Cable television

A system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic cables.

Cable television (CATV) is a television programming delivery system geared towards consumers. The system transmits radio frequency signals through coaxial -- or in recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic -- cables, hence its name.

CATV contrasts with broadcast television, a system in which the television signal is transmitted:

  • over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television;
  • or satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted by a communications satellite orbiting the Earth and received by a satellite dish on the roof.
  • FM radio programming,
  • high-speed Internet,
  • telephone services,
  • and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables.

Analog television was standard in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have been upgraded to digital.

A cable channel (sometimes known as a cable network) is a television network available via cable television. When available through satellite television, it is referred to as a satellite channel. Alternative terms include non-broadcast channel or programming service, the latter being mainly used in legal contexts. Examples of cable/satellite channels/cable networks available in many countries are

The abbreviation CATV, often used for cable television, originally stood for Community Access Television or Community Antenna Television, from cable television's origins in 1948.

In areas where over-the-air TV reception was limited by distance from transmitters or mountainous terrain, large "community antennas" were constructed, and cable was run from them to individual homes. The origins of cable broadcasting for radio are even older as radio programming was distributed by cable in some European cities as far back as 1924.

Cable television
  • CATV
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