First Woman To Head A Major Television Network Has Lebanese Roots

The Fox Broadcasting Company, often shortened to Fox and stylized in all caps as FOX, is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation.

The network is headquartered in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center (also in New York) and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

Launched on October 9, 1986, as a competitor to the Big Three television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC), FOX went on to become the most successful attempt at a fourth television network.

It was the highest-rated free-to-air network in the 18–49 demographic from 2004 to 2012, and it earned the position of the most-watched American television network in total viewership during the 2007–08 season.

In 1993, Lucie Salhany became the first woman in history to head a broadcast television network in the position as Chairwoman of Fox Broadcasting Company.

Salhany was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to father Halim Jacob Mady, who was Jordanian, and mother Matilda Mady, who was Lebanese-Syrian. Her parents owned a grocery store in Cleveland.

Salhany graduated from Brush High School in Lyndhurst, Ohio, in 1964, and attended Kent State University but, after dropping out at age 19, she did not continue her education for more than a year.

In 1967, Salhany got a job as a secretary to the Program Manager at an independent TV station in Cleveland called WKBF-TV.

She was continuously promoted, and after training by her boss, when she was 24, she took over his position in 1975, becoming the Program Manager of the Boston TV station, WLVI-TV.

In 1979, Salhany became Vice President for Programming at Taft Broadcasting Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was responsible for bringing Oprah Winfrey, who was then a local Chicago talk-show host, in a syndication deal.

Salhany also championed big shows such as The Arsenio Hall Show, Hard Copy, and Entertainment Tonight.

In 1985, she moved to Paramount Domestic Television in Los Angeles as President and supervised the production of shows like Entertainment Tonight, The Arsenio Hall Show, Hard Copy, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In 1991, former Paramount colleague and newly hired FOX Broadcasting CEO Barry Diller asked Salhany to become Chairman of Twentieth Television.

When Diller was fired four months later, Rupert Murdoch gave her Diller’s job. The position was Chairman of FOX News Network.

Salhany took the network from four nights of programming to seven nights of programming, and was responsible for creating the highly successful TV show The X-Files, and brought the NFL to the network.

Despite that, she left after three and a half years on her five-year contract, saying that Murdoch breached terms of her contract by not maintaining reporting structure.

Following her resignation, she moved back to Paramount as they were about to launch the United Paramount Network (UPN), which later merged with The WB. Salhany was Chief Executive Officer of UPN from 1995 to 1997.

In 1997, she left UPN and moved to Boston, where her husband was based, and started a media consultancy business called JH Media. In 2003, she co-founded Echo Bridge Entertainment, LLC.

In 2019, Jumptuit Media & Entertainment Inc. – a vertical affiliate of Jumptuit Inc. and part of the Jumptuit Group – announced that Lucie Salhany will join its Board of Directors. 

“We are honored to have someone with Lucie’s incredible pioneering spirit and body of work join the Jumptuit Team,” said Donald Leka, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Jumptuit, Inc.

He continued saying: “The glass ceilings Lucie Salhany shattered throughout her career helped to open the doors of the media and entertainment industry to women. She is an inspiration to us all and we look forward to her wisdom and guidance in the scaling of Jumptuit.”

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