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Quarterly Review of Film Studies

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At the 1972 National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Chicago, the assembled gathering was surprised to receive a mailed greeting from their sometimes adversary, President Richard Nixon, which claimed, "In no other country does the broadcaster have more freedom than in the United States, and I emphasize that my Administration is dedicated to preserving that heritage." Four days later, however, the Justice Department filed against NBC, CBS, ABC, and Viacom International, then a CBS subsidiary in the business of syndicating television programming, an antitrust suit which alleged that the networks were guilty of various trade-restraining and monopolistic activities under Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Similar legal justification was offered thirty-four years earlier when the Justice Department initiated litigation that led to the decade-long Paramount Cae. The resulting Paramount Decision of 1948 is not only the single most important antitrust decision to influence the American motion picture industry in the past half-century, but its theoretical implication and legal precedent have subsequently made a listing impression on American network broadcasting. This essay is designed to investigate the seminal nature of the Paramount Decision as it has affected American television by focusing on the original Paramount litigation and tracing its implications for network monopolistic tendencies from 1948 through 1981.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in QUARTERLY REVIEW OF FILM STUDIES on 1983, available online: