The History of Satellite Television

By: David Johnson
By the time 1975 rolled in, an experimental system was designed and built by BBC transmitter engineer Stephen Birkhill, to receive satellite transmission. The system was named Satellite Instructional Television Experiment or SITE. Satellite signals were transmitted over Indian villages directly from one of NASA’s geostationary satellite. The success of the transmission prompted Birkhill to conduct more experiments and this time, he received television images from Raduga, Intelsat and Molniya satellites. The success of his experiments attracted the attention of other satellite television enthusiasts, giving birth to the Television Receive Only satellite technology. Cable networks also became interested and saw the immense potential of satellite television. By 1978, PBS or the Public Broadcasting Service introduced the very first public television satellite service. The first broadcasts were from channels like HBO, CBN and TBS. Controversies erupted by 1980 when the Federal Communications Commission declared an “open sky" policy.

This declaration was spurned with the belief that satellite signals can be received by anyone and broadcasters should not enjoy exclusive rights. The broadcasters developed methods that scrambled their signals and consumers would have to purchase a decoding device for access. These decoders were the early satellite receivers and were referred to as direct to home satellite receivers. The big satellite dishes were in great demand during this period.

Unfortunately, satellite television experienced major problems. Theft of satellite signals was rampant and many satellite retailers lost business because of this. The only thing that saved satellite television was the conversion from hardware to software-based encryption. By the 1990s, countries like Hong Kong and Japan were successful in their attempt to launch satellites to cater to the growing consumer demand. The US-based Primestar was a group of major cable companies that decided to embark on a satellite television business venture. Today, there are two leading satellite television providers, DISH network and Direct TV. The two companies’ growing competition has resulted to lower prices as well as great deals. Promotional offers have included free installation and free upgrade. Subscription fees are very affordable and several subscription packages have been designed to meet all kind of budget and preferences. The satellite television subscription comes complete with a satellite dish and satellite receiver. Features like parental lock, interactive mix channels and recording capabilities are just among the many great things about satellite television. With over 800 music and video channels that are displayed in clear images and surround soundHealth Fitness Articles, it is not surprising that there are over 30 million subscribers of satellite television.

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