Television: Payday, Some Day

When Samuel Goldwyn first pondered the possibilities of pay television, he saw it as the embodiment of progress —"and nobody yet," he exclaimed, "has shown the way to stop progress." Goldwyn was clearly uninformed about the procrastinating ways and restricted means of the Federal Communications Commission. In fact, the FCC dallied until this month, some 17 years later, before authorizing the U.S.'s first nationwide and permanent pay-TV service. And by now, with the networks having cornered most of the programming properties, the success of "fee-vee" is hardly assured.

As conceived by its originators in the early 1950s, pay TV was to...

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