Cable television started the multichannel revolution that, with the introduction of CNN in 1980, transformed television news from a nightly half hour to the perpetually present and highly competitive realm of cable news. However, that was a much later culmination of a history of policy and technological changes. Cable television first arose in the United States in the decade after World War II, as the major broadcast networks and much of the country turned to television. Difficulties (chiefly interstation interference and an underestimation of the demand for licenses) with the initial channel allocation scheme of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) led to a “freeze” from 1948 to 1952, during which no new television licenses were awarded. Coverage by those stations on the air was ...

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