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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



1990s to present of satellite television


By 1987, nine channels were scrambled, but 99 others were available free-to-air. While HBO initially charged a monthly fee of $19.95, soon it became possible to unscramble all channels for $200 a year. Dish sales went down from 600,000 in 1985 to 350,000 in 1986, but pay television services were seeing dishes as something positive since some people would never have cable service, and the industry was starting to recover as a result. Scrambling also led to the development of pay-per-view events. On November 1, 1988, NBC began scrambling its C-band signal but left its Ku band signal unencrypted in order for affiliates to not lose viewers who could not see their advertising. Most of the two million satellite dish users in the United States still used C-band. ABC and CBS were considering scrambling, though CBS was reluctant due to the number of people unable to receive local network affiliates. The piracy on satellite television networks in the US led to the introduction of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992. This legislation enabled anyone caught engaging in signal theft to be fined up to $50,000 and to be sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison. A repeat offender can be fined up to $100,000 and be imprisoned for up to five years.

In the US in the early 1990s, four large cable companies launched PrimeStar, a direct broadcasting company using medium power satellites. The relatively strong transmissions allowed the use of smaller (90 cm) dishes. Its popularity declined with the 1994 launch of the Hughes DirecTV and Dish Network satellite television systems.

On March 4, 1996 EchoStar introduced Digital Sky Highway (Dish Network) using the EchoStar 1 satellite. EchoStar launched a second satellite in September 1996 to increase the number of channels available on Dish Network to 170. These systems provided better pictures and stereo sound on 150200 video and audio channels, and allowed small dishes to be used. This greatly reduced the popularity of TVRO systems. In the mid-1990s, channels began moving their broadcasts to digital television transmission using the DigiCipher conditional access system.

In a return to the older (but proven) technologies of satellite communication, the current DBS-based satellite providers in the USA (Dish Network and DirecTV) are now utilizing additional capacity on the Ku-band transponders of existing FSS-class satellites, in addition to the capacity on their own existing fleets of DBS satellites in orbit. This was done in order to provide more channel capacity for their systems, as required by the increasing number of High-Definition and simulcast local station channels. The reception of the channels carried on the Ku-band FSS satellite's respective transponders has been achieved by both DirecTV & Dish Network issuing to their subscribers dishes twice as big in diameter (36") than the previous 18" (& 20" for the Dish Network "Dish500") dishes the services used initially, equipped with 2 circular-polarized LNBFs (for reception of 2 native DBS satellites of the provider, 1 per LNBF), and 1 standard linear-polarized LNB for reception of channels from an FSS-type satellite. These newer DBS/FSS-hybrid dishes, marketed by DirecTV and Dish Network as the "SlimLine" and "SuperDish" models respectively, are now the current standard for both providers, with their original 18"/20" single or dual LNBF dishes either now obsolete, or only used for program packages, separate channels, or services only broadcast over the providers' DBS satellites.

On 29 November 1999 US President Bill Clinton signed the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA). The act allowed Americans to receive local broadcast signals via direct broadcast satellite systems for the first time.

Satellite Television for the Asian Region (STAR), a service based in Mumbai and Hong Kong which now provides satellite TV coverage to Asia and Australia, introduced satellite TV to the Asian region in the early 1990s. It began broadcasting signals using the AsiaSat 1 satellite on 1 January 1991.