Obituary: 'TV Guide' founder dies at 94

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Early in what's known as TV's golden age, Walter Annenberg saw a potential gold mine in launching a magazine about the small screen that had at its core what was on and when. The result was TV Guide, founded in 1953.

Mr. Annenberg, who died last week at age 94, did not invent the concept of offering jubilant new TV owners program listings, but he saw great potential in a national publication built around the informational listings with attention-grabbing stars on the cover.

"He didn't invent the idea of having a listings magazine, but like most of the great builders of industry in history, he saw something going on and realized he could build it into something big," said Tim Brooks, senior VP-research at cable channel Lifetime and a TV historian.

The magazine would grow to a massive weekly circulation as TV ownership grew. In 1988, Mr. Annenberg sold the weekly, and several smaller titles, to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for $3.2 billion. Today, as part of Gemstar-TV Guide-the company formed in July 2000 between News Corp. and Gemstar-there's a TV Guide channel, an on-screen interactive guide, and a Web presence. The magazine is still among the highest in circulation in the U.S. at 9.07 million.

The digest-size magazine helped Mr. Annenberg amass a fortune. He also launched Seventeen-which became a popular advertising vehicle to reach teenage girls-and ran The Philadelphia Inquirer. Besides his publishing accomplishments, he was a renowned philanthropist and art collector, and served as U.S. ambassador to Britain.

Mr. Annenberg did not start from scratch-he inherited the Inquirer and the Daily Racing Form, among other publications, from his father-though he built the foundation into a sprawling venture that eventually included the Philadelphia Daily News. He also moved Triangle Publications into ownership of radio and TV stations.

Bio Box

Name: Walter Annenberg

Age: 94

Notable achievements: Founded TV Guide (1953) and

Seventeen (1944). Ran The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.

Other accomplishments: Served as ambassador to Britain and was a renowned philanthropist and art collector.

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