Why Was Cable TV Invented?

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.

The 1960s

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 1970s

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 1980s

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.

The 1990s

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.

and Beyond

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.

Why is cable TV important?

Since its inception in the late 1940s, when it was primarily employed to extend the reach of traditional over-the-air television broadcasts, cable television has gone a long way. Sharon Strover identified cable as a “cultural force” that impacted people’s perceptions of television in her piece “Cable Television” for the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Far from being merely a rebroadcast service, cable evolved into a significant method of communication in its own right, resulting in significant changes in the television business.

National cable networks produced a wide range of original programming in the early 2000s. Hundreds more cable channels supplied news, sports, music, movies, and other forms of entertainment, in addition to ABC, NBC, and CBS, which continued to produce successful shows. The cable networks broadcast programming tailored to the specific interests of tiny, niche audiences. The multiplicity of cable options also led to changes in television viewing habits by encouraging Americans to surf, or move swiftly, between channels.

Cable channels began to lure people away from broadcast networks as the quality of cable programming improved. During the decade from 1983 to 1994, for example, broadcast networks’ proportion of weekly television viewership fell from 69 to 52 percent, while cable networks’ share grew from 9 to 26 percent. In various time periods during the 2000s, cable networks actually outperformed broadcast networks in terms of ratings. During the summer months, when broadcast networks often screen reruns, cable channels drew particularly large audiences (repeated episodes of programs that had aired earlier). Cable networks won the ratings for the fifth year in a row in the summer of 2005, nearly doubling the audience share obtained by broadcast networks, from 60.9 to 32.4 percent.

Despite these achievements, cable television faced substantial obstacles in the early twenty-first century. Satellite services, for example, continued to compete fiercely with cable providers, offering users more channels and interactive features than cable. Furthermore, more telephone companies and Internet service providers were expected to enter the television industry. Cable operators also faced persistent fee and content issues, as well as the need to upgrade their facilities and equipment.

Cable TV showed promise in the early 2000s, particularly in the field of digital services. Cable companies may now offer more channels, better picture quality, and new interactive services thanks to digital compression of television signals. As a result, digital cable service subscribers increased from 9.7 million in 2000 to 19.2 million in 2002. Cable companies have also expanded their offerings to include long-distance calls and Internet access for its subscribers.

The evolution of cable television has wrought significant changes in the television industry, according to history. However, as other competitors adapted to take advantage of these changes, cable providers found themselves unable to stay up. “The cable industry recreated the television universe of the ‘Big Three,’ unsettling their grasp on programming and viewers and launching a 24-hour… realm,” Strover said. “As the greater video media industry evolves, the cable sector’s boundaries, roles, and influences will shift as well, but the historical legacy of its achievements will undoubtedly endure.”

When did cable TV become widespread?

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.

What was the single major influence on the growth of cable television?

The Networks Face a Challenge from Cable The rapid rise of cable television networks was influenced by two major factors: industry deregulation and the deployment of satellites to distribute local TV stations across the country.

Who invented cable television?

The United States Congress and the National Cable Television Association credit John Walson Sr. (1915–1993) of Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, as the inventor of cable television in the spring of 1948.

Walson, the proprietor of a General Electric appliance store in Mahanoy City, was having trouble getting signals from Philadelphia television stations, which were being obstructed by the nearby mountains.

Walson installed an antenna on a utility pole on a nearby mountainside so that he could display his televisions with strong broadcasts from the three Philadelphia stations. He used a cable to connect the antenna to his appliance store and adjusted signal enhancers. He then linked a number of his customers who lived near the cable path. This was the country’s first community antenna television (CATV) system.

Walson’s business grew over time, and he is now known as the father of the cable television industry. He was also the first cable operator to employ microwave to bring in distant television stations, to use coaxial cable to increase picture quality, and to provide pay television content.

How did cable TV impact the 80’s culture?

In the 1980s, the “big three” networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—continued to dominate American television, despite increased competition from cable TV providers and a fourth network, FOX, which debuted in 1985. With their market share dwindling, the networks attempted to diversify their programming and extend their broadcast hours. However, network programming remained safe and uncontroversial in general. Roseanne (1988–1997), a situation comedy (sitcom) about a working-class family that explored themes of class, race, and sexuality, was an exception to this trend. The Cosby Show (1984–92), Dallas (1978–91), Cheers (1982–93), Miami Vice (1984–89), Dynasty (1981–89), and Knots Landing (1979–93) were the most popular shows of the decade, along with Roseanne.

In the 1980s, cable television had an even greater impact on television programming. More cable stations were able to transmit countrywide because to the availability of telecommunications satellites. During the decade, an increasing number of Americans acquired access to cable programming. HBO, Showtime, The Movie Channel, ESPN, MTV, VH1, and a slew of other cable networks gave the major three networks stiff competition. CNN altered television news programming when it began providing 24-hour news coverage in 1980. CNN was known at the end of the decade for being first on the scene at many significant news events.

Radio was still a major news and entertainment medium. In actuality, according to a poll conducted in the 1980s, 99 percent of American families owned a radio (compared to 98 percent who owned a television), and the average American household had 5.5 radios (excluding car radios). FM radio stations became the most popular in the 1980s due to their superior sound quality. Many cities had FM stations that broadcast a wide range of music, including jazz, classical, rock and roll, and country. AM stations began to offer “discussion shows” in greater numbers. During the 1980s, these shows tended to become politicized along political lines. Rush Limbaugh (c. 1951–) began his career as a conservative talk show host in the 1980s. In the 1980s, the more liberal National Public Radio (NPR) was the most popular national radio network, reaching more Americans than any other.

Why is it called cable TV?

Cable, like broadcast TV, gets its name from the way it’s delivered to you: coaxial or fiber-optic wires. Unlike networks, cable channels such as AMC, USA, TNT, FX, Freeform, and others are not reliant on local affiliates and have complete control over their programming schedule. These channels rely on ad income to survive, so while they still play original programming during primetime on Sundays and Fridays, they supplement with reruns and bought programs.

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 basis—ratios 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 channels—which may include channels they don’t want to watch—has 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.”

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.

When did cable TV start in Canada?

The Broadcast Relay Service began discussions in 1949 for the implementation of what would be North America’s first large-scale cable television system. The system’s development hinged on a deal with the Quebec Hydro-Electric Commission to use their existing network of power poles to supply power to the Montreal metropolitan area. On June 21, 1949, a meeting with the Montreal City Council kicked off the initial negotiations. On February 28, 1950, Hydro Quebec and Rediffusion Inc. secured an agreement for an initial five-year period after months of negotiations. In 1952, the Rediffusion cable system went live, eventually serving 80,000 houses in Montreal, Quebec.

In 1952, community antenna hookups in Vancouver and London launched cable television in Canada; it is unclear whether city was the first to do so. Initially, the systems provided American stations to Canadian viewers who didn’t have access to any Canadian stations; broadcast television, which began in Toronto and Montreal late in 1952, didn’t reach the majority of cities until 1954.

Cable television became widely used throughout time to carry both local and imported American stations, which accounted for the vast bulk of signals on systems (usually only one or two Canadian stations, while some systems had duplicate or even triplicate coverage of American networks). During the 1970s, an increasing number of Canadian stations forced American stations off the air, causing several to expand beyond their initial 12-channel system layouts. Simultaneously, the introduction of fiber-optic technology allowed businesses to extend their systems to surrounding towns and villages that were not viable cable television markets on their own. Regional cable services in Saskatchewan, such as Telecable (now Shaw Communications) and Cable Regina (now Access Communications), began to emerge in 1977-78, offering for the first time access to American networks, though a third system, CPN, which offered specialty channels such as HBO, failed after two years.

In 1983, specialty cable channels became available, and systems continued to extend and increase their channel capacity, particularly by laying fiber-optics to transmit signals as far as neighborhoods before switching to coaxial cable for the final run to the customer’s home. The usage of fiber optic connections as early as the 1970s does not suggest that cable companies were employing digital methods to transport signals, as many modern viewers believe. As early as the 1970s, methods for transmitting analog television over fiber-optic cabling utilizing frequency division multiplexing were developed and utilized. Digital signaling is a significantly more recent technology, having only been introduced in the early 2000s. Larger systems might use “addressable” descramblers to offer pay television services and multiple tiers of channels, and two-way capabilities were added.

In the late 1990s, DTH satellite services began to pose a serious threat to cable television. In most parts of Canada, telephone companies and cable television providers have been allowed to compete for services that were previously provided by the other. Although cable television services are not the primary suppliers of broadband Internet in Canada, they are a formidable rival.

Canadian television stations received regulatory decisions in the early 1970s that obliged cable television providers to substitute their signals with distant (typically American) stations broadcasting the same television show at the same time. This was done to safeguard the stations’ ad sales.

Many systems were originally locally owned, and many large cities had multiple providers, each covering specified areas of the city; these territories were occasionally established by a “gentleman’s agreement” between system owners. There were six separate operators in Hamilton, Ontario. Rogers later bought the firms that ran those two systems, uniting them, a pattern that was replicated elsewhere. London had two, with a rather complicated dividing line in the old south neighborhood; Rogers eventually bought the companies that ran those two systems, merging them. Companies in the same community collaborated to manage the community channel even before mergers.

Most major city systems were quickly consolidated and acquired by a small number of huge corporations as a result of a long series of mergers and acquisitions. Some of the major corporations even appealed to regulators for authorization to swap systems in order to combine their operations: Shaw sold systems in eastern Canada to Rogers, and Rogers bought Shaw’s systems in western Canada.

Companies such as Rogers, Shaw, Vidéotron, Cogeco, Cable Axion, and EastLink currently supply cable to most cities and villages, depending on the location. Because the CRTC has generally permitted just one cable provider per market, most of these “first-generation” cable businesses do not compete with one another. Even in markets where many distributors have been licensed, each has their own exclusive zone.