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Seeking a customer for Photophone, in late 1927 David Sarnoff, then general manager of RCA, approached Joseph P.
Kennedy about using the system for Kennedy's modest-sized studio, Film Booking Offices of America (FBO).
The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) controlled an advanced optical sound-on-film system, Photophone, recently developed by General Electric, RCA's parent company.
However, its hopes of joining in the anticipated boom in sound movies faced a major hurdle: Warner Bros.
RCA chief David Sarnoff engineered the merger to create a market for the company's sound-on-film technology, RCA Photophone.
RKO was also responsible for notable coproductions such as It's a Wonderful Life and Notorious, and it distributed many celebrated films by animator Walt Disney and leading independent producer Samuel Goldwyn.
Kennedy began investigating the possibility of such a purchase. Murdock, who had assumed the presidency of Pathé, turned to Kennedy as an adviser in consolidating the studio with De Mille's company, Producers Distributing Corporation (PDC).
Around that time, the large Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) circuit of theaters, built around the then-fading medium of live vaudeville, was attempting a transition to the movie business. This was the relationship Sarnoff and Kennedy sought.
Negotiations resulted in General Electric acquiring a substantial interest in FBO—Sarnoff had apparently already conceived of a plan for the company to attain a central position in the film industry, maximizing Photophone revenue.
Next on the agenda was securing a string of exhibition venues like those the leading Hollywood production companies owned.A few nonsinging pictures followed, but the studio's first major hit was again a musical.