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Technology of satellite television
Direct broadcast via satellite
Television receive-only
Early history of satellite television
Beginning of the satellite TV industry
TVRO/C-band satellite era
1990s to present of satellite television
History of Freesat
Video on demand
Reception equipment of satellite television
Technical details of satellite television



Beginning of the satellite TV industry


The satellite television industry developed first in the US from the cable television industry as communication satellites were being used to distribute television programming to remote cable television headends. Home Box Office (HBO), Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), and Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN, later The Family Channel) were among the first to use satellite television to deliver programming. Taylor Howard of San Andreas, California became the first person to receive C-band satellite signals with his home-built system in 1976.

In the US, PBS, a non-profit public broadcasting service, began to distribute its television programming by satellite in 1978.

In 1979, Soviet engineers developed the Moskva (or Moscow) system of broadcasting and delivering of TV signals via satellites. They launched the Gorizont communication satellites later that same year. These satellites used geostationary orbits. They were equipped with powerful on-board transponders, so the size of receiving parabolic antennas of downlink stations was reduced to 4 and 2.5 metres. On October 18, 1979, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began allowing people to have home satellite earth stations without a federal government license. The front cover of the 1979 Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalogue featured the first home satellite TV stations on sale for $36,500. The dishes were nearly 20 feet (6.1 m) in diameter and were remote controlled. The price went down by half soon after that, but there were only eight more channels. The Society for Private and Commercial Earth Stations (SPACE), an organisation which represented consumers and satellite TV system owners, was established in 1980.

Early satellite television systems were not very popular due to their expense and large dish size. The satellite television dishes of the systems in the late 1970s and early 1980s were 10 to 16 feet (3.0 to 4.9 m) in diameter, made of fibreglass or solid aluminum or steel, and in the United States cost more than $5,000, sometimes as much as $10,000. Programming sent from ground stations was relayed from eighteen satellites in geostationary orbit located 22,300 miles (35,900 km) above the Earth.