Satellite television is an electronic device that is used to receive or transmit television broadcasts from a communications satellite that is orbiting in space. The satellite apparatus can range from a simple, inexpensive receive-only earth station (satellite dish) that can be purchased by the individual consumer, to elaborate two-way communications stations used for commercial purposes. Signals are captured and focused by an antenna into a feed horn and low-noise amplifier. The signals are relayed by cable to a down converter and then into a satellite receiver/monitor. Satellite TV is also called direct broadcast satellite (DBS) because it bypasses closed-circuit television systems to pick up signals. (Closed-circuit television is transmitted by wire to a limited number of receivers.) Nearly all channels that are picked up from satellites, however, require subscription fees and licenses. DBS is therefore known as narrow casting, which involves sending television broadcasts only to subscribers and not to the general public.
The first communications satellite, ECHO 1, was launched in 1960. Two years later, on July 10, 1962, the first commercial satellite, Telstar 1, was sent into orbit. Funded by American Telephone and Telegraph, Telstar was also the first true telecommunications satellite because it was able to relay not only data and voice but television as well. The first broadcast, which was relayed from the United States to England, showed an American flag flapping in the breeze.
Further Information: "Broadcasting—Radio and Television." MSN Encarta. [Online] Available http://www.encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?z=1&pg=2&ti=761566157&cid=129#p129, October 23, 2000; Gatland, Kenneth. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology. New York: Orion Books, 1989; Jones, Glenn. Jones Dictionary of Cable Television Terminology Including Related Computer and Satellite Definitions. Englewood, Colo.: Jones Interactive, 1994; Long, Mark. Digital Satellite TV Handbook. Boston: Newnes, 1999; Long, Mark. The World of Satellite Television. Summertown, Tenn.: Book Publishing Company, 1998; McNeil, Ian. An Encyclopedia of the History of Technology. London: Routledge, 1990; Parsons, Patrick. The Cable and Satellite Television Industries. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998.