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What Is Cablecasting?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 July 2014
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The word cablecasting was created in 1973 by joining the word cable, referring to coaxial cable used for transmission, and a shortened form of the word broadcasting. It refers to a transmission of cable television. Cablecasting involves television reception that is picked up by a master antenna from stations near or far and then transmitted only to paying subscribers, via a cable.

Cablecasting is distinguished from broadcasting and webcasting. Broadcasting is wireless transmission and may involve satellites. Webcasting is transmission over a computer network. Cablecasting, by contrast, is transmission by wire—the cable. Whereas access to broadcast television is determined by being able to pick up the signal with your antenna, access to cable television is contingent upon subscribing through a cable company and paying the monthly fee. Cablecasting can also be linked to Internet cable service offered by a company functioning as an ISP or Internet Service Provider, with one cable doing double duty. In this case, you are likely to have a Digital Cable box for the television and a modem for the high speed Internet transmission.

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Cablecasting is the means used by digital cable companies like Comcast to provide live programming for their customers. Such services usually have several levels, including a basic option with fewer channels and fuller options with more channels. The so-called premium channels—such as HBO, Starz, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, and Showtime—are also available for an additional charge. It is also typical to find specialty packages for sports, often featuring a combination of basketball, baseball, soccer, and hockey programming, and entertainment. Other extra features typically include a DVR and “on-demand” programming, with some kind of fee involved.

Colleges and universities also use cablecasting, not as an entertainment avenue, but as a learning tool. At Rutgers University, for example, RU-TV is available for faculty to cablecast rights-cleared material for student viewing. This includes materials from the Rutgers Libraries’ media collections and rights for other material that instructors request and the libraries are able to secure cablecast rights for. Some materials for which cablecast rights cannot be secured may be shown in face-to-face classroom settings.

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