The Rapid Growth of Cable TV in the 1980s

A new era of entertainment is about to begin…

Jamie Logie
17 min readApr 3, 2023
Photo by Frank Okay on Unsplash

Let’s set the stage by starting with the difference between network TV and Cable. That may seem arbitrary but those differences are very important for this story and we tend to intertwine the term cable with all TV.

Network TV is the traditional form of television broadcasting that uses over-the-air signals to transmit programming to homes with TV antennas. The long-running North American major broadcast networks include the American Broadcasting Company or ABC, The Columbia Broadcasting System or CBS, the National Broadcasting Company, or NBC.

Here in Canada, we have channels like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or CBC. These networks have specific channels and schedules for their programming, and they are available to all homes with a TV antenna. It’s easy to forget that network TV really is free.

Cable TV is a type of television broadcasting that uses a cable or satellite connection to transmit programming to homes with cable or satellite subscriptions.

Networks like NBC, ABC, and CBS all began as radio networks and radio was so popular and powerful so quickly that there was concern that they not be abused. And that includes advertising. Advertising over the airwaves was new and The…



Jamie Logie

Some health, a little marketing, and a lot of 1980s content