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  -- SBCA 2001: A Culmination of the Journey From One Man’s Vision to More Than 17 Million Satellite Television Customers --

ALEXANDRIA, VA, August 2, 2001 – This year marks the 25th anniversary of the satellite television industry, and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association’s  (SBCA) 2001 Convention and Exhibition celebrates the tremendous growth and vitality of the satellite industry, and salutes Taylor Howard, the founder of satellite television.  Since its inception, satellite television has grown to more than 17 million current customers and is the only viable competitor to cable in the delivery of multichannel video in America.

The birth of satellite television began in 1976, when Taylor Howard of San Andreas, California, became the first individual to receive C-band (large dish technology) satellite television signals from a home-built antenna and receiving system that he constructed on his property.   The years 1976 to 1980 were the beginnings of the modern-day satellite television industry, with the first signals being broadcast from HBO (Home Box Office), TBS (Turner Broadcasting System) and CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network, later The Family Channel).

On creating the earliest known home satellite television system, Taylor Howard said, “In June or July of 1976, one of the graduate students at Stanford said to me that he’d seen video on one of the satellites.  That hadn’t happened before.  So I came home and started building.”  On receiving his first signal over his homemade dish, Taylor added, “The message said, ‘Attention all Earth Stations.’ So I was an Earth Station.”

“It is incredible to think that one man’s vision would in such a short period of time become the way that one in seven U.S. households watches television,” said SBCA President Chuck Hewitt.  “When Taylor Howard first received HBO’s signal,  little did anyone know that the delivery of multichannel video to consumers and businesses was about to change forever.”

Since the early days of C-band, the total satellite television marketplace – both C-band and Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS – small dish technology) – has grown to more than 17  million television households, representing more than 40 million viewers.  This makes satellite television systems one of the hottest and fastest growing consumer electronics products of all time.  Currently, 7,300 new DBS customers are added each day, 70% of which are coming from areas where cable is available.  Since satellite began offering local broadcast channels via satellite in late 1999, consumer purchase rates for satellite-delivered local channels have been approximately 50%. 

Satellite television was responsible for bringing digital transmissions to the marketplace through the rollout of DBS’s 100% digital audio and video signal.  Since DBS’ inception in 1994, the industry has led the way in delivering interactive TV services nationwide, and has recently introduced two-way high-speed Internet access via satellite services that can be coupled with satellite television systems.  In addition, satellite was the first to market with personal video recorders built into their set-top boxes, and later this year, digital audio radio services (DARS), commonly referred to as satellite radio, will begin to offer a ubiquitous, 100% digital satellite radio service to consumers throughout America.

On the future of the satellite industry, Howard opined, “Receivers will become much more capable and the video quality will improve because of that.  It will just be a steady escalation of quality and quantity.”

The main providers of satellite television are DIRECTV, representing more than 10 million customers; EchoStar Communications Corp. which operates the DISH Network, with more than 6 million customers; and C-band which has more than 1 million customers.

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association of America (SBCA) is the national trade organization representing all segments of the satellite industry.  It is committed to expanding the utilization of satellite technology for the broadcast delivery of video, data, voice, interactive and broadband services.  The SBCA is composed of DBS, broadband, and other satellite service providers, programmers, equipment manufacturers, distributors, retailers, encryption vendors, and national and regional distribution companies.