Newhouse School Mourns the Loss of Pioneering Media Executive Edward Bleier ’51

The Newhouse School mourns the loss of Edward Bleier ’51, the pioneering media executive whose generosity to his alma mater helped support the study of television and pop culture for generations of students that followed in his footsteps at Syracuse University.

Edward Bleier
Edward Bleier ’51

Bleier died Tuesday, his wife Magda Bleier, told The New York Times. He was 94.

Bleier, the former president of Warner Bros. domestic pay-TV, cable and network features division, worked in almost every aspect of radio and television during his distinguished career.

Fittingly, his name is memorialized at the Newhouse School through the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, which serves as a kind of think tank on the art of television and the exploration of popular culture. 

A sign outside the Newhouse 3 rooms for the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture
The Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, located in the Newhouse 3 building, is named after Edward Bleier ’51, who died this week. (Photo by Genaro C. Armas)

Bleier requested in his memorial notices that gifts be sent to the Bleier Center in lieu of flowers.

“Edward Bleier was a titan of the communications industry, a visionary who helped build the foundation for so many of the platforms for consuming content that we take for granted today,” Newhouse Dean Mark J. Lodato said.

“On behalf of the Newhouse community, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Bleier family,” Lodato added. “We are so thankful for his tremendous generosity to Syracuse University, where his legacy will live on at the Bleier Center.”

Bleier was a key executive in implementing changes in the media landscape, principally at Time Warner/Warner Bros. and ABC-TV. At ABC in the 1960s, he at various times headed daytime and children’s programming; news, sports and prime-time sales; and marketing, public relations and long-range planning.

From 1969-2004, while at Warner Bros., Bleier was a key player in Warner Communications’ development of cable systems, cable networks, home video, sports and its 1990 merger with Time Inc.

In 2005, the Center for the Study of Popular Television was renamed the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture thanks to a generous donation from Bleier. The center is headed by Professor Bob Thompson, one of the most well-known and widely quoted popular culture experts in the world.

“Media, particularly popular media, are the new DNA of our global society. With Internet and satellite, ideas, images, stories and information affect every aspect of the world, often instantly,” Bleier said in 2005 in an announcement about the renaming of the center.

“The content of American media is so pervasive-for good or ill-it must be seriously taught and examined,” Bleier said. “Bob Thompson is at the forefront and I am honored to add my support.”

Thompson plans to speak at a memorial service for Bleier on Sunday in East Hampton, New York. He said Bleier “knew everyone in – and everything about – American television.”

“In over 30 years as my friend, he taught me volumes. I was always taken by how a guy who had been such a VIP for 70 years was also so humble and kind. And hilarious,” Thompson said. “Although he’d been retired for a while, he remained up-to-the-second on the monumental changes happening in the industry.”

Thompson recalled a conversation a few weeks ago, during which Bleier provided insights about streaming, artificial intelligence and the Hollywood writers and actors strikes “with wisdom and aplomb,” he said. “I am proud to see his name on my door every morning.”