Broadcasting industry veteran Bob Bennett dies at 89

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert "Bob" Bennett, a broadcasting industry veteran who guided a TV station group that became the initial core of the Fox network, has died. He was 89.

Bennett died Tuesday at a Newport Beach, California, hospital after a long illness, according to spokesman Jerry Digney. The cause of death was not specified.

In the early to mid-1980s, Bennett served as president of Metromedia Broadcasting, then among the nation's largest station groups with major-market stations in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. He worked with media magnate John Kluge.

When another magnate, Rupert Murdoch, acquired Metromedia Broadcasting in 1985, its stations and prime-time programming helped create the Fox Broadcasting Co.

Bennett, after a stint as a page at CBS Radio in the late 1940s in Los Angeles, began his TV career in 1952 at KTTV-TV in LA, first in sales and then as an executive. He was vice president and general manager of WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C., and, from 1969 to 1971, at WNEW-TV, New York.

He headed the creation of WCVB-TV in Boston, which became known for its original, locally produced programming that included the TV movie "Summer Solstice" starring Henry Fonda and Myrna Loy.

The station was sold in 1981 to Metromedia for $220 million, and in 1985 Bennett directed its sale to the Hearst Corp. for $450 million, according to a biography of Bennett provided by Digney.

In 1994, he was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.

Bennett, who grew up in Altoona, Pennsylvania, was a longtime resident of Newport Beach. Survivors include his wife, Marjie, children, Kelly and Casey Bennett.

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