PRISM (TV network)
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
|Closed||October 1, 1997|
|Owned by||Spectacor (1976-1983)
Rainbow Media (1983-1997)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Broadcast area||Philadelphia metropolitan area|
|Replaced by||Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia|
|Sister channel(s)||SportsChannel Philadelphia|
PRISM (Philadelphia Regional In-Home Sports and Movies) was an American regional premium cable television channel intended for cable customers in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania metropolitan area. Launched in September 1976, PRISM primarily broadcast through area cable systems, although it was also available through a scrambled signal on WWSG-TV (channel 57) from 1983 to 1985.
PRISM was launched in September 1976 by Spectacor, the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers. Its administrative offices were in the Philadelphia suburb of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, while its studios, production and master control facilities were all situated at the event level of The Spectrum at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue in South Philadelphia.
What differentiated PRISM from other subscription television services – some of which included ONTV, SelecTV and Z Channel – is that it broadcast exclusive and extensive sports coverage, which included Flyers, Philadelphia Phillies and Philadelphia 76ers games, Big 5 college basketball and live World Wrestling Federation events held at The Spectrum (the venue itself lending to the channel's tongue-in-cheek naming as viewing a "prism" allowed one to see "the spectrum"). Its sports coverage extended to sports-based original programming, such as Broad & Pattison (named after the South Philadelphia intersection of the city's sports complex) and The Great Sports Debate. PRISM also broadcast a selection of other programming outside of sports, the most prominent being theatrically released feature films, along with specialized programs such as Live At Rafters and the children's program block PRISM Kids.
In 1981, Spectacor launched PRISM New England (now Comcast SportsNet New England), which carried games from the Hartford Whalers, Boston Celtics, Boston Breakers and various New England college sports teams.
Rainbow Media ownership 
In 1983, PRISM and PRISM New England were sold to Rainbow Media; only the flagship Philadelphia service retained the PRISM name and format, with PRISM New England becoming an all-sports service as SportsChannel New England, an affiliate of the Rainbow-owned regional sports network SportsChannel. That year, PRISM began to be available over-the-air through a scrambled signal on WWSG-TV (channel 57; now CW owned-and-operated station WPSG). This only lasted for two years, ending when WWSG was sold to the Grant Broadcasting System in 1985 and was converted into a general entertainment independent station under the WGBS-TV callsign.
In 1990, Rainbow Media launched a companion basic cable channel to PRISM: SportsChannel Philadelphia, which also served as an affiliate of the company's SportsChannel network. Both channels maintained separate graphics, music packages and announcing teams until 1995, when all sports presentations on PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia adopted a uniform on-air appearance and began using the same announcers.
PRISM changes its colors and then meets its end 
The original three-stripe logo PRISM had used since the channel's 1976 launch was retired in the summer of 1993, in favor of a modernized logo and on-air identity that came with a rebrand that attempted to add more focus to PRISM's programming outside of its sports coverage, particularly its feature film content (the new look utilized the Univers typeface for its entire revamped on-air appearance, that was used for everything from the logo to text during sports coverage).
Rainbow Media launched websites for all of its television channels, including PRISM, in 1996. That same year, Comcast acquired a majority stake in PRISM's former owner Spectacor to form Comcast Spectacor, which immediately purchased the 76ers. It then announced plans to create a new all-sports network centered around those teams, effectively driving a stake through the heart of PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia.
After a year of uncertainty (which included plans for PRISM and SportsChannel to affiliate with Fox Sports Net), Comcast reached agreements with Liberty Media and Rainbow Media that resulted in a major change to Philadelphia's cable television landscape. Rainbow officially shut down PRISM and SportsChannel on October 1, 1997, but both channels were given designated successors: PRISM would be replaced with Liberty's premium movie channel Starz! (which at the time, was starting to expand its carriage outside of systems operated by its then co-owner Tele-Communications, Inc.). The new Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia also replaced SportsChannel Philadelphia on local cable systems within the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
PRISM's legacy is noteworthy because Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia continues to distribute its signal to cable television providers through PRISM's terrestrial infrastructure using only microwave and fiber optic relays, and is not uplinked to satellite. A controversial guideline imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (known as the "terrestrial exception"), that was implemented to encourage investments in local programming, states that a television channel does not have to make its programming available to satellite providers if it does not use satellites for their transmission.
This guideline has allowed Comcast to block DirecTV and Dish Network from carrying Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, but it has offered the sports network to Verizon's FiOS service. Consequently, market penetration by direct broadcast satellite providers in the Philadelphia area is much lower than in other cities within the United States.
See also 
- ONTV – An over-the-air subscription service that served Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, Salem/Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Preview - An over-the-air subscription service that served the Boston, Cleveland, Dallas–Fort Worth and St. Louis markets.
- SelecTV – An over-the-air subscription service that served Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Philadelphia and later the Wometco Home Theater territories after WHT ceased its own programming.
- Spectrum – An over-the-air subscription service that served Chicago and was a direct competitor to ONTV.
- SuperTV – An over-the-air subscription service that served Washington, D.C., the Capital and Central regions of Maryland and Northern Virginia.
- Wometco Home Theater – An over-the-air subscription service that served New York City, Northern New Jersey, Long Island and Fairfield County, Connecticut.
- "Rainbow Programming heats up the waters for Internet surfers". BNET. 1996-02-22.
- Comcast Commits to Launch STARZ! in Philadelphia; More Than 300,000 Comcast Customers Will See STARZ! by October 1, The Free Library. July 21, 1997.
- "Local Tv Sports Fans To See A Change, In Cost Sportschannel And Prism Are Going, Going. . . . A New Basic Cable Channel Takes Over.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
- ""Verizon Signs Agreements with Comcast for Comcast SportsNet-Philadelphia, PBS KIDS Sprout and Versus"".