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Syndication pioneer Ziv dead at 96

Pioneering radio and TV syndicator Frederic Willam Ziv (The Cisco Kid,
Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt and the proverbial host of others), 96,
died Oct. 13, AP reports.

Ziv, born Aug. 17, 1905, in Cincinnati, founded the first radio-transcription
service in 1937 when he began packaging and distributing a local radio show,
The Freshest Thing in Town, with a hometown baker. The show was a hit,
but the production cost was too high for his sponsor.

Ziv hit on the idea of trying to sell and distribute the show nationally
rather than custom-tailoring the show for a single market at a prohibitive
expense. He moved his operation to Chicago and began producing the show for mass

Anticipating the rise of TV, he allied himself with Cisco Kid Productions in
Hollywood in the 1940s, a company then turning out Westerns and adventure films.
Armed with a library of such shows, Ziv applied the same mass-distribution
techniques to TV.

Syndication became the lifeblood of independent stations, which could not
have afforded the production values of shows like The Cisco Kid, which
was filmed and in color, or Sea Hunt on their own.

In the 1950s, he was the largest independent producer and distributor of TV
programming in the country. In 1959, he sold 80 percent of his company, Ziv TV,
to Wall Street investment firms for $14 million. One year later, United Artists
bought the entire company.

Ziv was a member of the inaugural class of Broadcasting & Cable
magazine's Hall of Fame in 1991.