Credit Barry Diller with dreaming up the Fourth Network.
Diller, former chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Inc., (he now holds the same titles at QVC Network Inc.) wanted to challenge the established networks when he was running Paramount Pictures in the late ’70s.
“We started the Paramount Television Service, but it was never launched,” Diller says. “I’d always wanted to do it but the economy wouldn’t allow us to.”
After Diller joined Fox, the opportunity arose to purchase Metromedia, whose six television stations reached 25% of the country.
“I thought, now we can do the fourth network,” says Diller. “Rupert Murdoch was agreeable, so we proceeded.”
Although the idea of a fourth national network was widely derided, Diller never gave up on it. “It was a service most people thought would not succeed,” he agrees. “Thousands of ingredients and a lot of dogged work over a period of a few years pulled it together. We knew where we wanted to go, it just took us some time to get there.”
Garth Ancier, who was Fox’s programming chief for the first three years, says that Diller was the architect of the network. “In terms of entertainment-oriented programs, you really have to give the credit to Barry,” Ancier says. “Things came from different places at different times, and it was a collaborative effort, but Barry was the driving force.”