Magazine article Marketing

Since the Advent of Satellite Television, Cable Is Starting to Look like a Viable Product

Magazine article Marketing

Since the Advent of Satellite Television, Cable Is Starting to Look like a Viable Product

Article excerpt

Since the advent of satellite television, cable is starting to look like a viable product

After many years as an economic disaster area, cable in the UK has recently begun to show faint symptoms of potential viability. One reason for this is that the technologists who saw cable as a test-bed for superbly complex systems that no-one particularly wanted, have been repulsed, with the result that the system can now be used simply as a carrier for electronic entertainment, which is what people may be persuaded to pay for. The main basis for such expectations is the growth of satellite. Now that the Astra and BSB satellites are already beaming an extra dozen or more channels, needing two dishes, to say nothing of decoders for subscription channels, the relative simplicity of a broadband cable system must appear rather attractive.

Looked at in this way, cable subscription performs exactly the same function as buying a dish, and technically this is true. But in the real political world there are differences, as yet barely noticeable, but possibly of considerable importance over the next few years.

These stem from the question of control. The IBA and the Cable Authority, which will shortly be merged into the ITC, have the legal power to control the output of UK television stations. As well as the terrestrial services, this includes BSB and the channels which are transmitted through any UK-based cable system. It does not, however, cover the Astra satellite, which legally is based in Luxembourg and works under the rather loose controls of that country. This means that the UK authorities have no direct say in what is beamed from the Astra satellite, but if those same programmes are transmitted through a cable system, the content of the broadcasting can be regulated.

This is not a theoretical point -- it has already happened. …

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