Cable Television

Megan Mullen,

University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Cable television is subscription-based multichannel television program delivery relying on wires. Cable originated to extend broadcast signals, but during its mature years has delivered additional programming.

Cable began mainly in North America. Broadcast television had expanded following World War II, yet huge disparities existed among areas covered. Entrepreneurs in underserved regions constructed tall receiving antennas (headends) to capture and retransmit nearby signals for a fee. Thus began community antenna television (CATV; → Television, Social History of).

CATV expanded during the 1960s, but faced a fickle policy climate. Early in the decade, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) developed regulations, ostensibly to protect broadcast television, that prevented CATV from growing much. Later, CATV became the focus of ‘Blue Sky’ discourses, about reforming television. By the 1970s, US cable policy was more lenient, reflected in new rules of the → Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and revised copyright law (→ Copyright; United States of America: Media System). Canada saw increased regulation of cable following the 1968 creation of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), charged with protecting Canadian media sovereignty (→ Canada: Media System). Mexico’s cable industry began in the 1960s, to extend coverage of Telesistemo Mexicano (TSM; → Mexico: Media System). ...

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