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:
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.