Cable Visions

Television Beyond Broadcasting

384 pages

19 illustrations

September, 2007

ISBN: 9780814799505



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Sarah Banet-Weiser is Associate Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, and author of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity and Kids Rule!: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship.

All books by Sarah Banet-Weiser

Cynthia Chris is Assistant Professor of Media Culture at the City University of New York's College of Staten Island, and author of Watching Wildlife.

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Anthony Freitas works as a media relations consultant for non-profit organizations in San Francisco.

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Cable television, on the brink of a boom in the 1970s, promised audiences a new media frontier-an expansive new variety of entertainment and information choices. Music video, 24–hour news, 24-hour weather, movie channels, children's channels, home shopping, and channels targeting groups based on demographic characteristics or interests were introduced.

Cable Visions looks beyond broadcasting’s mainstream, toward cable's alternatives, to critically consider the capacity of commercial media to serve the public interest. It offers an overview of the industry's history and regulatory trends, case studies of key cable newcomers aimed at niche markets (including Nickelodeon, BET, and HBO Latino), and analyses of programming forms introduced by cable TV (such as nature, cooking, sports, and history channels).


  • “This comprehensive survey is a must for anyone interested in the opportunities, limits, and future projections of the new-media environment.”


  • Through a series of highly original and carefully researched essays, Cable Visions offers a lively and comprehensive survey of the contemporary multichannel television landscape in the United States.”

    —William Boddy, author of New Media and Popular Imagination: Launching Radio, Television, and Digital Media in the United States

  • Cable Visions is a compelling exploration of contemporary U.S. television that grapples with the contradictory logic of consumerism and citizenship upon which cable TV is based. Thoroughly researched, accessible, and innovative in design, the essays trace cable from its early utopian beginnings as ‘alternative’ TV to its current-day realization as a multi–channel (but not necessarily diverse) commercial system aimed at niche tastes. A ‘must read’ for anyone interested in understanding the opportunities and limits of the new media environment.”

    —Lynn Spigel, author of Make Room for TV and TV by Design