Pay-TV – 1960s Style 

23 November 2006

Sky was by no means the first in the UK to offer Pay-TV, as this article from the former Vintage Broadcasting site describes.

In the 1960s, a company called Pay Television Limited started broadcasting via cable in London and after a period of time, extended its operation to Sheffield.

I personally remember, as a child, seeing the programme listing for Pay-TV in the London Evening News. I was quite fascinated by this, next to each programme was the price – a feature film 7/6d, documentary 3/6d and so on – and I vividly remember the Election Results programme in 1966 was offered at no charge

When Pay-TV was extended to Sheffield, the service was opened by The Right Hon. Ted Short, the Postmaster General.

Click on the screen shot below to view Ted Short’s introduction.

Pay-TV Sheffield: The studio set looks remarkably like the inside of the Tardis

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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5 responses to this article

jonathan poole 10 November 2014 at 8:59 pm

We had a machine under the tv coin slot. My dad would watch evening horse racing from kempton park, the films I remember were the sand pebbles, norman widom films, doctor who with peter cushion. Also if you turned the knob after puting your money in and wedged it with a window stop it would stop the timer on it. We were on british relay cable tv back then but I was a. Child and can’t remember much more

Gary 15 October 2017 at 10:09 am

I lived in Camberwell, SE London in the 60’s as a kid.
We had Pay TV installed. This was for viewing films and events not on terrestrial tv.
Films cost 6 bob to start. We used to be sent a monthly magazine with listings each month.
You had to put your money at the scheduled start time or you missed the start.
The highlight was exclusive viewing of Henry Cooper v Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight boxing title. We had everybody from the local pub to watch the bout, including the publican. I think this was 21 bob.
I don’t think it lasted more than a year or so.
Everybody fiddled the boxes in the end

Eligius 20 September 2020 at 8:49 am

I remember Pay TV (from British Relay) in my native Kennington, London in the 1960s very well indeed. I loved it as a kid (I was only about 9 or 10 years old at that time). I used to watch the great Hammer films, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee there.
Yes, there was a box placed under the TV set with a slot for coins. You inserted the coins and then turned a knob and could then view the film.
When the Mohammed Ali vs Henry Cooper fight was shown live, we had lots of people come to our basement flat to watch it. We charged a small amount – and I had to give each person a ticket to show they had paid! It was a wonderful time (so much humanity in those days – not like the anti-human, utterly ABnormal Covid world and lie!).

Alan David William Goldsmith 1 November 2022 at 5:31 pm

Hi! My name is Alan Goldsmith and I was Head of Planning for Pay-TV, based at its studios, 66 Dean Street, Soho, from before it went on air in January 1966 to the time it ceased in November 1969. At some time in the next 12 months I will be publishing a book about my time in the newspaper, radio and TV business and include a chapter or two about Pay-TV, its programmes, personalities and eventual demise at the hands of politicians. Yes, the films were six bob, we had exclusive rights to racing at Kempton Park and we did carry the Cooper – Ali world title fight as well as many other events including the 1966 Indianapolis 500, won by Graham Hill. We were the fourth channel – and we should have expanded countrywide.

Darren 2 April 2024 at 1:45 pm

The PayTV Sports coverage was produced by a company called Viewsport

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