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Cable television in the United States

Initially cable television was introduced in the United States in 1948, with subscription services following in 1949. Data by SNL Kagan shows that as of 2006 about 58.4% of all American homes subscribe to basic cable television services. Most cable viewers in U.S. reside in the suburbs and tend to be middle class; cable television is not much common in low income, urban, and rural areas.

First commercial system

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First system

The first system of cable television system in the United States was created in 1940 in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania by John Walson to provide television signals to the people who are in poor reception area because tall mountains and buildings blocked TV signals. Mahanoy City was ideally suited for CATV services, since broadcast television signals could easily be received via mountaintop antennas and retransmitted by "twin-lead" or "ladder-lead" cable to the valley community below (where broadcast reception was very poor). Walson's "first" claim is greatly uncertain, however, since his claimed starting date cannot be verified. [4] The United States Congress and the National Cable Television Association have recognized Walson as having invented cable television in the spring of 1948.

A CATV system was developed in the late 1940s by James F. Reynolds in his town of Maple Dale, Pennsylvania, which grew to include Sandy Lake, Stoneboro, Polk, Cochranton, and Meadville.



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  • 1
    Cable Tv Service

    The FCC's definition of "superstation" is a popular broadcast television station whose signal has been up-linked to satellite for redistribution by local cable systems outside the station's local and regional coverage area. The practice has since been restricted by the FCC, although seven stations that began superstation coverage prior to the ban (including WPCH) are covered under a grandfather clause.

  • 2

    In more recent years, premium cable refers to networks, such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz and (prior to 1997) the Disney Channel, that scramble or encrypt their signals so that only those paying additional monthly fees to their cable system can legally view them (via the use of a converter box); however, premium services have the discretion to offer the service unencrypted in conjunction with a certain number of cable providers during a short-term free preview period to allow cable subscribers that do not subscribe to a premium service to sample its programming, the concept being that interested subscribers could consider subscribing to the pay service during the preview period. Since their programming is commercial-free (except for promotions in-between shows for the networks' own content), these networks command much higher fees from cable systems.

  • 3
    Cable Tv Service

    The origins of premium cable lie in two areas: early pay television systems of the 1950s and 1960s and early cable (CATV) operators' small efforts to add extra channels to their systems that were not derived from broadcast signals.

  • 4

    In 1975, HBO became the first cable network to be delivered nationwide by satellite transmission. Prior to this, starting in 1972, it had been quietly providing pay programming to CATV systems in Pennsylvania and New York, using microwave technology for transmission. HBO was also the first true premium cable (or "pay-cable") network. However, there were notable precursors to premium cable in the pay-television industry that operated during the 1950s and 1960s (with a few systems lingering until 1980), as well as some attempts by over-the-air broadcasters during the 1970s and 1980s.