Many people do not realize that cable television has been around since the beginning of television in the United States. Cable television grew out of a need to sell television sets. People were not going to purchase television sets if they had nothing to watch. It has not been established who was first, but communities in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas have claimed to be the first to establish Community Antenna Television (CATV). These communities could not get over-the-air programming with regular television antennas because of geographical limitations. Antennas were erected on top of hills and mountains to receive signals from nearby cities, and then homes in the community were connected via coaxial cable. Appliance stores could sell televisions, and people who bought them had programming to watch (NCTA, n.d.). (See Figure 7.1)

Soon CATV operators began to offer customers distant channels, since their antennas could pick up other stations besides those in the local market. These new channels threatened local broadcast stations, and the FCC responded by limiting the importation of distant channels. Continuing into the early 1970s the FCC responded to concerns of broadcasters and the film industry by limiting cable’s ability to offer any programming other than that offered by local broadcast channels (for example, sports and movies). There was not much growth in cable during this time.