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.
1992 - 2005
Cable operators generally resisted broadcaster demands for cash compensation on the grounds that the programming was available "off-air" for free.
2005 - 2010
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.