Tuesday, November 3, 1964: Pay television

Californians have voted to outlaw pay television and, in the process, dealt a crippling blow to the ambitious firm that hoped to pioneer the medium across the nation.
     Sylvester L. (Pat) Weaver, president of Subscription Television, Inc., now operating in Los Angeles and San Francisco, declined comment until more votes are counted.
     But a spokesman for the firm said the defeat, by a better than 2 to 1 margin, will be appealed in the courts.
     "You can't vote down free enterprise," said the spokesman. "It's patently unconstitutional, clearly a violation of the First Amendment."
     Proposition 15, an initiative backed by a $1.5 million kitty from theater owners, declared pay TV "contrary to public policy."
     A leader of the fight against pay TV was Eugene V. Klein, president of National General Corporation, which operates 217 theaters, mostly in California.
     "It's obvious that the people of California are for free TV to pay TV.  Californians find it obnoxious to pay $1.50 to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants while the rest of the country gets their baseball on free TV," said Klein.
     The subscription system transmits its program by coaxial cable to a little box which attaches to the customer's regular TV set. There are three channels. Picture, quality and sound are of high caliber.
     The box permits reception of sound and picture and sends back impulses so the firm can know by electronic bookkeeping how much to bill subscribers.
     -- Associated Press, November 4
     -- Image from campaign against pay TV  (videos: @ and @)

* California ballot proposition, 1964 (University of California Hastings Law Library): @
* "The Box: Will it revolutionize TV, reshape the movies, retune the American mind?" (Life magazine, July 17, 1964): @
* "Pay TV: The Day The Money Stopped" (New York Times, November 15): @
* "Stupid Question, Stupid Answer" (Life, November 20): @
* "California High Court Voids Ban on Pay TV" (United Press International, March 3, 1966): @
* "Court Hits California Pay-TV Ban" (Associated Press, October 10, 1966): @
* "Pay Television" (Museum of Broadcast Communications): @
* "Hollywood in the Age of Television" (edited by Tino Balio, 1990): @ 
* "The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Evolution or Revolution" (Megan Mullen, 2003): @

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