Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chris Schenkel, Dumont Boxing, Dick Bailey, Howard Hughes, St. Nicholas Arena

Old Timers may remember that there was a fourth TV network when commercial TV first started in 1947. In fact, it was the long forgotten Dumont Network that actually first began transmitting commercial TV in 1947, a full year before NBC, ABC, and CBS began regular schedules. Dumont had little production resources, so they relied on boxing, wrestling, roller derby, and studio shows - all produced in New York. Their boxing was produced by a forgotten icon of early television -Dick Bailey. Dick worked for ABC but figured out a way to utilize the onerous video telephone cables that were monopolized by the big threewhen they weren't using them. This led to the remote sports for Dumont, then led to Sports Network, Inc. becoming the first independent TV network upon the demise of Dumont in 1957. He signed up horseracing, hockey, basketball, golf, and NFL football's Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears (this was BEFORE the historic NFL CBS contract in the late 1950's). SNI would have been a mere footnote in broadcasting history except for the fact that Howard Hughes - furious in his inability to buy ABC in 1963- had Dick Bailey summoned to his hideout at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas where he bought SNI lock, stock, and barrel for $37 million cash and renamed it the Hughes Network! Note that the Dumont boxing announcer is a young Chris Schenkel. Also note that the fight is from the historic St. Nicholas boxing club, a rare video look at this long gone boxing mecca in New York.

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