Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pay TV

This was a precursor to such services as HBO and Cinemax. It worked like this: You wanted to watch uncut movies at home. And this was long before low priced videocassettes had been introduced. You called up one of the Pay TV providers. The Los Angeles area had three...
  • Z-Channel (began in 1974, used a low power channel... not available outside Los Angeles)
  • ON-TV (began in 1977, used facilities of KBSC-TV, channel 52, in Glendale)
  • SelecTV (began in 1978, used facilities of KWHY-TV, channel 22, in Los Angeles... in 1984 it merged with ON-TV and broadcast on channel 22)

Charges were $19-25 a month (more if hard core pornography was desired). At first, channels 52 and 22 showed their regular programming and at 7:00, the picture would become scrambled, prompting subscribers to turn them on and watch movies until the next broadcast day began at 6:00 AM. In the wee hours, there would be another scrambling of the picture, for the porn subscribers.

In the movie. American Pie (1999), one of the characters is seen trying to watch scrambled movies. It was pornography on over-the-air pay television. Now you know.

Pay TV ended in 1991, when everyone started getting cable.

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