Why is there no Channel 1 on broadcast television?
Actually, there used to be a Channel 1, but for technical reasons, it was terminated and never reused.
Early experimental television started in the late 1920s, broadcasting over a very short distance on a number of different frequencies. In 1937, the FCC (U.S. Federal Communications Commission) standardized TV frequencies by assigning 19 specific channels, 7 of which were to be used in the immediate future.
Channel 1 was first assigned in 1941, to a New York station named WNBT. (Later, in 1946, WNBT was reassigned to Channel 4. Eventually, WNBT was changed to WRCA, and then WNBC.)
Although there was some television over the next few years, large-scale development was delayed by World War II. In 1948, Channel 1 was officially taken out of use because the frequencies used for this channel were not suitable for TV transmission. There was too much static and the picture quality was not good. However, because so many TV stations were already established, the FCC did not renumber the channel assignments.
That is why, to this day, even though cable and satellite systems have more TV channels than there are spots on a freckled leopard, you still won't see an official Channel 1.
Return to the list of Ask Harley questions
© All contents Copyright 2018, Harley Hahn