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."

Highlights
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
02:39
Thomas Murphy on taking over as CEO of Capital Cities
06:02
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities acquisition of ABC
07:24
Thomas Murphy on how Disney's acquisition of ABC came about
05:39
Thomas Murphy on his personal success in business 
02:06
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on the luminaries he grew up around; on his early career aspirations 
18:00
On his time in the Navy; on becoming a salesman; on going to Harvard Business School
09:36

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
16:59
On going to work for Capital Cities; on his early days at Capital Cities
13:44

Chapter 3

On Capital Cities partner Frank Smith and acquiring television stations; on the growth of Capital Cities; on Capital Cities becoming a powerhouse 
14:20
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
14:45
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
13:30

Chapter 5

On his business partner Dan Burke; on ABC President John Sias; on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
14:09
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
15:06

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
15:12
On various people he's worked with in his career; on what he would do differently in his career
13:40
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

View Topic
Thomas Murphy on working at the Kenyon & Eckhardt ad agency
03:25
Thomas Murphy on advertising in the early days of television
01:49
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
02:39
Thomas Murphy on his plans for ABC when Capital Cities took over in 1986
06:02

Media Consolidation

View Topic
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities acquisition of ABC
07:24
Thomas Murphy on the early days of Capital Cities/ABC
02:23
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities getting involved with cable
03:41
Thomas Murphy on the then-relationship between cable and broadcast outlets
02:20
Thomas Murphy on how Disney's acquisition of ABC came about
05:39
Thomas Murphy on how the deal with Disney to take over ABC was consummated 
06:10

Television Industry

View Topic
Thomas Murphy on working at the Kenyon & Eckhardt ad agency
03:25
Thomas Murphy on advertising in the early days of television
01:49
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
02:39
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities partner Frank Smith and acquiring television stations
05:36
Thomas Murphy on the growth of Capital Cities
03:59
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities becoming a powerhouse 
04:43
Thomas Murphy on taking over as CEO of Capital Cities
06:02
Thomas Murphy on acquiring local television stations
08:03
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities acquisition of ABC
07:24
Thomas Murphy on the early days of Capital Cities/ABC
02:23
Thomas Murphy on Capital Cities getting involved with cable
03:41
Thomas Murphy on being a broadcaster
01:29
Thomas Murphy on the then-relationship between cable and broadcast outlets
02:20
Thomas Murphy on his plans for ABC when Capital Cities took over in 1986
06:02
Thomas Murphy on ABC President John Sias
02:58
Thomas Murphy on various people who worked under him at ABC
03:14
Thomas Murphy on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
02:58
Thomas Murphy on the demographics of ABC and dealing with programming
04:16
Thomas Murphy on his instincts regarding programming at ABC
04:00
Thomas Murphy on how Disney's acquisition of ABC came about
05:39
Thomas Murphy on how the deal with Disney to take over ABC was consummated 
06:10
Professions

Executives

View Profession
Thomas Murphy on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
02:58
Thomas Murphy on the demographics of ABC dealing with programming
04:16
Thomas Murphy on his instincts regarding programming at ABC
04:00
Thomas Murphy on his personal success in business 
02:06

Television Executive

View Profession
Thomas Murphy on working with affiliates and dealing with talent at ABC
02:58
Thomas Murphy on the demographics of ABC dealing with programming
04:16
Thomas Murphy on his instincts regarding programming at ABC
04:00
Thomas Murphy on his personal success in business 
02:06
Genres

Commercials

View Genre
Thomas Murphy on the role of the advertising agency in the television business in the '50s
02:39
Thomas Murphy on advertising in the early days of television
01:49
Thomas Murphy on working at the Kenyon & Eckhardt ad agency
03:25
People

Steven Bochco

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Thomas Murphy on Steven Bochco
00:47

Michael Dann

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Thomas Murphy on Mike Dann
00:42

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Thomas Murphy on working with Leonard Goldenson
03:57

Stanley Hubbard

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Thomas Murphy on Suzanne Murphy (his wife), Stanley Hubbard, Frank Bennack, and Warren Buffet 
07:31

Bob Iger

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Thomas Murphy on Bob Iger
01:10

Rupert Murdoch

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Thomas Murphy on Rupert Murdoch
00:48

William S. Paley

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Thomas Murphy on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton
00:34

Frank Stanton

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Thomas Murphy on William S. Paley and Frank Stanton
01:10

Ted Turner

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Thomas Murphy on Ted Turner
00:40

Barbara Walters

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Thomas Murphy on Barbara Walters
00:33

Jack Welch

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Thomas Murphy on Jack Welch
00:21

Bob Wright

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Thomas Murphy on Bob Wright and Jack Welch
00:35

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