BTSC Stereo (1987)

By William F. Arnold Warner Cable Communications, Inc.

The decision to begin transmission of stereo programming to subscribers involved a process that required several years. Construction of the Houston system began in 1980. In 1982 we began to review the options available for carriage of stereo programming, including the choice of not transmitting stereo in any form. One important factor was the impact that stereo would have in the areas of increased subscriber satisfaction and retention.

BTSC, introduced in 1984, was determined to be the most practical choice due to:

  1. the capability to deliver an acceptable stereo product, and
  2. maximum convenience for the subscriber.

Remaining to be answered was whether BTSC was viable in an environment that includes scrambled channels. If we were to begin transmitting stereo, we wanted to go beyond the usual practice of limiting stereo to music services, and include all premium channels; the premiums being scrambled using a gated sync suppression system. Evaluation began at the Houston system in April, 1986.

Our efforts culminated on December 10, 1986 with the commencement of BTSC transmissions on nine (9) satellite services, and retransmission of BTSC from the three ( 3) local TV stations carrying part-time stereo. Marketing surveys have since indicated that not only are present subscribers more satisfied with our service, but many people have become subscribers because of the availability of stereo.

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