Community Antenna Television

December 16, 1964

Report Outline
New Factor in the Television Industry
Fears and Threats in Growth of Catv
Problems in Regulating Antenna Systems

New Factor in the Television Industry

Rapid growth of community antenna television systems presages a significant change in operations of the nation's television industry. CATV is expected to have far-reaching effects on the cost, quality and variety of television fare available to the home viewer. In its early days, community antenna systems served primarily to bring television to homes otherwise too remote to receive any TV signal. Community antenna facilities then began to move into communities already served by local stations but not able to get programs from more distant stations. Now CATV is beginning to penetrate large cities, while expanding its capacity to pick up programs from ever-greater distances.

Some persons think this trend foreshadows a new day of super-television reception, when viewers in all parts of the country—for a monthly fee—will be able to tune in any one of a dozen or more programs, each with a clear, sharp picture and well modulated sound. Others regard expansion of CATV as a threat to “free television” (that is, advertising-supported television), a backdoor route to pay-TV, and a check on growth of the number of stations which could provide listeners with a more diversified choice of TV fare than is now available.

Consideration of Antenna Systems in Congress

The television industry has been perturbed by CATV since it became apparent that the small-scale community antenna operations of a decade ago were growing into large corporate enterprises with ambitions to penetrate densely settled major market areas. Differences in the economic interests of separate segments of the television industry made it difficult for the National Association of Broadcasters, the industry's chief trade organization, to develop firm policies on the many questions raised by CATV development. The Federal Communications Commission, the government's chief TV-regulating agency, has refrained from exerting full authority over community antenna systems, though it has been studying their effect on television as a whole and on the public interest. The result is that CATV growth has taken place with few restraints within an industry which, for the most part, is tightly regulated.

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