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That year also saw the premiere of the first children's program to be distributed on the channel: Fraggle Rock (that series' creator, Jim Henson, had earlier produced the special Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, which won an ACE Award in 1978).

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To gauge whether consumers would be interested in subscribing to a pay television service, Time-Life sent out a direct-mail research brochure to residents in six U. Time-Life later conducted a test in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in which salesmen presented the concept of a pay cable channel to residents by offering free service for the first month and a refundable installation fee; half of residents surveyed in the test expressed interest in purchasing the conceptual service.ffice," although the name was originally intended as a working title in order to meet deadlines to publish research brochures for the new service, with the belief that management would come up with a different name later.

Originally, Home Box Office was to debut on a Service Electric cable television system in Allentown; in order to avoid blackouts for NBA games that it was set to televise (Allentown was within the NBA's designated blackout radius for the Philadelphia 76ers' market area, under rules that the league had in effect at the time to protect ticket sales), Time-Life agreed to an offer by Service Electric president John Walson to launch the channel on its system in Wilkes-Barre (outside of the 76ers' DMA, in northeastern Pennsylvania).

The network first adopted a 24-hour schedule on weekends in September 1981, running from p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday nights/early Monday mornings; this round-the-clock schedule was expanded to weekdays three months later on December 28, 1981 (however, HBO was not the first pay television network to maintain an uninterrupted programming schedule as Showtime and The Movie Channel had both switched to 24-hour daily schedules months earlier).

By this time, the full "Home Box Office" name was de-emphasized by the network, in favor of branding solely by the "HBO" initialism (although the full name is still used as the legal corporate name of its parent division under Time Warner, In 1983, HBO premiered its first original movie, The Terry Fox Story, a biopic about the Canadian runner who embarked on a cross-country run across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research; the film was also the first movie ever produced for pay television.

In 1974, they settled on using a geostationary communications satellite to transmit HBO to cable providers throughout the United States.

Other television broadcasters at the time were hesitant about uplinking their feeds to satellite due to fears that the satellites may inadvertently shut down or jettison out of their orbit, as well as due to the cost of purchasing downlink receiver dishes, which in 1974, were sold for as much as ,000.

In the summer of 1971, while on a family vacation in France, Charles Dolan began to think of ideas to make Sterling Manhattan profitable.

He came up with the concept for a cable-originated television service, called "The Green Channel." Dolan later presented his idea to Time-Life management; though satellite distribution seemed only a distant possibility at the time, he persuaded Time-Life to back him on the project. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed (approximately 99%) opposed the idea; 4% of those polled in a second survey, conducted by an independent consultant, said they were "almost certain" to subscribe to such a service.

However, HBO's launch came without fanfare in the press, as it was not covered by any local or national media outlets.

In addition, the city manager of Wilkes-Barre declined an offer to attend the launch ceremony, while Time Inc. Richard Munro was unable to attend as he was stranded in traffic while trying to exit Manhattan on the George Washington Bridge on his way to Wilkes-Barre.

By 1977, Ted Turner's Atlanta superstation WTCG-TV (soon to become WTBS) and Pat Robertson's CBN Satellite Service (later to become the present-day Freeform) had joined it, pioneering satellite delivery for the cable television industry.

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