Z Channel

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Z Channel
Country United States
Availability United States
Headquarters Los Angeles, California
Key people
Jerry Harvey
Launch date
1974
Dissolved 1989
Replaced by SportsChannel Los Angeles

The Z Channel was one of the first pay cable stations in the United States. Launched in 1974 from Los Angeles, California, this station was known for its devotion to the art of cinema due to the eclectic choice of films1 by the programming chief, Jerry Harvey. It also popularized the use of letterboxing on television, as well as showing 'director's cut' versions of films (which is a term popularized after Z Channel's showing of Heaven's Gate). Z Channel's devotion to cinema and choice of rare and important films had an important influence on such directors as Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch. Z Channel was owned by Theta Cable (a division of TelePrompTer Corporation) which was acquired by Group W (Westinghouse) in 1981. Operations were located in Santa Monica, California. In 1989, Z Channel faded to black2 and was replaced by SportsChannel Los Angeles.3

The channel was the subject of the 2004 documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, which was directed by Alexandra Cassavetes, daughter of John Cassavetes.

Live wrestling events

In the late 1980s, Z Channel broadcast a number of the World Wrestling Federation's live events from the Los Angeles Sports Arena, but nowhere near as many as Madison Square Garden (MSG Network), Boston Garden (New England Sports Network) or the Philadelphia Spectrum (PRISM).

Connections with other subscription services and channels

Although it is widely believed that, in the late 1970s, Z Channel created two subscription services (SelecTV & ONTV) and a sports channel (Prime Ticket), in reality SelecTV and ON TV were separate entities, using the facilities of local television stations KWHY channel 22 and KBSC channel 52 to broadcast scrambled programming to households without cable. Prime Ticket was actually a later name for the Z Channel's successor, SportsChannel Los Angeles, which was a result of later owners gradually replacing the movie programming with local sports.

Prime Ticket

Prime Ticket eventually was sold to the Fox Television Stations Group, parent company of KTTV, which had lost Los Angeles Dodgers rights after the 1992 baseball season. An affiliate of the Prime Sports network, Prime Ticket became "Fox Sports West" when Prime Sports became Fox Sports Net in 1997. The Prime Ticket name was revived on April 3, 2006, when the network's additional outlet, then known as FSN West 2, changed its name to FSN Prime Ticket, and in a 2008 re-branding, back to simply PrimeTicket.

References

  1. ^ "Film-News and Notes." Daily News of Los Angeles October 3, 1986
  2. ^ "Z Channel Fading To Black Amid Film Industry Tributes." The Hollywood Reporter April 27, 1989
  3. ^ "Hollywood Freeway." Daily News of Los Angeles June 26, 1989

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