The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States

9780292752733: Paperback
Release Date: 1st June 2003

5 tables

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 245

Series Texas Film and Media Studies Series

University of Texas Press

The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States

Revolution or Evolution?

Paperback / £20.99

Winner, McGannon Communications Research Award, 2004

In 1971, the Sloan Commission on Cable Communications likened the ongoing developments in cable television to the first uses of movable type and the invention of the telephone. Cable's proponents in the late 1960s and early 1970s hoped it would eventually remedy all the perceived ills of broadcast television, including lowest-common-denominator programming, inability to serve the needs of local audiences, and failure to recognize the needs of cultural minorities. Yet a quarter century after the "blue sky" era, cable television programming closely resembled, and indeed depended upon, broadcast television programming. Whatever happened to the Sloan Commission's "revolution now in sight"?

In this book, Megan Mullen examines the first half-century of cable television to understand why cable never achieved its promise as a radically different means of communication. Using textual analysis and oral, archival, and regulatory history, she chronicles and analyzes cable programming developments in the United States during three critical stages of the medium's history: the early community antenna (CATV) years (1948-1967), the optimistic "blue sky" years (1968-1975), and the early satellite years (1976-1995). This history clearly reveals how cable's roots as a retransmitter of broadcast signals, the regulatory constraints that stymied innovation, and the economic success of cable as an outlet for broadcast or broadcast-type programs all combined to defeat most utopian visions for cable programming.

  • Preface
  • 1. Cable History and Television Theory
  • 2. Community Antenna Television, 1948-1968
  • 3. New Directions for Cable, 1968-1974
  • 4. The Rise of Satellite Cable, 1975-1980
  • 5. Broadcast Television's Resource-Starved Imitator, 1980-1995: Part I
  • 6. A Scheduling and Programming Innovator, 1980-1995: Part II
  • 7. Cable Television's Past, Present, and Future
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

Megan Mullen is Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Parkside.

"This is an important contribution to the literature on media history and institutions. The book also is written in an accessible style and definitely not aimed only at those in media or communication studies."

Janet Wasko, author of Hollywood in the Information Age: Beyond the Silver Screen

McGannon Communications Research Award - 2004