chapter 6

chapter 6 - 1 Â Although cable television is almost as old...

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Unformatted text preview: 1 ¡ Although cable television is almost as old as broadcast television, broadcasters worked hard to stunt its growth throughout its first twenty-five years. Since the mid-1970s, however, when both HBO (Time Warner’s premium movie service) and WTBS (Ted Turner’s Atlanta TV station) became available to cable companies across the nation, cable television’s growth has been rapid. In 1977, only 14 percent of all American homes received cable. By 1985, that number had climbed to 46 percent. In 1999, cable penetration hit about 70 percent, but it fell to 58.8 percent by 2007 as direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services like DirecTV captured a bigger piece of the market. Technology and the Development of Cable ¡ Although today’s technology is more advanced, cable TV continues to operate in pretty much the same way. The key technical distinction between cable and broadcasting remains: ¡ In cable, programs reach TV sets through signals transmitted via wire; in broadcasting, signals are transmitted over the air. ¡ The advantage of cable is that whereas the airwaves in any given community can accommodate fifteen or so VHF and UHF channels without electrical interference, cable wires can transmit hundreds of channels with no interference. 2 ¡ The first small cable systems—called CATV , or community antenna television— originated in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Manhattan (New York City), where mountains or tall buildings blocked TV signals. ¡ Unlike radio, which was intended to free mass communication from unwieldy wires, early cable technology sought to restore wires to improve the potential of television. The Wires and Satellites behind Cable Television ¡ In 1960, AT&T launched Telstar, the first communication satellite capable of receiving, amplifying, and returning signals. Telstar received transmissions from the ground, beamed from an uplink facility, and retransmitted the signals to a receiving dish called a downlink. ¡ An active satellite, Telstar was able to process and relay telephone and occasional television signals between the United States and Europe. By the mid-1960s, scientists figured out how to lock a communication satellite into geo-synchronous orbit . ¡ Hovering 22,300 miles from the equator, satellites could travel at more than 6,800 mph and circle the earth at the same speed the earth revolves on its axis. For cable television, the breakthrough was the launch of domestic communication satellites, first with Canada’s Anik satellite in 1972, followed by the United States’ Westar in 1974. 3 ¡ The first satellites were capable of operating for seven or eight years and had twelve or twenty- four transponders , the relay points on a satellite that perform the receive-and-transmit functions....
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chapter 6 - 1 Â Although cable television is almost as old...

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