The History of Z

With reference to the June 25 article "The Death of Z Channel--What Now?," I was sorry to read no mention of the birth of the Z Channel. Perhaps some readers might be interested in how it all came about.

The Z Channel was the brainchild of myself, the first (1974-76) programmer; General John Atwood, president of Theta Cable, and George Storer Jr., a Theta Cable executive. Incidentally, the name, Z Channel, was thought up by Hal Kaufman, who headed the advertising agency Theta used, and who replaced me as programming head when I went to 20th Century Fox. Kaufman hired Jerry Harvey as his assistant, and when he became ill, Harvey took over.

In 1974, Theta Cable was jointly owned by Hughes Aircraft and TelePrompTer Corp. with the former responsible for its management. TelePrompTer was opposed to a pay TV service, but Theta's management pushed the project through.

The first two movies I programmed on Z Channel were "Save the Tiger" and "Play It Again, Sam," each scheduled to show daily for a week. A new double bill was started each Friday thereafter. Z Channel was one of the first "stand-alone" pay TV services and helped blaze a trail for those that followed.


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