Early Cable TV – Superstations

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Emerging Cable Television – Do You Remember? 

If you were around back in the 1970’s, anyone with cable television was pretty hip. Especially, if you didn’t need it; that is, if you could get good reception from local TV stations. But, getting HBO in say, 1977? Way cool! Showtime in 1979? Out of sight!

Geek Brain - WTCG Atlanta

Around 1976, Ted Turner – owner of UHF-TV station channel 17 (WTCG Atlanta) got a brilliant idea to let his independent TV station become available to cable-TV operators everywhere. It was a win-win. In many places – local channels only included CBS, NBC, ABC and maybe PBS. With WTCG-TV they could watch reruns such as “The Brady Bunch.” It was good alternative programming for subs.

cable tv history 1977

Other local independent stations jumped on, what became, the superstation train – stations such as WGN-Chicago, WOR-New York, WPIX-New York and KTVU-Oakland. This was all before – the idea of creating commercial cable-TV channels such as Nick, Discovery and MTV.

WTCG eventually became TBS and the rest, is cable TV history. Turner went on to give us CNN, TNT and  TCM .

cable tv history wtcg

Let’s go to a fascinating video – back in time to 1977. WTCG was proud to show off its new satellite uplink facility. Locally, you could still watch WTCG off your little TV – with a UHF antenna on channel 17. Before satellite – HBO for example – used microwave and phone lines to transmit their signal to cable front ends. Very costly. The RCA Satcom Birds gave cable-TV a nice boost – as little WTCG could now go nationwide.

From 1977 – WTCG Atlanta Shows-Off Satellite Uplink




Gary West

Historian Gary West built his first website in 1998 with www.pophistorynow.com. That addressed now forwards to www.mrpopculture.com - an amazing pop culture/news database with 25,000 pages, covering the years 1955-2014. He's also the author of www.technologynewstimeline.com - covering consumer technology from 1952 to the present. West has been a contributor to numerous books, radio-TV shows, CNN & USA Today & the History Channel.

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