Spectrum (TV channel)
|Owned by||United Cable|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Broadcast area||Nationwide (available in select areas)|
Spectrum was an American subscription television channel that was owned and operated by United Cable. Existing during the early 1980s, the service was available in the Chicago, Illinois & Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota metropolitan areas. It was a direct competitor to and operated in the same manner as ONTV.
Subscribers of Spectrum were required to purchase a descrambler box for their television set and pay a monthly fee to receive its programming. The service's signal was broadcast over UHF channel 66 (WFBN, now WGBO-DT) in Chicago and on Channel 23 (KTMA, now WUCW - CW23) in Minneapolis. Spectrum aired a combination of sporting events, hit movies along with adult films late after 11pm with music videos and movie previews frequently filling the gap between programming; all of its programming was broadcast without commercial interruption.
United Cable intended Spectrum as a way to penetrate the Chicago market as the city was not wired for cable television service until the mid-1980s.
Ultimately, Spectrum was unsuccessful. The channel encountered technical issues with their broadcast signal because WFBN's transmitter atop the John Hancock Center in the Chicago Loop was prone to multipath interference (ghosting) due to the large number of high rise buildings in the area. Multipath made viewing normal TV broadcasts unpleasant, and often made it impossible for the Spectrum set top boxes to convert the scrambled signal into a usable TV picture. By 1983, in the face of cable television entering the Chicago market and the economic recession, Spectrum announced its intent to go out of business the following year and sold its subscriber list to competitor ON-TV. By mid-1985, ON-TV also went out of business, and its broadcast UHF channel (WSNS-TV, channel 44) would eventually become an affiliate of Univision and later joined the Telemundo network.
- ONTV, an over-the-air subscription service that served Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, Salem/Portland and San Francisco.
- PRISM, an over-the-air and cable television subscription service that served Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, Delaware and the Delmarva Peninsula.
- SelecTV, an over-the-air subscription service that served Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Philadelphia and later the Wometco Home Theater territories after WHT ceased its own programming.
- SuperTV, an over-the-air subscription service that served Washington, D.C., the Capital and Central regions of Maryland and Northern Virginia.
- Wometco Home Theater – an over-the-air subscription service that served New York City, Northern and Central New Jersey, Long Island and Fairfield County, Connecticut.