Overseas TV History

Today, 38 years ago, NBC debuted its current Peacock logo at the tail end of the NBC 60th Anniversary Celebration, a three-hour long spectacular mixing documentary, musical and sitcom elements homaging the entire history of NBC, from the Golden Age of Radio to the entire history of the television network, going from late-night to daytime programming, earlier entertainment, comedy, drama, sitcoms, specials, movies, sports, and news shows.

The logo was designed by Steff Geissbühler of Chermayeff & Geismar in 1980. The new brand was commissioned by then-new NBC president Fred Silverman, who had commissioned the Proud N from Lippincott & Marguiles the year before; however, a 1977 study by Peter H. Kliegman saw the Peacock’s value in identifying NBC-TV as key, with the “Proud N” seen as a stopgap measure.

Geissbühler pared down the 11 feathers of the Proud N to six, encompassing each of the primary and secondary colors in the RYB color palette and also representing NBC’s six divisions: News (Yellow), Sports (Orange), Entertainment (Red), Stations (Purple), Network (Blue), and Productions (Green). Additionally, the peacock’s head was flipped to right and simplified, becoming more vertical and on the negative space. The word marks were done in a custom typeface, NBC Futura, which takes cues from the Proud N logo and the art deco style of 30 Rock.

However, NBC management decided to freeze the new logo until further notice: NBC was ranked last among the Big Three television networks in ratings at the time, and wanted to hold off on the expense of rebranding until it had returned to the number one spot. The network was all over the place with Silverman, with bad management, poorly received programming and controversial moves made during his tenure, plus losing major affiliation deals to ABC. It was until Grant Tinker and Brandon Tartikoff took over that the network gradually went back to the top with a strong lineup of family sitcoms and grittier, quality dramas.

By 1986, things were already well better, and, to commemorate the anniversary, the new logo went on-air. Its adoption was slow, and was not completed until 1988. When the new logo launched, the network launched a glitzy new campaign, “Come Home to NBC”, with new idents and graphics designed by Pacific Data Images.

The new logo is still in use today: suffering minor adaptations and alterations to reflect the changing times of broadcasting, a major revision was recently done by LA agency Sibling Rivalry in 2022; the revision was designed to make the Peacock look better in smaller screens, with shorter, brighter and balanced feathers (with color hues in line with the Peacock logo) and a bigger “beak”.

This post is dedicated to prolific contributor @south_97, whose birthday is today!

3 Likes

Thank you for your kind message @Medianext.MX! I really appreciate it! :heart:

By the way, that rendition of the NBC Peacock is one of the best and one of the strongest logos in television history :heart_eyes:.

1 Like

A historical compilation of 9 p.m. news opens from NHK in Japan:

2 Likes

Getting musical with station campaigns from the two Hong Kong English channels, circa mid-80s…

TVB Pearl adopted The Pearlwatcher Touch as their slogan for 1984/85 season, with a jingle sung by the late Danny Chan, an aspiring star in the Cantopop scene then:

TVB’s longtime showbiz programme K-100 had some behind-the-scenes in recording the song. It was hosted by Chan and a young Maggie Cheung, who would later become one of the highest-profiled actresses in HK cinema:

ATV Diamond, meanwhile, wanted viewers to “Turn On to ATV”:

A short ident using the jingle:

Really contrasted with how cut-to-the-bone the English channels are now…

4 Likes

I can definitely see the CBS influence in “The Pearlwatcher Touch”.

Other station that América TV copied was Miami’s NBC O&O affiliate WTVJ. América had identical sets and graphics to the ones used by the South Florida channel. Here’s a small comparison:
América 2

WTVJ

3 Likes

Speaking of NBC (but still in the local scene), here are highlights of a Sunday night newscast from New York City’s WNBC-TV in June 1978, presented by longtime anchor/reporter Pia Lindstrom from a futuristic “laboratory” studio designed by Fred Harpman.

2 Likes

That almost looks like the 1980s set for Now You See It.

1 Like

A quick behind the scenes video on L!VE TV, a short-lived UK cable TV channel during its first of what was to become multiple eras.

That network was the brainchild of David Montgomery, a former News UK executive who took over most of the Daily Mirror’s brands after the sudden death of Robert Maxwell; keen to expand to pay TV, the decision was made to launch channel’s exclusively on cable TV, due to Murdoch dominating with Sky on satellite; the move was bold due to cable being still an unprofitable business at the time in the UK.

Montgomery started by buying Wire TV, which was operated by CPP1 (Cable Programme Partners), a joint venture between cable operators United Artists, NYNEX, US West and Comcast, among others. Wire TV originally operated in the cheap, with a mix of American and Australian off-network soap operas, sitcoms and quiz shows, and radio-style talkback shows; however, by 1994, the station had increased the number of sports programming after a deal with Chris Wright’s Chrysalis Group, leading to coverage of non-League football, darts and Lennox Lewis’ boxing bouts; the network also shocked BSkyB after buying rights to the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Mirror wanted to spin off the sports rights into its own channel, Sportswire; however, Telewest and NYNEX, as part of contract renewals with BSkyB to carry Sky Sports, were informed that cable operators wouldn’t be able to launch any rival channels to Sky, leading to the collapse of Sportswire, and with all rights resold to Sky in the end.

However, Mirror was able to launch its plans for a general entertainment channel, having wooed away from the BBC Janet Street-Porter as managing director; however, she worked alongside the controversial Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who served as head of television. The Street-Porter plan for L!VE TV was a very low-cost effort, using more automation than other stations and, inspired by Citytv in Toronto, having new, untried presenters roam across the station’s office, based on the 24th floor of One Canada Square in the Canary Wharf district, in which Mirror had leased some floors and relocated in 1994. Programming was very basic, with rolling blocks of live content mixing studio presentations, reports on celebrities, interviews, reviews, lifestyle features and reports from events and happenings across the UK.

The cut costs, Mirror wanted to use new and untried automated production and transmission software from Avid, and tendered the station’s OB truck to BT’s broadcast division, but, after major technical problems, it had to resort to a semi-automated production team. However, the station suffered major issues after launch, and the low uptake of cable TV led to L!VE TV in the red from the start; not helping were clashes between MacKenzie and Street-Porter on the direction of the network’s content: even if she had brought her close staffers at the BBC to the network (including Rachel Purnell, Darryl Burton, Ruth Wrigley and Tony Orsten), MacKenzie had brought his second and longtime friend, Nick Ferrari, to lead the editorial content.

These situations led to the resignation of Street-Porter after three weeks; MacKenzie took over quickly and axed the rolling schedule. In its place, a traditional schedule with a controversial mix of content that received lots of coverage, but never received high ratings, and was considered cheap and of poor taste. The new schedule was done with the input of US media consultant Bill Ripley, which included surreal and NSFW content which often went beyond the tastes of what was permitted; some more “decent” content were a very cheap soap, Canary Wharf, which could often remind of the “Chances” fiasco, and news updates featuring the News Bunny.

However, L!VE still aired some sport, including full coverage of the 1995 Rugby League World Cup and 1995 darts World Masters, plus greyhound racing and highlights of non-League football; MacKenzie also launched a network of local channels in selected metro areas at the time. However, the increased turn into the red, even with the slowly-increasing ratings, led to the channel closing in November 1999.

In the midst of this, many faces in the station would eventually land bigger gigs at mainstream broadcasting, including Claudia Winkleman (Strictly, The Traitors…), Charlie Stayt (5 News, BBC Breakfast), Rhodri Williams (Sky Sports, Setanta UK, talkSPORT, Al Jazeera, Al Kass…) and Richard Bacon (who, after suffering a major setback after being forced out of Blue Peter, he since landed gigs at The Big Breakfast, Top of the Pops and Radio 5 Live, and has since moved to the US, where he has worked for many of Disney’s networks).

The troubled story of the network was documented by the team from BBC’s Trouble at the Top, which first aired as a standalone doco, Nightmare at Canary Wharf, in late 1995 but was later re-edited by 1997 to include references to how MacKenzie was doing so far in the managing floor.

An interesting book also available used in many digital and good bookshops, is this book from Chris Horrie and Adam Nathan, which explains with further detail the inside story of the troubled network.

2 Likes

In the 1990s, Germany’s ProSieben used the same “Newsplex” set…

…as WSVN in Miami:

1 Like

From the 1980s: NBC program Real People reporting on WTBS Atlanta’s humorous news show 17 Update Early in the Morning. Includes an interview with its host Bill Tush, who later became an entertainment reporter at corporate sibling CNN.

1 Like

10 years later, in 2008, América’s newscasts have switched to a tabloid style, that heavily relied on crime stories and hidden-camera reports. This is a bulletin from the same year, where one of the headlines was the growing popularity of a local cake called Chocotorta :rofl:.

Surprisingly, it sported a very elegant presentation: cool studio and graphics, and a cheerful theme music composed by Sergio Vainikoff.

1 Like