The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: by Megan Mullen

By Megan Mullen

In 1971, the Sloan fee on Cable Communications likened the continued advancements in cable tv to the 1st makes use of of movable variety and the discovery of the phone. Cable's proponents within the overdue Nineteen Sixties and early Nineteen Seventies was hoping it's going to ultimately therapy all of the perceived ills of broadcast tv, together with lowest-common-denominator programming, lack of ability to serve the wishes of neighborhood audiences, and failure to acknowledge the desires of cultural minorities. but 1 / 4 century after the "blue sky" period, cable tv programming heavily resembled, and certainly depended upon, broadcast tv programming. no matter what occurred to the Sloan Commission's "revolution now in sight"? during this e-book, Megan Mullen examines the 1st half-century of cable tv to appreciate why cable by no means completed its promise as a noticeably diverse technique of conversation. utilizing textual research and oral, archival, and regulatory heritage, she chronicles and analyzes cable programming advancements within the usa in the course of 3 serious phases of the medium's heritage: the early neighborhood antenna (CATV) years (1948-1967), the confident "blue sky" years (1968-1975), and the early satellite tv for pc years (1976-1995). This historical past in actual fact finds how cable's roots as a retransmitter of broadcast indications, the regulatory constraints that stymied innovation, and the industrial luck of cable as an outlet for broadcast or broadcast-type courses all mixed to defeat such a lot utopian visions for cable programming.

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Extra resources for The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution or Evolution? (Texas Film and Media Studies Series, Thomas Schatz, Editor)

Sample text

As Jim Collins (1992) explains: The problem for television studies, as it tries to come to terms with postmodernism, is how to reconcile the semiotic and economic dimensions of television. Stressing the semiotic to the exclusion of the economic produces only a formalist game of “let’s count the intertexts,” but privileging the economic to the point that semiotic complexity is reduced to a limited set of moves allowed by a master system is just as simplistic. (339) Collins made this statement in an introductory essay, merely suggesting how other studies of television and the issues of postmodernism might proceed.

From the time it was introduced in the late 1940s, the expectations for pay-TV were 32 ■ The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States high. Through a variety of technologies—both wired and broadcast— pay-TV’s promoters promised programming of a quality and degree of specialization unmatched by commercial broadcast television. Several experiments were conducted during the 1950s and 1960s, including some designed to operate in conjunction with CATV. But, as with CATV, pay-TV did not develop as quickly or as thoroughly during either the 1950s or the 1960s as its proponents had hoped.

In spite of loftier ambitions, the few pay-TV experiments able to get off the ground at all inevitably ended their short-lived operations with program schedules remarkably similar to those of broadcast networks. Whether this was cause or consequence of the FCC’s reluctance to license pay-TV on a permanent basis is a subject for debate. In any event, any productive long-term exchanges between the CATV and pay-TV industries lay years in the future. CATV operators, cautioned by pay-TV’s economic and regulatory fortunes as well as uncertainty within their own industry, generally contented themselves with providing as many channels of broadcast television as they could.

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