Super TV was an early form of subscription television featuring recently-run movies unedited and commercial-free. After originally operating in the Washington, D.C. area beginning in November 1981 on UHF channel 50 WCQR (presently WDCW), Super TV expanded into the Baltimore area in July 1982 on channel 54 WNUV.

Subscribers received a 12 inch by 12 inch brown decoder box and a dedicated UHF antenna which was installed on the roof or on a balcony and aimed at the station's transmitter. When attached to a television, the box would filter in the Super TV movie channel. In the evening, after pushing the button to the "in" position, subscribers could view a host of movies that were scheduled to play at that time.

80's films like Diner, Halloween III, On Golden Pond, and Poltergeist were some of the films that could be viewed. Super TV also aired an after hours program titled "Night Life," where adults could watch soft-core pornographic shows and movies. Super TV subscribers also received a monthly or weekly movie guide, in catalog format, telling them when their favorite films would be playing.

The decoder used was the Zenith SSAVI (sync suppression and video inversion) decoder and had no external controls other than a small chrome colored button on its top to select normal television or Super TV. To defeat simple descrambling techniques, video inversion was done selectively, often when the video frame was light overall, thus causing the scrambled picture to remain darker than the elevated sync pulses. In certain cases, video was inverted on alternate frames. The audio transmitted on the standard audio channel was a "barker" announcement, informing would-be customers that Super TV was a scrambled service and required a subscription. The audio for the Super TV movies was encoded in a manner such that normal televisions would not decode it. The station could address each box individually to authorize decoding of programs, including one-time broadcasts or adult program options.

Ending around 1986, Super TV was popular until cable television, VCRs, and video rental stores made it obsolete. Today, very little Super TV memorabilia, such as T-shirts and movie guides, exists on the collector's market.

See also


Subscription Tv of Greater Washington v. Kaufmann, 606 F.Supp. 1540 (D.C., 1985)

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