[Bob Wussler – 3 tapes in Dallas]

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0:00 Color bars.

0:22 Bob Wussler talks about global television.

2:50 Wussler talks about his role in the restaurant business.

3:10 He talks about his work with the NBA at CBS starting in 1974, and a more organized and public-friendly NBA.

6:18 Wussler talks about his “21 marvelous years at CBS” before starting to work with Ted Turner in 1980.

7:35 Wussler discusses the differences between CBS honcho Bill Paley and Ted Turner.

9:45 Wussler talks about “what’s next”,  he says the logical next step after television is the motion picture industry. He says that he’s never produced a motion picture though he’d really want to.

11:20 Weinberg asks about Turner’s huge progression since 1975. Wussler talks about rising stock values, as well as Turner’s wealth in terms of stock, rather than actual money.

13:05 Wussler explains why Turner hangs on to a majority share in the corporation.

13:50 Wus sler discusses the Challenger explosion and changes at NASA since he stopped working with them, and answers to how the Challenger explosion (and CNN’s exclusive live coverage) helped the company.

16:30 He describes CNN as “your network of record”, an all-time source of news information.

17:05 Wussler talks about technological advances in broadcasting since 1974.

18:30 Color bars.

18:43 Wussler says that production is still the most prized section of his job, but that his executive duties keep him from producing all but the most important programs for the network. He focuses on his cover age of the Goodwill Games.

20:50 He talks about the Soviet system of management, which doesn’t have many middle-ranking officers.

22:00 Wussler talks about the plans for the Goodwill Games and explains that the expected staff is close to 2000.

22:40 Wussler talks about Connie Hawkins’ NBA career . Also discusses careers of Nate Thurmond, Cazzie Russell, and Peter Maravich.

24:45 Wussler talks about being on the road much of his life. “If being on the road is hell for somebody, my advice is go get another job.”

26:05 Wussler talks about Turner’s involvement with MGM: “a childhood dream that he’s been able to achieve”, and discusses Turner’s interest in CBS.

28:55 Wussler describes some differences between WTBS and Chicago’s WGN and their distribution through cable broadcasting. He explains that WGN is ultimately a Chicago station concerned mainly with local broadcastin g, and secondarily with national broadcast. WGN is a “passive superstation” while WTBS is an “active, involved superstation.”

31:20 Wussler talks about the growth of the cable industry.

33:30 Wussler talks about the possibility of broadcasting networks “in the middle”, not “huge huge” : mainly local broadcasting. He says “not everything has to be big”; interviewer Weinberg says “not everything starts big” and Wussler agrees.

35:10 Wussler fields a question about the validity of ratings. “Ultimately we all serve the public.” He says of network reputation and viewership that, “the sum is greater than the additive power of the parts”.

37:50 Color bars.

38:30 Wussler says he likes dealing with ratings as a challenge, but ratings have negative characteristics. “The curse of network broadcasting is the fact that they’re rated 365 days, or thereabouts, 24 hours a day.” Too much pressure to create something too popular.

40:00 Wussler explains advertising sales and ratings: WTBS sells based on an average price, not specific hourly ratings.

41:20 Wussler says that he thinks specialized networks can be successful in their own way. He discusses cable networks that are finally actually profitable.

43:30 Wussler talks about the proliferation of channels on cable. He predicts only a moderate amount of expansion in terms of cable networks. He talks about the money required to start up a network: a quarter of a billion dollars for 5 years.

46:10 Wussler discusses rearrangements in CBS news. He talks about hiring Sauter for CBS news.

48:30 Wussler says that although it’s a profitable time, the industry is mainly passive. “Despite the bigness of t he industry, the people who are being looked upon to do things today are people who are financially oriented, and less “do” people.” He talks about the industry being owned by bankers and venture capitalists, not broadcasters. He thinks Turner is a “do” person.

51:20 Wussler talks about u pcoming broadcasting on CNN: programs on individual countries.

53:00 Wussler talks about relationships with independent producers. WTBS charges solid price for first 5 runs, royalties afterwards.

55:10 Wussler talks about getting older in the TV industry, and about Turner’s attitude in the industry.

58:58 END

 

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