SelecTV (US TV channel)

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SelecTV
SelecTV USA
Launched 1976
Closed 1991
Owned by Starion Entertainment
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Country United States
Language English
Broadcast area Nationwide (available in select areas)

SelecTV was an American subscription television service that was formed in 1976, and first began broadcasting in 1978;[1] the service focused entirely on televising movies, and was shut down in 1991. The service originally allowed subscribers to pay only for programs "selected" during the month, with the first several minutes free (the decoder box included a phone hook-up to transmit information back to the billing office); it later switched to a flat fee.

Overview[edit]

SelecTV was transmitted via scrambled signal from a local UHF television station. A decoder box was required to unscramble the signal in order to view its programming. SelecTV was available in at least three markets: in Milwaukee on WCGV (channel 24, now a MyNetworkTV affiliate), in Los Angeles on KWHY-TV (channel 22, now a MundoFox affiliate), and in Philadelphia on WWSG (channel 57, now CW owned-and-operated station WPSG). On WWSG, the service utilized the gated-pulse scrambling technique for the video – using technology that would later be used to enable multichannel television sound, moving the audio to a different subcarrier, freeing the standard audio channel for use as a barker channel (which was used for sales promotions). In 1984, New Jersey-based Wometco Home Theater began offering SelecTV on its affiliated television stations after the network ceased programming; however, the affiliation with SelecTV would not last long, as within a year, WHT ceased operations. This occurred following a massive financial collapse, its own as a result of a majority of their subscribers defecting to cable television services which offered more channels, including pay-TV services like HBO and Showtime.

In 1983, the service went national via satellite and was later purchased by Starion Entertainment, which eventually dropped the SelecTV branding in the late 1980s and renamed it Starion Premiere Cinema. The service ceased operations in 1991.

Unlike rival service ONTV, SelecTV specialized in airing movies and did not air sports events. Foreign films were often shown in dubbed and subtitled versions, which were indicated in the channel's monthly programming guide. In the early 1980s, Los Angeles affiliate KWHY simulcast some programs from Z Channel. During Oscar season in the Los Angeles market, regular programming would often be preempted for special "Academy Consideration" screenings of films in contention for Oscar nominations. By 1985 (if not earlier), SelecTV aired softcore versions of pornographic films on its "Adult Theater" programming block.

Another thing that made the channel unique was its policy of incorporating R-rated movies throughout the broadcast day, at a time when other pay services restricted R-rated content until after 8 p.m. SelecTV also transmitted its C-band satellite feed "in the clear" (unscrambled) for a longer time than rivals HBO and Showtime.

By 1984, OnTV and SelecTV merged, and some sports events were broadcast on the combined service. Most of those events were simulcast from the then-recently launched regional sports network Prime Ticket.

In 1986, SelecTV produced one original, non-sports series: the half-hour comedy Channel K.[2] The title of the series was chosen to mock one of SelecTV’s early competitors, Z Channel. Each half-hour episode was composed of shorter segments, averaging five minutes, spoofing television programming. There were two comedy spin-offs from Channel K, both also airing in 1986, presented in ten-minute segments in order to be used to fill time as needed between movies. The first was Bachelor Pad, where a self-proclaimed ladies' man gave not-so-helpful tips to single men looking to be more successful at dating women. The second, Handy Dan, gave do-it-yourself lessons that always led to disaster. In 1987, Channel K returned to the network briefly with the new title, Son of Channel K. Three VHS volumes, including episodes of both Channel K and Son of Channel K, and segments of Bachelor Pad and Handy Dan, were released on home video in 1989 and 1990, as the SelecTV network, eroded away by the advancement of cable television, went dark.[3]

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