In 1948, cable television began in Arkansas, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, practically simultaneously, to improve poor reception of over-the-air television transmissions in hilly or physically distant places. “To receive the broadcast transmissions, “community antennas” were established on mountain tops or other high spots, and households were connected to the antenna towers.
Cable operators began to use their abilities to pick up broadcast signals from hundreds of miles away in the late 1950s. These are available to you “Distant signals” began to shift cable’s focus away from delivering local broadcast signals and toward offering new programming options.
By 1962, there were around 800 cable systems in operation, serving 850,000 users. Westinghouse, TelePrompTer, and Cox were among the first companies to invest in the company, supplementing the efforts of early entrepreneurs like Bill Daniels, Martin Malarkey, and Jack Kent Cooke.
Local television stations saw the growth of cable as a threat since it allowed them to import distant signals. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) increased its jurisdiction and set restrictions on cable providers’ capacity to import distant television broadcasts in response to broadcast sector concerns. The development of cable systems in large markets was “frozen” as a result of these constraints, which lasted into the early 1970s (see below).
The FCC continued its stringent tactics in the early 1970s, implementing regulations that limited cable providers’ ability to offer movies, sporting events, and syndicated programs.
The halt in cable expansion lasted until 1972, when a program of gradual cable deregulation resulted in new constraints on the importation of distant communications, among other things. The stifling of growth had negative financial consequences, particularly in terms of capital access. For several years, funding for cable development and growth was virtually non-existent.
Industry-led efforts at the federal, state, and local levels, on the other hand, have resulted in continuous reductions.
Throughout the decade, there have been a number of limits on cable. These innovations, combined with cable’s pioneering of satellite communications technology, resulted in a significant expansion in consumer services and cable customers.
Home Box Office, the nation’s first pay-TV network, was created in 1972 by Sterling Manhattan Cable’s Charles Dolan and Gerald Levin (HBO). This partnership resulted in the establishment of a nationwide satellite distribution system that utilized a newly approved domestic satellite transmission. Satellites revolutionized the industry, paving the stage for the rapid expansion of program networks.
The second service to make use of the satellite was a local Atlanta television station that largely broadcasted sports and old films. The station, owned by R.E. “Ted” Turner, was delivered statewide via satellite to cable networks and was quickly dubbed WTBS, the first “superstation.”
By the end of the decade, growth had resumed, and cable had reached over 16 million households.
The 1984 Cable Act created a more favorable regulatory environment for the business, resulting in unprecedented investment in cable infrastructure and programming.
The 1984 Act’s deregulation had a significant positive impact on the rapid growth of cable services. The industry spent more than $15 billion on the wiring of America from 1984 to 1992, and billions more on software development. Since World War II, this was the largest private construction project.
The cable sector was able to become a major player in supplying high-quality video entertainment and information to consumers because to satellite distribution and the federal government’s relaxing of cable’s restrictive regulatory structure. Nearly 53 million households had cable by the end of the decade, and cable program networks had grown from 28 in 1980 to 79 in 1989. However, some of this expansion was accompanied by rising consumer costs, causing policymakers to become increasingly concerned.
In response to rising cable prices and other market factors, Congress enacted legislation in 1992 that stifled cable growth once more and opened up previously “exclusive” cable programming to other competitive distribution technologies such as “wireless cable” and the nascent direct satellite broadcast (DBS) industry.
Despite the 92 Act’s impact, the number of satellite networks continued to explode, owing partly to the alternative concept of focusing content to a specific audience “niche” market There were 139 cable television services operating nationwide by the end of 1995, in addition to numerous regional programming networks. The number of national cable TV networks had increased to 171 by the spring of 1998.
More than 57 percent of all customers received at least 54 channels by that time, up from 47 in 1996. By the conclusion of the decade, about 7 out of 10 television households, or more than 65 million people, had chosen cable.
Cable operators began a massive upgrade of their distribution networks in the later half of the decade, investing $65 billion between 1996 and 2002 to develop greater capacity hybrid fiber optic and coaxial cable networks. These include “On a single line into the home, broadband networks can provide multichannel video, two-way voice, high-speed Internet access, and high definition and advanced digital video services.
Cable providers were able to offer users high-speed Internet access in the mid-1990s, as well as competitive local telephone and digital cable services later in the decade, thanks to the upgrade to broadband networks.
With the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the regulatory and public policy landscape for telecommunications services was once again radically altered, resulting in new competition and greater customer choice. It also prompted significant new investment, with AT&T, America’s then-largest telecommunications behemoth, entering the market in 1998 and quitting four years later (see below). Paul Allen, a Microsoft co-founder, began collecting his own stable of cable properties almost around the same time. And America On-Line merged with Time Warner and its cable businesses to form AOL Time Warner, a historic merger.
The cable sector was able to speed the rollout of broadband services because to a generally deregulated environment for cable operating and programming firms, giving consumers in urban, suburban, and rural areas additional choices in information, communications, and entertainment services.
With the arrival of the new millennium came fresh hopes and plans for the advancement of advanced services across cable’s broadband networks.
Cable companies began pilot testing video services that could transform the way people watch television as the new millennium began. Video on demand, subscription video on demand, and interactive TV are just a few examples. The industry was treading carefully in these areas since the expense of upgrading customer-premise equipment to make it compatible with these services was enormous, and it necessitated new, vast, and costly business models.
In 2001, partly in reaction to these pressures, AT&T agreed to merge its cable systems with those of Comcast Corp., resulting in the creation of the world’s largest cable operator, with more than 22 million subscribers.
Lower-cost digital set-top boxes, which became commonplace in customer homes in the mid-1990s, were successful in facilitating the launch of many new video services. However, more expensive equipment would be required for cable to begin delivering innovations such as high definition television services, which are being gradually supplied by off-air broadcast stations as well as cable networks like HBO, Showtime, Discovery, and ESPN.
The findings of a research funded by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing in 2002 were mainly reflected in the cable landscape by 2002. (CTAM). According to the survey, almost two out of every three households in the United States had access to three cutting-edge communication tools: cable television, cell phones, and personal computers. Digital cable was detected in 18 percent of U.S. television homes, implying a 27 percent overall digital cable penetration among cable customers. In terms of data services, the study found that 20% of cable customers with PCs now use high-speed modems.
Cable providers with updated two-way plant have seen a significant increase in revenue “data “broadband” Cable has quickly surpassed rival technologies, such as phone companies’ digital subscriber line (DSL) service, as the technology of choice for such services, outperforming them by a factor of two. By the end of the third quarter of 2002, more than 10 million people had signed up for high-speed Internet access via cable modems.
In all of the restricted market locations where cable-based telephone service was available, there was noticeable growth. By the middle of 2002, more than 2 million subscribers had switched to cable for their phone service.
Cable companies are aggressively increasing their digital cable offerings in order to meet rising demand. Around 280 nationally-delivered cable networks were accessible in 2002, with the number rapidly increasing.
A “plug-and-play” agreement between the consumer electronics and cable industries was achieved at the end of 2002, allowing “one-way” digital television sets to be linked directly to cable systems without the use of a set-top box. Digital Cable Ready television sets are the brand name for these new TVs (DCRs). Cable operators supply cable customers with a security device known as a CableCARD that allows them to access encrypted digital programming after the cable operator has given them permission to do so. Discussions to overcome concerns relating to “The use of “two-way” digital television sets began in 2003 and is still going strong.
In 2003, significant progress was achieved in the implementation of High-Definition Television (HDTV), Video-on-Demand (VOD), digital cable, and other sophisticated services, propelling the digital TV transition forward. With the introduction of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services by cable, competitive digital phone service gained traction. At the beginning of 2006, cable providers had a total of around 5 million telephone users, which included both VoIP and classic circuit switched telephone consumers.
According to an NCTA assessment of the top ten MSOs, 700 CableCARDs had been installed by September 1, 2004. By mid-November, the total number of CableCARDs had risen to over 5,000. NCTA predicted that number had risen to 100,000 a year later, at the end of 2005.
The results at the conclusion of the third quarter of 2005 show that cable’s new role as a broadband provider has a lot of room for expansion. Cable has spent more than $100 billion on capital projects. Cable’s high-speed Internet service had 24.3 million users at the end of the quarter, while the number of digital cable consumers had increased to 27.6 million.
Cable now serves millions of people with visual entertainment, Internet access, and digital phone service. What started with a few visionary pioneers over half a century ago has resulted in the creation of over 800 programming networks that are watched by over 93 percent of Americans. They also offer fantastic Internet speeds of up to 2 GBPS, with those speeds steadily increasing.
Cable operators have reimagined television, creating programming that follows our customers wherever they go.
It doesn’t matter where you are or what gadget you’re using.
In the previous 20 years, cable operators have invested over $275 billion in infrastructure and supported over 2.9 million employment.
When did cable TV become mainstream?
In 1948, cable television became available in the United States for the first time. By 1989, 53 million American households had subscribed to cable television, with 60 percent of all American households having done so by 1992. with According to SNL Kagan data, around 58.4 percent of all American homes subscribed to basic cable television services in 2006. The majority of cable watchers in the United States are middle-class and live in the suburbs; cable television is less frequent in low-income, urban, and rural areas.
Was there cable TV in the 70s?
The rise of cable television frightened the major broadcast television networksABC, CBS, and NBCwhich had dominated American television audiences since the 1940s, when television technology was first introduced. From the start, the networks were concerned about the impact of cable. They claimed that cable TV companies stole their programming by intercepting signals and charging subscribers a fee to provide it. When numerous cable systems began employing new technology to bring in television signals from faraway cities, network complaints became more acute. The essence of cable services altered as a result of this evolution, from just increasing the reception of local TV programs to giving customers with new programming possibilities from distant stations.
The three big networks wanted the FCC to impose rules and limits on cable companies. (The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, is a government organization that oversees and regulates all forms of communication, including radio, television, telephone, and telegraph.) The FCC, on the other hand, was hesitant to step in and develop laws to regulate cable TV for many years following its introduction. The agency was only able to oversee communication technology that functioned over the airwaves, such as radio, under the Communications Act of 1934. Cable, on the other hand, was a hybrid (combination) communication technology that delivered over-the-air signals over fixed cables. The FCC determined in 1956 that it lacked the jurisdiction to regulate cable since it did not use the airwaves. However, by 1962, the agency had changed its mind. Because cable had an impact on broadcast television, which the FCC was supposed to encourage and promote, the FCC asserted regulatory control over cable.
In a 1965 document titled “First Cable Television Report and Order,” the FCC published the first formal cable television guidelines. The agency published its “Second Cable Television Report and Order” the following year. These two sets of laws, when combined, effectively limited cable TV companies to tiny, local markets not served by the big broadcast networks. “Must carry” restrictions obliged cable providers to carry local broadcast signals, and “nonduplication” requirements barred cable operators from bringing in programming from distant stations that were already available through local channels. These guidelines were deemed necessary by the FCC commissioners in order for broadcast networks to maintain control over national television audiences.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced new regulations in 1969 that further stifled the spread of cable television. These regulations barred cable TV companies from entering urban markets where they would face direct competition from broadcast networks. The laws also required cable operators to provide channels for local residents to air their own content, tying them closer to rural communities. Finally, in order to safeguard broadcasters, the FCC imposed content restrictions on cable television. Cable systems, for example, were not allowed to broadcast films that were less than 10 years old or sporting events that had occurred within the previous five years.
Despite the FCC’s attempts, cable television grew in popularity. In 1970, the United States had 2,500 cable TV systems serving 4.5 million users. Around this time, a number of community organizations and educational institutions began to voice their dissatisfaction with the government’s restrictions on cable television. They argued that cable had the potential to provide Americans with new social, educational, and entertainment services. They contended that the FCC limitations hurt the public interest by prohibiting cable from attaining its full potential in order to safeguard the interests of big broadcast networks.
How much did cable TV cost in the 1980s?
Furthermore, pay television is also competing with a broader range of “basic” cable networks and regional pay sports channels, which are attracting an increasing number of viewers.
“Pay TV is flat to down as a result of the proliferation of more networks and customer choices,” admits Tony Cox, president of Showtime. There were just four cable networks when paid television began in the mid-1970s. There are now 69.
Pay-per-view, which can transport movies into the home before they are accessible on pay TV, is also in the future.
As a result, the two major pay television networks are pursuing different tactics to slowing their expansion.
HBO is establishing itself as a “brand name,” with plans to expand into original programming, while Showtime is pushing for major changes in pay television pricing.
The current plight of pay television can be traced back to the heady days of the 1980s, when HBO and Showtime waged “exclusivity wars” to win pay television rights to Hollywood films. The policy, which aimed to set itself apart from the competition by ensuring that the same film did not air on both channels, did not come without a cost.
Over the next seven years, Showtime plans to spend $2.3 billion on movies. Showtime Networks Inc., which is owned by Viacom Inc. and includes Showtime and the Movie Channel, lost money between 1987 and 1989 as a result of these programming costs. It hopes to be moderately profitable this year.
“It’s not a fantastic business even in good times,” admits one senior Showtime executive.
HBO, which is owned by Time Warner Inc. and has yearly revenues of more than $1 billion, has seen its pretax profit margin fluctuate between 9% and 13% in previous years.
However, the two pay television competitors can no longer compete by slamming each other (although Viacom still has a $2.4 billion antitrust case against Time Warner and HBO ongoing).
HBO and Showtime are attempting to persuade the cable industry that paid television is still feasible in the face of increased competition from upstart cable channels.
HBO and Showtime, for example, are not concerned about their programming. They continue to receive high ratings, frequently outperforming one of the Big Three networks during prime time among pay TV households.
“Hundreds of millions of homes still do not have HBO,” Fuchs argues. “However, I’m not getting that business by making another made-for-TV film.” It’s only by thrashing those folks.”
Showtime and HBO are now working on subscriber retention in addition to increased pounding. Each month, up to 4.5 percent of HBO’s customers unsubscribe, implying that the pay TV channel must replace almost half of its subscriber base on an annual basisratios comparable to the mature magazine industry.
Pay TV CEOs are ready to point the finger at deregulation as the root of their troubles. “The problem with our growth is entirely due to marketing and positioning.” “The hike in cable pricing has harmed us,” Cox claims.
According to Paul Kagan Associates, the average monthly cost of basic cable increased from $8 to $16 between 1980 and 1989. Customers must “buy through” the basic package on most local cable systems before purchasing their first pay TV channel, which normally costs an extra $10 per month.
“Basic prices have risen considerably, and this is the primary cause for the pay TV slowdown,” says HBO’s Fuchs.
In certain regions, forcing users to acquire a package of basic channelswhich may include channels they don’t want to watchhas reached absurd levels. Cable consumers in several New York suburbs on Long Island and in Connecticut, for example, must spend $60 per month to get Showtime.
However, according to Robert Klingensmith, head of Paramount Video, the studio’s arm that sells movies to pay television, VCRs have harmed pay television as well. “Because these films are no longer first in the home with home video, customers are saying, ‘I don’t need all of these services.'”
Nonetheless, most cable executives believe that “marketplace mechanics” are impeding pay television, which is why marketing has become the new motto for pay television. In fact, the pay providers are having to spend ever-increasing quantities of money just to stay afloat. Pay TV executives point out that this is similar to many established products, which require companies to budget 15% of sales just to maintain market share.
Part of the reason why pay TV channels rely on marketing is that they have no other option.
“One of pay television’s biggest concerns is that the programming cannot be modified because the majority of the expense is long-term output arrangements with the studios,” says analyst Gerbrandt.
“They have no flexibility in that sense,” he argues, “therefore the only thing they can directly control is the product’s marketing.”
HBO will spend $150 million on marketing next year, primarily on advertising and promotion. One-third of money is set aside for buying broadcast network advertisement time for a “image campaign.” HBO has also grown to be one of the country’s largest direct-mail advertisers.
While HBO spends money to promote itself, Showtime is working behind the scenes to modify the way basic and pay TV channels are packaged by local cable operators. “I don’t believe any amount of advertising on behalf of our brand will be enough to solve our industry’s inherent difficulties,” Cox says.
Showtime has suggested a major overhaul of the wholesale license payments it charges local cable companies. Showtime and HBO have traditionally charged local cable systems between $4 and $5 per subscriber. At the retail level, the local system frequently more than doubles that rate.
However, a new concept floated by Showtime in recent weeks would levy a tiny cost to every basic subscriber, rather than the $4 to $5 price charged primarily to those who pay for the pay channel.
“The notion is that by lowering the price, Showtime will be able to significantly improve its penetration,” says Mark Riely, a partner at MacDonald Gripo Riely, a New York investment firm.
Most local cable operators have resisted the Showtime proposal so far because it threatens their short-term profit margins. Few local systems, many of which are highly leveraged because to recent ownership changes, can afford to make such a sacrifice in the current economic climate.
Local systems, the bulk of which are controlled by or linked with huge “multiple system operators,” or MSOs, are instead experimenting with their own methods of marketing pay television. United Artist Entertainment, a Denver-based MSO, is now offering pay channel annual subscriptions at certain of its local systems across the country. Customers will receive a discount if they purchase a year’s worth of pay channel service in advance, similar to how periodicals have done for years.
“It’s imperative to come up with marketing innovations as a category matures,” says Jerry Maglio, senior vice president of marketing at United Artist Entertainment.
HBO and Showtime’s fate is largely in the hands of MSOs and local cable companies, over which they have no control. “The issue is that pay networks have to promote around the operators, and the operators have never been very effective marketers,” says one studio executive with experience in the pay TV industry.
Pay TV executives also believe that MSOs and local cable systems prefer basic channels to pay channels because MSOs often hold one or more of the basic channels.
Local cable systems really generate more money through basic than they do from pay because basic has considerably larger margins. Basic revenue accounts for roughly 70% of a local system’s revenue, while pay accounts for 30%. In addition, half of off-air pay TV income go to the network, compared to 20% to 25% for basic channels.
HBO and Showtime were commonly used as an incentive to get cable TV in the early to mid-1980s, along with greater reception. CNN, ESPN, USA Network, Discovery Channel, and TNT were either not yet started or couldn’t afford the type of programming that would draw people.
“As basic channels grow more popular and offer better programming, they draw viewers away from both broadcast networks and pay channels,” says Marc Nathanson, president of Falcon Cable TV in Los Angeles. “HBO and Showtime didn’t have as much competition from cable five years ago.”
Pay-per-view television may be more problematic. For $3 to $5 per viewing, PPV, which is now accessible in 27% of cable TV homes, allows viewers access to blockbuster films several months before they air on pay TV.
Riely thinks that “PPV will take over the function that pay TV began with in the 1970s and 1980s: premium exposure of unedited films on TV.” Pay TV, he believes, will become more like basic networks in the future, with a greater selection of shows than movies and probably some type of advertising.
HBO has already taken the first steps in this manner. Despite the fact that large Hollywood movies will continue to be the channel’s backbone, Fuchs is pushing the channel towards original programming, high-profile specials, and sports. These shows, particularly comedy specials and boxing fights, are then promoted as “events” and used to entice viewers to subscribe.
“We have to offer more daring programming now,” Fuchs says, referring to adult sitcom “Dream On” and documentary series like “Real Sex.” One lasting benefit of paid television is that it may air programs with violence or nudity that networks and basic cable channels would not touch.
However, few experts believe that sex, violence, and sports will be enough to propel pay television to the same levels of popularity as it was in the 1980s. Furthermore, HBO and Showtime have long-term contracts to purchase Hollywood films, leaving little money for alternative programming.
Analyst Gerbrandt observes, “Nobody put a gun to their heads.” “They each held a gun to the other’s head.”
What was the first cable TV company?
A quiet, remote Pennsylvania valley seems an odd location for a communications revolution. Nonetheless, the sweeping mountains that cut across Pennsylvania’s heartland set the stage for a watershed technological breakthroughone that has transformed the way America and the modern world communicate. This technological achievement was originally known as “Community Antenna Television,” but it is now known as cable television.
Mahanoy City, a small town in Schuylkill County, is nestled in the valley. Mahanoy City residents, like the rest of America in the 1940s, got their TV from broadcast antennas. These antennae wirelessly transmit TV signals from the area’s major cities. Unfortunately for the residents of Mahanoy City and other remote regions, their gorgeous mountain ranges made receiving a good TV signal via traditional antennas nearly difficult. That all changed when a local man set out to find good TV signals in places where no one imagined they could be found. John Walson was the name of the native. Walson worked as an appliance salesman in the 1930s before pioneering cable television and starting his own company. Walson addressed his fourteen years as a repairman with the Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. in an interview with Mary Mayer for The Cable Center, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of cable television. This endeavor, according to Walson, sparked his interest in communication poles and electric appliances.
When the Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. decided to exit the appliance business in 1945, Walson chose to use his knowledge and experience to enter the electronics market on his own. In the same interview with Mary Mayer of The Cable Center, Walson stated that he purchased a franchise from the Lara Electric Co. in Williamsport and began selling appliances.
Was there cable in the 80s?
The most of my first television recollections are linked to my family’s relocation to Georgia in February 1983. Our first cable box, which stood on top of our television set, was beige with a silver dial. “Summit” was the name of our cable company, I believe. On the back of the cable box was a sticker with a blue outline of mountains on a white backdrop.
The living room upstairs and the “rec” room downstairs both had televisions. The upstairs television belonged to our father, but we used it to watch Saturday morning cartoons. We normally watched our mom’s television set downstairs for our after-school television lineups the rest of the week. I wouldn’t obtain my own television until the early 2000s, when I graduated from college.
When we originally moved into our house in Georgia, we had both basic cable television and paid channels. Along with the “Big Three” networks, TBS Superstation, HBO, Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, USA Network, TBS Superstation, and WGN were our most watched channels. Later on, we’d add MTV and VH-1 to the mix, and let’s face it, those stations are deserving of their own articles.
These are some of my favorite cable television stations from the early 1980s, as well as the memories I have associated with them.
How many TV channels were there in 1970?
The three networks of the 1940s, NBC, CBS, and ABC, were merely “networks” in name. All of the programming was produced in real time in New York. The networks had no choice but to point a film camera at a television screen and convert video to film in order to distribute the programming to the rest of the country. The kinescopes, or 16mm films, were then reproduced and shipped to the few connected stations for later transmission. Most programming was local due to need, and cookery shows, wrestling, and cartoons make up the majority of the broadcast day.
When AT&T finished laying a system of coaxial cables from coast to coast, the networks became actual networks. Coax, the now-familiar cables that connect cable TV wall outlets to modern tuners, has enough bandwidth, or electrical carrying capacity, to carry hundreds or perhaps thousands of phone calls in addition to television signals.
For the first time, television news was able to broadcast live from Philadelphia the Republican and Democratic conventions to the rest of the country in 1952. The significance of that event for rural America extended beyond the fact that rural residents were aware of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson’s presidential campaign in real time.
- The final traces of isolation in rural America were broken by TV transmissions that could reach the farthest reaches of the United States.
- There was a common national experience since popular TV series, news, and sporting events were broadcast across the country. Researchers discovered that practically everyone was discussing about important broadcast events the day after they occurred. There was a sense of national dialogue, even if they weren’t saying the same things.
- Regional cultural disparities were ironed out thanks to television’s combined visual and aural experience, especially following the introduction of color television in the early 1960s. Regional subcultures were co-opted by a more generalized “American” culture.
- Rural populations were more familiar with different places thanks to television, making migration even more tempting.
Between 1949 and 1969, the number of American households having at least one television set increased from under a million to 44 million. Commercial television stations increased from 69 to 566. Advertiser payments to these TV stations and networks increased from $58 million to $1.5 billion.
Between 1959 and 1970, the proportion of American households with at least one television increased from 88 percent to 96 percent. There were over 700 UHF and VHF television stations in 1970; currently, there are over 1,300. By 1970, ad revenues at TV stations and networks were $3.6 billion; now, that amount has risen to more than $60 billion.
Television programming has had a significant influence on American and international culture. The 1950s have been termed the “Golden Age of Television” by many critics. Because television sets were expensive, the audience was predominantly wealthy. Television producers were aware of this, and they were aware that serious dramas on Broadway were drawing this demographic. As a result, the producers began producing Broadway shows in TV studios. Later, Broadway playwrights such as Paddy Chayefsky, Reggie Rose, and J. P. Miller adapted their works for television. Marty, Twelve Angry Men, and Days of Wine and Roses, respectively, were all turned into successful films.
As the number of TV-owning homes grew and extended to other parts of society, more diverse content became available. Formats borrowed from radio included situation comedies and variety shows. After years of toiling on the stages, former vaudeville artists like Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Jackie Gleason achieved stardom. Ernie Kovacs was a master of the sight gag and one of the first comedians to truly understand and use the technology of television.
Quiz shows grew popular in the 1950s until a scandal erupted. To add to the drama, producers of “The $64,000 Question” provided an enticing contender with the answers to difficult trivia questions for three years.
Many of the genres that are familiar to today’s audiences were pioneered during this time, including westerns, children’s shows, situation comedies, sketch comedy, game shows, dramas, news, and sports programming.
Television news throughout the 1950s and 1960s gave some of its best performances. Sen. Joseph McCarthy utilized innuendo and unfounded claims to exploit the country’s fear of Communism, according to Edward R. Murrow. Kennedy’s election triumph was linked to the televised debates between him and Nixon.
Live coverage of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and filmed coverage of the civil rights movement brought those issues into sharp relief.
When President John F. Kennedy was slain on November 22, 1963, most Americans went on their televisions to see what had happened. Days and days of airtime were devoted to coverage of the tragedy, the funeral, and the aftermath by the networks. On Sunday morning, November 24, many Americans (who may have returned home early from church) were watching live coverage of Jack Ruby’s assassination of suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Later, coverage of the Vietnam Combat was attributed with bringing war into individuals’ living rooms for the first time. “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the country,” President Lyndon B. Johnson was quoted as saying after CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite editorialized against the war. Johnson chose not to run for re-election after finding he had lost the support of key Wall Street figures within weeks.
However, television provided a lot of escapism at the time. Perhaps in response to NASA’s space program, producers added science fiction to the mix of genres on television. Some of the most enduring reruns in television history were created during this time period. The best example is “Star Trek.”
It’s amazing that, in the midst of the tumult of the 1960s, some of the most popular series were firmly situated in a rural past that was swiftly fading, if it ever existed.
With its small town sheriff, his son, his deputy, and a cast of stereotyped rural people, the “Andy Griffith Show” was the fourth most popular show on television in 1960. It remained in the top ten every year until 1967, when it reached number one.
Then, in 1962, came the “Beverly Hillbillies.” The premise was straightforward. Farmer Jed Clampett discovers oil on his worthless farm and goes to California with his daughter Elly May, nephew Jethro, Granny, all of their belongings, and millions of cash, in a scene that was disturbingly similar of images of Depression-era Okies going to California.
Paul Henning, a Midwesterner from Missouri who spent 30 years in Hollywood mining his country roots, produced the show, which was an incredible bit of absurdity. The “Beverly Hillbillies” soared to the top of the ratings in its first two years on the air and remained in the top fifteen for the remainder of the decade. The show has been described as “equal parts Steinbeck and absurdism, the nouveau riche-out-of-water” by critics.
From 1963 to 1970, Henning produced “Petticoat Junction” and from 1965 to 1971, “Green Acres.” Both performances were practically as popular as each other. The petticoats in the first show belonged to Kate Bradley’s blonde, brunette, and redheaded daughters, Billie Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Betty Jo, who ran the Shady Grove Hotel. The girls provided plenty of fodder for thinly veiled farmer’s daughters jokes, and the hotel’s isolation produced a rustic setting that no longer existed in reality.
“Green Acres” took the absurdity even further. There is one fan website, “A flat-out assault against Cartesian logic, Newtonian physics, and Harvard-centrist positivism,” the show is described as “memorable television.” In search of the greening of America and high Jeffersonian ideals, lawyer Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) and his socialite wife Lisa (Eva Gabor) arrive to Hooterville. Instead, they find a virtual parallel reality of unbridled surrealism, replete with gifted pigs, square chicken eggs, and abiogenetic hotcakes, a universe that Lisa recognizes right away and leaves Oliver perplexed.”
Beulah Gocke (left) was one of many rural inhabitants who enjoyed the programs’ inventive absurdity. “They made fun of us,” she admits, “but being able to laugh at yourself is part of having a nice personality.”
William Luebbe (right) boasts that two of his sons have attended college and one holds a doctorate. The television programs “Farmers were represented as being backward and illiterate. That, however, was not fair to the farmers.” In his entire life, William has only owned two television sets.
The strange popularity of these country events was noticed even by critics at the time. “A few TV critics claim that many newly affluent Americans, befuddled by the technological ’60s, regard themselves as stupid hillbillies adrift in suburbia,” Newsweek wrote in 1969.
After the show’s star, Bea Benaderet, who played Kate, died of cancer in 1970, “Petticoat Junction” was canceled. Despite continuous high ratings, CBS opted to eliminate the “Beverly Hillbillies” and “Green Acres” the following year in order to appeal to a younger Baby Boomer demographic. Instead, “M*A*S*H,” “All in the Family,” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” were produced by the network.
The Ganzel Group’s Bill Ganzel wrote this. The book was first released in 2007. A limited list of sources can be found here.
How many TV channels were there in 1960?
Kennedy appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today Show later that election season “When Nixon campaigned for president again in 1968, he made a brief cameo on the sketch comedy show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” when he said the show’s famous slogan, “Sock it to me.” It was the first time a presidential contender had made an appearance on a sketch comedy show.
Nixon insisted for the remainder of his life that his participation on “Laugh-In” helped him win the 1968 presidential election.
So, while television may have cost Nixon the election the first time around, it could very well have won him the election the second time around.
If you liked President Barack Obama’s appearances on the Today Show, “You can thank Richard Nixon for “The Tonight Show” and “Letterman.”
Watch the controversial “Tonight Show” tomahawk demo from the episode “The Sixties: Television Comes of Age.”
2. The emergence of television journalism
Television was significantly behind print journalism in terms of news sources used by audiences prior to the Kennedy presidency. People began to rely on television news for day-to-day headlines as well as information on American troops in Vietnam, particularly the number of those killed or injured.
When something significant happened on television, it influenced the entire country at the same moment.
The polar opposite of entertainment television was television news. The civil rights movement, the assassination of JFK, and the space race all played out on television.
According to David Brinkley, “The American people were shown to the American people on television.”
83 million Americans were glued to their televisions at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, as 10,000 antiwar protesters outside the Chicago Hilton screamed, “The entire world is keeping an eye on you! As police forced the throng off Chicago’s Balbo Drive, they chanted, “The whole world is watching!”
3. Television reaches a larger audience.
During the decade, there were only three networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC), and most households had just one television set. There weren’t any “warnings that say “for mature audiences only.”
Shows like “The Dick van Dyke Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show” replaced the sugary sitcoms of the 1950s. Although there were still the same romanticized images of humanity as the previous decade, these depicted more realistic scenarios.
Griffith has remarked that he infused the best aspects of himself and the people in his life into the residents of Mayberry in order to produce a blend of emotional honesty and laughter. For decades, its model functioned as the gold standard for sitcoms.
When did cable TV start in NYC?
The number of television sets in use in the United States increased from a few thousand to almost 60 million between 1945 and 1960. Despite the fact that many of the programs aired originated in New York City, many residents of Gotham had to deal with gradually deteriorating signal reception. New structures in the city’s vertically expanding city obstructed or reflected over-the-air signals, resulting in a blurred, speared, or distorted image. Living on the Upper West Side during the “BC” (Before Cable) era, one inhabitant compared viewing television to “going sightseeing in a heavy fog.” Building a Community Antenna Television (CATV) system was one of the answers to the problem. This meant putting up a master antenna in a good spot and then wiring coaxial wire from the antenna into individual residences, ensuring that the signal was not obstructed.
In 1962, New York City became the first city in the world to have cable television. Sterling Information Services, a subsidiary of Sterling Movies USA (later renamed Sterling Communications, Inc.), built a television studio and installed a coaxial cable system in that year, linking it to several hotels in Manhattan using the Empire City Subway Company’s existing ducts. Tourists and other out-of-town visitors may use the system to get information on the different events and attractions that New York has to offer. The service was especially effective during the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, which encouraged other big cities to adopt similar systems.
What was cable before Comcast?
Comcast, or Comcast Corporation, is a significant American provider of cable television, entertainment, and communications goods and services. It was formerly known as American Cable Systems (196369).