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Pay television in Toronto

Photo caption: Hair’s staging – with its brief but discreet nudity – was as important as its music. This show, more than any other at the time, reflected the upheaval and rebellious nature of the 1960s.

Source: National Archives

One of the first pay television stations was established in Etobicoke, Ontario, near Toronto. The system was called Telemeter.  The subscriber deposited coins - usually a dollar’s worth - in a box installed in his living room by the subscription company.  The desired program was then played on the subscriber’s television set.  Programming included movies that had been playing in downtown theaters just a few months before.

Money was collected every month or so by a Telemeter serviceman, who would come to the subscriber’s house and empty the coin box on top of the television.  Telemeter was a successful program for its time, with more than 5,000 subscribers, but it was ahead of its time and did not survive.  Telemeter’s employees, during its existence, were members of Local 173.

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