Thomas Murphy

Former CEO Cap Cities


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Thomas Murphy speaks of his early years at WROW-TV in New York. He recalls being appointed the CEO of Capital Cities, and talks of overseeing the ownership of many television stations, dozens of cable-TV systems, and later, the acquisition of the ABC network. Murphy describes the balance of business between the station owners, networks and viewers, and the ever-changing telecommunications business. He outlines his relationships with many in the broadcasting and business community, including Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffett, Barbara Walters, and then ABC President John B. Sias. He concludes by talking about the acquisition of ABC by Disney in 1995 and the then-media landscape. Donald West conducted the interview on October 22, 1998 in New York City, New York.

"In the first year at ABC we lost seventy million dollars, but by the next year we started to make money. By the time we sold it we were making about four hundred million dollars. It's a high-risk business. It's a tough business. Disney made a good deal."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
Thomas Murphy on taking over as CEO of Capital Cities
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities acquisition of ABC
Thomas Murphy on how Disney's acquisition of ABC came about
Thomas Murphy on his personal success in business 
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on the luminaries he grew up around; on his early career aspirations 
On his time in the Navy; on becoming a salesman; on going to Harvard Business School

Chapter 2

On people he attended Harvard with and working at the Kenyon & Eckhardt ad agency; on advertising in the early days of television; on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s; on leaving advertising and going to work for a local television station
On going to work for Capital Cities; on his early days at Capital Cities

Chapter 3

On Capital Cities partner Frank Smith and acquiring television stations; on the growth of Capital Cities; on Capital Cities becoming a powerhouse 
On taking over as CEO of Capital Cities; on acquiring local television stations; on moving to New York

Chapter 4

On Warren Buffett; on Capital Cities acquisition of ABC; on the early days of Capital Cities/ABC
On Capital Cities getting involved with cable; on the then-relationship between cable and broadcast outlets; on his plans for ABC when Capital Cities took over in 1986

Chapter 5

On his business partner Dan Burke; on ABC President John Sias; on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
On the demographics of ABC and dealing with programming; on his instincts regarding programming at ABC; on how Disney's acquisition of ABC came about

Chapter 6

On how the deal with Disney to take over ABC was consummated; on his personal success in business; on working with Leonard Goldenson, William S. Paley and Frank Stanton
On various people he's worked with in his career; on what he would do differently in his career
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

View Topic
Thomas Murphy on working at the Kenyon & Eckhardt ad agency
Thomas Murphy on advertising in the early days of television
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
Thomas Murphy on his plans for ABC when Capital Cities took over in 1986

Media Consolidation

View Topic
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities acquisition of ABC
Thomas Murphy on the early days of Capital Cities/ABC
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities getting involved with cable
Thomas Murphy on the then-relationship between cable and broadcast outlets
Thomas Murphy on how Disney's acquisition of ABC came about
Thomas Murphy on how the deal with Disney to take over ABC was consummated 

Television Industry

View Topic
Thomas Murphy on working at the Kenyon & Eckhardt ad agency
Thomas Murphy on advertising in the early days of television
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities partner Frank Smith and acquiring television stations
Thomas Murphy on the growth of Capital Cities
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities becoming a powerhouse 
Thomas Murphy on taking over as CEO of Capital Cities
Thomas Murphy on acquiring local television stations
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities acquisition of ABC
Thomas Murphy on the early days of Capital Cities/ABC
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities getting involved with cable
Thomas Murphy on being a broadcaster
Thomas Murphy on the then-relationship between cable and broadcast outlets
Thomas Murphy on his plans for ABC when Capital Cities took over in 1986
Thomas Murphy on ABC President John Sias
Thomas Murphy on various people who worked under him at ABC
Thomas Murphy on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
Thomas Murphy on the demographics of ABC and dealing with programming
Thomas Murphy on his instincts regarding programming at ABC
Thomas Murphy on how Disney's acquisition of ABC came about
Thomas Murphy on how the deal with Disney to take over ABC was consummated 
Professions

Executives

View Profession
Thomas Murphy on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
Thomas Murphy on the demographics of ABC dealing with programming
Thomas Murphy on his instincts regarding programming at ABC
Thomas Murphy on his personal success in business 

Television Executive

View Profession
Thomas Murphy on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
Thomas Murphy on the demographics of ABC dealing with programming
Thomas Murphy on his instincts regarding programming at ABC
Thomas Murphy on his personal success in business 
Genres

Commercials

View Genre
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
Thomas Murphy on advertising in the early days of television
Thomas Murphy on working at the Kenyon & Eckhardt ad agency
People

Steven Bochco

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Thomas Murphy on Steven Bochco

Michael Dann

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Thomas Murphy on Mike Dann

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Thomas Murphy on working with Leonard Goldenson

Stanley Hubbard

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Thomas Murphy on Suzanne Murphy (his wife), Stanley Hubbard, Frank Bennack, and Warren Buffet 

Bob Iger

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Thomas Murphy on Bob Iger

Rupert Murdoch

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Thomas Murphy on Rupert Murdoch

William S. Paley

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Thomas Murphy on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton

Frank Stanton

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Thomas Murphy on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton

Ted Turner

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Thomas Murphy on Ted Turner

Barbara Walters

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Thomas Murphy on Barbara Walters

Jack Welch

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Thomas Murphy on Jack Welch

Bob Wright

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Thomas Murphy on Bob Wright and Jack Welch

All Interviews

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