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Hit or Miss: Pay TV

"Piped radio" had been popular from the very early days of radio in the 1920's, so it was quite natural when the burgeoning TV market adopted "Piped TV" as well.  For those areas that were not well covered by the few, weak transmitting stations, receiving the signal via a cable (or re-diffusion) was a sensible option.  Only one step further then to the option of producing further material above and beyond the limited number of channels available - and what better way to fund this exercise than getting the consumer to pay for watching it - in bite sized-chunks?  This article form 21 October 1961 describes just such a suggestion.  Hit or Miss, you tell me?

Choiceview Pay-TV Demonstrated Company Seeks Field Test

The Choiceview Pay-TV system was demonstrated at the Gaumont Theatre, Camden Town, this week, by Choiceview Ltd., the company in which the Rank Organization Ltd. and Rediffusion Ltd. are equal partners.  On the previous week it had been demonstrated to the Committee on Broadcasting.
It was explained that Choiceview sought to provide some programmes themselves and to deliver them to distribution centres (either its own or run by independent operators); supply equipment would be available to such operators.  Pay-TV programmes can be transmitted by radio or relay network, and the company is of the opinion that the system should be introduced initially over wired networks, with which conventional TV receivers can also be used.

Payment can either be by coin box or credit meter with accounts sent to the customer periodically.  Payments might range from 6d to 1, and three programme periods would probably be offered daily - one in the afternoon and two in the evening.  Programmes would be announced in the Press and in a publication sent to subscribers.  An announcement channel on the system would give programme details during the day and would also give five- and two-minute warnings of the start of each programme.
Two distinct Pay-TV units have been developed - one for use in relay networks and the other for aerial receivers (which would not need to be modified in any way).  Each type would be provided with either coin box or credit meter as desired.  

Four Programmes Demonstrated

Choiceview Ltd. are now asking for permission for their system to be given a practical test.  At this week's demonstration four different types of programme were shown, signals being obtained from videotape and film.  The fee for a comedy film was announced as 5s, and for a boxing match 10s. "A Tale of Two Cities" was 7s 6d.
One of the useful features of the system was the ability of the Choiceview operators to see at the transmitting end by means of an instrument called an I.B.C.A. (Instantaneous Broadcast Audience Counting) how many subscribers are taking a given programme.  The Choiceview programmes would be made available to independent relay operators, and the I.B.C.A. system would still count the viewers even through a VHF relay system.

 

Choiceview coin unit for use with an aerial receiver.  Controls are the channel selection buttons, TV/Pay-TV change-over switch, announcements control, credit dial, coin register control and reject coin release button.

Left: A Choiceview coin box unit with an aerial type receiver.  The user can switch to Pay-TV A and B or to his "free" signal.  Right: a
credit meter with a Rediffusion-fed receiver.  Either type can be coin or credit operated.

 

Hit Maybe Miss