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Document Details


Title: Frank Biondi
Document type: Oral history
Accessibility: Free Only
Repository: Cable Center. Barco Library. Special Collections
Collection: Cable Center Oral History Collection
Description: Frank Biondi played a key role in developing two of cable television's programming giants: Home Box Office and Viacom. Born in 1945 in New York City, Biondi grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Business School. After a stint in investment banking on Wall Street, he went to work for TelePrompTer Corp., then the largest cable company in the US. In 1978 he was hired by an old tennis-playing friend, Michael Fuchs, to run the special planning division of HBO, helping to develop original programming for the pay service. In his oral history Biondi recounts the heydays of HBO's meteoric rise, including relations with the studios, competition with Showtime and HBO's entry into the original programming arena. In 1983 Biondi was named president of HBO and took on the task of positioning the company to compete with the newly developed video cassette recorder. In mid-1984 Biondi's boss at Time Inc., Jerry Levin was replaced by Nick Nicholas and Biondi was in turn replaced at HBO. He spent three years at Columbia Pictures before being hired by Sumner Redstone as president of Viacom Inc. Biondi guided Viacom through a period of explosive growth, bringing along some of his colleagues from HBO days to help run some of the Viacom divisions. He was involved in the acquisition of Paramount Pictures and the development of such assets as MTV into major programming powerhouses. In 1996 Biondi left Viacom to head up Universal Studios. In his oral history Biondi also comments on some of the larger issues related to programming, including the question of whether there is too much concentration of power in the hands of a few companies.
URL: http://www.cablecenter.org/education/library/oralHistoryDetails.cfm?id=58
Original Language: English
Video: [Video available]
Audio: [Audio available]
Time span: Not indicated ... to 2000 (Year of interview)
Speaker: Biondi, Frank
Speaker gender: Male
Document location: Santa Monica, CA
Document date: 03-Oct-2000
Interviewer: Glass, Elizabeth
Locations discussed: North America; United States
Topics discussed - ASP terms: Broadcasting; Cable television--United States; North America; Oral history; Public broadcasting; Television; Television programs; United States
Topics discussed - Other terms: Cable administrators
ASP release: 2005-06
Document code: OHI0022682-24077