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Thomas Murphy (broadcasting)

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Thomas Murphy (broadcasting)

Thomas S. Murphy (born May 31, 1925 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American broadcast executive, and was chair and chief executive officer of Capital Cities / ABC, Inc. until 1996. Together with fellow Capital Cities executive Daniel Burke, Murphy engineered the 1986 acquisition of the American Broadcasting Company in 1986 for $3.5 billion.[1] Murphy and Burke, who served as President and Chief Executive of ABC until 1994, are credited with increasing the profitability and efficiency of ABC.[1]

He graduated from Cornell University with B.S. in 1945, and Harvard University with an M.B.A. in 1949. He served in the U.S. Navy, and worked at Kenyon & Eckhardt and Lever Brothers.

Legendary broadcaster and author Lowell Thomas, and his business manager/partner, Frank Smith led a New York City based investor group to buy control of Hudson Valley Broadcasting,[2] in 1954 and hired Murphy to run the WROW Stations as its first general manager. Although Murphy didn't have any broadcast experience, his leadership and his conservative financial restraint however, help bring WROW-TV to profitability three years later. In December 1957, Hudson Valley merged with Durham Television Enterprises, owners of WTVD in Durham, North Carolina, to form Capital Cities Television Corporation, which later became Capital Cities Broadcasting Corp. in 1960 and Capital Cities Communications in 1973. Murphy moved quickly up the ranks in the company. In 1960, he became Capital Cities' first Vice President. In 1964, he became President while Smith moved up to become the company's first Chairman. In 1966, CapCities' co-founder Frank Smith died unexpectedly, and Murphy became Chairman and CEO. He held this position for the next 30 years. Under his leadership, Murphy helped build Capital Cities from a small broadcasting company into a multi-billion dollar media conglomerate. He then got into the publishing and newspaper business by buying Fairchild Publications in 1968, and then bought several newspapers including The Kansas City Star and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Murphy's biggest acquisition came in 1985, when he shocked the media world, by buying the American Broadcasting Company for $3.5 billion to form Capital Cities/ABC.[1][3][4][5] The merger was engineered by Murphy and the man who replaced him as WTEN's station manager, Daniel B. Burke, who became ABC's president.[1][6] In 1995, Capital Cities / ABC was bought by Disney.[7]

He is a member of board of directors of Berkshire Hathaway, General Housewares Corp., Texaco, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and IBM Corporation[8] and a Life Trustee and Honorary Vice Chair of New York University[9]



  1. ^ a b c d Flint, Joe (October 27, 2011). "Daniel Burke dies at 82; former president of Capital Cities/ABC".  
  2. ^
  3. ^ "CAPITAL CITIES' CAPITAL COUP", Fortune, Stratford P. Sherman, David Kirkpatrick, April 15, 1985
  4. ^ Buffett: the making of an American capitalist, Roger Lowenstein, Random House, Inc., 1996, ISBN 978-0-385-48491-6
  5. ^ Sharbutt, Jay (January 13, 1986). "Cap Cities Picks Chief for ABC Broadcasting". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ "Merger Would Mean New Style As Well as New Bosses at Disney", The New York Times, BILL CARTER, February 16, 2004
  7. ^,+CAPITAL+CITIES%2FABC+AGREE+TO+MERGE%3B+$19+Billion+Transaction...-a017360504
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^


  • "Thomas S. Murphy", Encyclopedia of television, Editor Horace Newcomb, CRC Press, 2004, ISBN 978-1-57958-411-5
  • Forbes, Malcolm S. "Mighty CEOs Who are Also All-round Nice Guys are Rare." Forbes (New York), December 11, 1989.
  • Gibbs, Nancy. "Easy as ABC." Time (New York), August 14, 1995.
  • Hawver, W. Capital Cities/ABC The Early Years: 1954-1986 How the Minnow Came to Swallow The Whale. Radnor, Pennsylvania: Chilton, 1994.
  • Ländler, Mark. "Creators of the Big Deal, Capital Cities' Tandem Team." The New York Times, August 1, 1995.
  • Roberts, Johnnie L. "The Men Behind the Big Megadeals." Newsweek (New York), August 14, 1995.

External links

  • "TOM MURPHY", Harvard Business School, December 2000, Amy Blitz
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