBC Loses Its Leadership in the 1950s, Douglas Gomery, pp. 153-170
    • Introduction to Part Three, Michele Hilmes, pp. 171-174
    • 10. NBC News Documentary: “Intelligent Interpretation” in a Cold War Context, Michael Curtin, pp 175-191
    • 11. What Closes on Saturday Night: NBC and Satire, Jeffrey S. Miller, pp. 192-208
    • 12. The Little Program That Could: The Relationship between NBC and Star Trek, Máire Messenger Davies and Roberta Pearson, pp. 209-223
    • 13. Sex as a Weapon: Programming Sexuality in the 1970s, Elana Levine, pp. 224-239
    • 14. Saturday Morning Children's Programs on NBC, 1975-2006: A Case Study of Self-Regulation, Karen Hill-Scott and Horst Stipp, pp. 240-258
    • Introduction to Part Four, Michele Hilmes, pp. 259-260
    • 15. Must-See TV: NBC's Dominant Decades, Amanda D. Lotz, pp. 261-274
    • 16. Creating the Twenty-first-Century Television Network: NBC in the Age of Media Conglomerates, Christopher Anderson, pp. 275-290
    • 17. Life without Friends: NBC's Programming Strategies in an Age of Media Clutter, Media Conglomeration, and TiVo, Kevin S. Sandler, pp. 291-307
    • 18. Network Nation: Writing Broadcasting History as Cultural History, Michele Hilmes and Shawn VanCour, 308-322
  • NBC Time Line, pp. 323-330
  • Bibliography, pp. 331-342
  • Notes on Contributors, pp. 343-346
  • Index, pp. 347

Background informationEdit

  • Conceived as a work of academic research, with contributions from many collaborators, the work was therefore published by University of California Press.
  • For the chapter dealing with Star Trek, authors Davies and Pearson not only made heavy use of the reference book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, but also sought out additional input by conducting interviews with its authors, former Original Series Desilu executive Herb Solow and producer Robert Justman (a timely one as it turned out, as Justman passed away shortly thereafter), whose additional remarks they incorporated in their contribution to the book.
  • To date, combined with its reference source The Real Story, this part of the book stands out as the most accurate account of the business side of the events surrounding the acquisition and cancellation of The Original Series.
  • Authors Davies and Pearson followed up on their research with a far more encompassing treatise on the business aspects of the live-action Star Trek franchise in their 2014 reference book Star Trek and American Television.

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