Cable television first became available in the US in 1948, with subscription services to relay over-the-air commercial broadcasting television channels.
1948 - 1972
Cable television extends the geographic reach of over-the-air television stations and provides for consistently good quality reception not available with a rooftop antenna or rabbit ears.
The FCC implements the "Must-Carry Rule". The Must-Carry rule mandates that cable companies carry the signals of all local broadcasters within a 60-mile area.
The FCC passes the Retransmission Act of 1992, gave stations a choice of requiring cable companies to carry them under the Must-Carry rule or negotiating with cable companies for compensation if they want to carry their broadcast signals.
Cable operators generally resisted broadcaster demands for cash compensation on the grounds that the programming was available "off-air" for free.
Broadcasters increase demands for cash compensation for programming carriage. Cable companies and other operators begin to agree to cash payments. Occasionally, broadcasters remove a channel from cable operators when fees are in dispute.
2011 - present
Broadcasters ask for gigantic fee increases from distributors -- as much as 300%! Broadcasters and operators engage in several public disputes resulting in customer blackouts.