The Social Effects of Cable Television

by Leland Johnson

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Explores the present level of technology of cable TV and discusses some reasons why it is not fulfilling its potential. Today's use of cable consists almost entirely of rebroadcasting local TV broadcast signals, plus carrying signals from several distant broadcasting stations, and, more recently, offering special pay TV channels for movies and sports. However, many new cable TV services have been discussed: locally originated news and public affairs aimed at small audiences not served by today's mass entertainment TV medium; direct polling of viewers for their instantaneous responses about important issues; instructional programs for external degree, vocational, and other course work; information storage and retrieval for institutions such as hospitals and government facilities; and commercially oriented applications such as utility meter reading and burglar alarm systems. However, in spite of this potential, to date the overall social impact of cable TV has been nil.

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