Broadcast pioneer William Robert Rich died on March 28 in Florida of heart failure. He was 87.
Rich was the former head of Warner Communications Intl. Television.
Born in Yonkers, Rich grew up in Pelham, NY. In 1939, after graduating from Oberlin College, Rich began his career at NBC. Serving at one point as a page for Arturo Toscanini, the conductor of the NBC Orchestra, Rich went on to work as chief news editor for General Electric Intl. Broadcast Division.
In the mid 1950’s, Rich was appointed General Sales Manager for Associated Artists and then VP and General Sales Manager of United Artists. During this time, Rich was one of the lead witnesses in a case involving NBC Networks vs. United Artists. Fighting to control how they packaged films for syndication and network sales, the case was viewed as a landmark for both the studios and independent producers.
Following his stint at NBC, Rich became head the TV Syndication Sales Division for Elliot Hyman’s new studio, Seven Arts, which was eventually bought by Kinney Corp. and re-named Warner Communications.
After leaving Warner Communications, Rich became head of National Telefilm Associates TV Syndication and eventually helped launch theater advertising network ScreenVision. Following his departure from ScreenVision, Rich consulted for Certified Reports, the theater checking service.
Rich is survived by his wife, Mae, two sons, a daughter and two stepdaughters.