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BIZ Who Is - Bob Block Behind The Entertainment Scene

Bob Block the Godfather of PPVTV (Pay Per View Television) - RSB3 photo


Former SelecTV Director of Programming Bill Mechanic greenlighted the completion of the Titanic when his was in charge of 20th Century Fox Films


by James Loving and Business Wire - Wednesday February 28, 2007


Bob Block - Ted Turner - Bill Mechanic (The Titanic) - American Idol's Simon Fuller, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul prove What Goes Around Comes Around - Gemstar-TV Guide - PBS - AP (Associated Press) - Internet Phishing Group - Toshu Fukami - The Grammys (NARAS) - Premiere Radio Network - Showtime Network - BMI


Wednesday February 28, 2007

A Conversation With SelecTV's Bob Block A Pioneer In Pay Per View Television

1. What date did SelecTV open its doors?

"I began looking into Pay-TV in 1970 when the U.S. Supreme Court made Pay Television legal by denying an injunction against Pay TV. I decided to form a pay-TV network in 1972 when I formed several American Subscription Television (AST) companies in major markets.

"In 1973 I entered into an agreement with Sol Segal, President of Teleglobe Pay-TV Systems Inc., to use the Teleglobe scrambling system, which was at the time, the most secure scrambling system available. The same year I invented Store and Forward Pay-per-view. This feature made it possible for me to automate the pay-per-view billing process using our customerís telephone service to tell us which programs were watched.

"In 1974 I invented Parental Control to give parents the opportunity to control which programs their children watched. Both pay-per-view and parental control were incorporated into the SelecTV system.

"In 1974 I also made a deal with Channel 22 to buy time on the station for Pay-TV (called Subscription TV by the FCC) and bought a 6-year option to purchase the station. We exercised that option and acquired the station during the last year of the option.

"In the September of 1975 I moved from Milwaukee to LA to get the Pay-TV operation started. In 1976 I remember sitting on the balcony of our apartment on Bora Bora in Marina Del Rey when I thought of the name SelecTV and decided to use that as a brand name for our service.

We also used one of the alternative names, "The Choice Channel" as a slogan just in case we ran into a problem with the name SelecTV. We were concerned about Select-A-Vision, an RCA brand name. SelecTV opened an office at 9750 W. Pico in March of 1978, moved to 8383 Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills in May and went on the air July 28th 1978."

Q: Was SelecTV the first Pay Per View channel?

"There were pay-per-view experiments from 1952 to 1969 so we were not the first to show PPV. However, we were the first licensed full-time pay-per-view service in the world."

Block's company wasn't the only kid on the block in the Los Angeles Pay TV business. ON TV owned by Jerry Perenchio and Oak Communications were also vying for the LA market. The difference between the two companies was that ON TV had a flat rate and SelecTV a pay-per-view fee that had a ceiling. SelecTV charged $1 to $3 per movie viewed.

"ON TV got on the air about 6 months before SelecTV. They had one pay-per-view event before we got on the air. I think their only PPV events were boxing matches. On the other hand, everything on SelecTV was pay-per-view. We averaged $23.70 per month from our subscribers while ON TV charged $18 a month.

"We had an independent research group do a study to find out whether ON TVís flat monthly fee or our pay-per-view approach was better liked. The study results clearly found that, both ON TV and SelecTV subscribers preferred the pay-per-view approach. SelecTVís equipment was far more sophisticated than ON TV but in the beginning we had buzz and fuzz problems that were later cleared up. Because of the problems, we did not charge our customers for programming for the first 3 months we were on the air."

Q. What was the size of your startup staff?

"The startup staff began with Ken Penchos, George Stein, Roger Daugherty, Carol Block (my wife) and Belle Schlessinger (my mother-in-law) and me. We hired a few more people making a total of about 12."

Q. What was the LARGEST number of SelecTV employees and WHEN?

"At one point I think the company had about 400 employees in 1984 at which time the company had about 400,000 subscribers."

Q: What was your first PPV event?

"The first pay-per-view program we aired was the movie Oh God! The first pay-per-view sports event was a USC or UCLA football game (I donít remember which) against Hawaii. I think it was also the first pay-per-view football game ever telecast and the first satellite based pay-per-view event.

There were some other firsts associated with that telecast but I can't recall the details. We also offered all the major pay-per-view boxing championships.Ē

Q: Why did SelecTV close down?

ďSelecTV and all the other STV stations closed down as a result of a decision by the FCC not to require cable operators to carry STV scrambled signals. For the most part, cable customers could not receive our over the air signals because the UHF antenna was taken down by the cable companies. As cable grew, STV waned. STV still thrives in France where we were instrumental in forming Canal +, the most successful pay TV service in Europe.

SelecTV News Letter from 1979


Bill Mechanic is largely known for overseeing and releasing the blockbuster movie hit the "Titanic" (1997) when he was chairman and CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Filmed Entertainment from 1994 to 2000. He also oversaw production of "Braveheart" (1995), and "Boys Don't Cry" (1999) and Fight Club.

During his career he is credited as having overseen the development and release of the largest all-time grossing films in history. ButÖ DID YOU KNOW that Mechanicís first job in the business was as SelecTVís Director of Programming


Ted Turner

Simon Fuller

Paula Abdul - photo Alan Light

Ralph DiSibio - Paladin Group photo

Toshu Fukami - NR photo

Toshu Fukami the performing artist


DID YOU KNOW that CNN founder Ted Turner was the owner of two professional sports teams in the USA and managed one of them for one day. He also founded the Goodwill Games. Full story

The Business of AMERICAN IDOL

American Idol judge Simon Philip Cowell was born October 7, 1959. His annual salary: $43 million and Net worth: £60 million.

Cowell was sued by Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller in 2005 over The X Factor, saying it was too much a copy of Pop Idol, but after a while, they settled out of court. The case was adjourned on the first day, and settled with Cowell's Idol salary increased to $36 million a year from $8 million before while Simon Fuller would gain a minority stake in X Factor. Upon the settlement, Cowell signed a new five-season American Idol agreement with Fox.

In 2002, Paula Abdul appeared as one of three judges for the reality television music competition show American Idol when Abdul realized that Simon Cowell's over-the-top judging style was heartbreaking for many young contestants, Abdul was so horrified, she considered leaving the show. Although their differences often resulted in extremely heated on-air exchanges and confrontations, Cowell says he played a major role in convincing Abdul not to walk off.

Abdul helped launch the The X Factor's third season, appearing at the London auditions as a guest judge alongside Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne. That first episode of the hit UK talent show aired Aug. 19, 2006.

What are the X Factor's to this report?


Ralph DiSibio the former president of Westinghouse, Parsons and The Washington Group authored a book titled Reel Lessons in Leadership.

The reel he refers to is film. He relates to the lessons he learned from watching movies.

NOTE: Ralph DiSibio's book Reel Lessons in Leadership is available on


Japanese Philanthropist Toshu Fukami is the president and founder of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture. He has authored more than one dozen books on economic trends and matters related to culture religion, the arts and business.

Fukami has founded and operates thirteen businesses. They include World Mate (a welfare organization), B.C. Consulting (business advisory) and schools for business management. He also organizes golf tournaments for the blind.

The entrepreneur has been donating money to Cambodia since 1993. He has donated US $5 million to Sihanouk Hospital-Center of Hope in Phnom Penh. He donated a library to the University of Cambodia.

The multifaceted 55-year-old Fukami is also a composer, opera singer and enjoys painting.

Related story - GRAMMY Award WINNERS

About Mark Burnett Productions

One of the driving forces behind reality television, Mark Burnett has a long history of executive producing Emmy Award-winning television. Burnett's entrepreneurial spirit pioneered the success of the reality "unscripted" drama series, garnered skyrocketing ratings and introduced millions of Americans to an entirely new television genre.

Mark Burnett Productions revolutionized television, with hits such as Eco-Challenge, Survivor, and The Apprentice.

Related story

About DreamWorks Television

DreamWorks Television is a division of DreamWorks SKG which was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

DreamWorks Television is currently in production on season three of the hit NBC series "Las Vegas" as well as season three of the critically acclaimed FX drama "Rescue Me," and the upcoming ABC reality series "The Miracle Workers."

DreamWorks Television recently finished production on "Into The West" for TNT, which was the highest rated mini-series for the season with 81 million unique viewers.

Other DreamWorks Television projects include: "Spin City," "Band of Brothers," "Taken," "Father of the Pride," "Freaks and Geeks," "The Job," "Boomtown," and "Undeclared."

About the Associated Press

The Associated Press is the world's oldest and largest newsgathering organization, providing content to more than 15,000 news outlets with a daily reach of 1 billion people around the world. Its multimedia services are distributed by satellite and the Internet to more than 120 nations. For more information, visit www.ap.org.

About Premiere Radio Networks

Premiere Radio Networks Inc., a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, syndicates 70 radio programs and services to more than 5,000 radio affiliations and reaches over 190 million listeners weekly.

Premiere Radio is the number one radio network in the country and features the following personalities: Rush Limbaugh, Jim Rome, Casey Kasem, Ryan Seacrest, Glenn Beck, Bob (Kevoian) & Tom (Griswold), Delilah, Steve Harvey, Blair Garner, George Noory, Maria Bartiromo, Ty Pennington, Whoopi Goldberg, John Boy and Billy, Matt Drudge, Art Bell, Donald Trump, Big Tigger, and others.

About Showtime Networks Inc.

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL and FLIX, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME TOO, SHOWTIME SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME, SHOWTIME BEYOND, SHOWTIME NEXT, SHOWTIME WOMEN, SHOWTIME FAMILYZONE and TMC XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD, THE MOVIE CHANNEL HD, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND and THE MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND.

All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI is also an owner and manager of SUNDANCE CHANNEL, a venture of NBC Universal, Robert Redford and SNI.

SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV.

About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

LLC A recognized global industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC (TCFHE) is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming on VHS, DVD and Blu-rayDisc (BD) as well as acquisitions and original productions. The company also releases all products around the globe for MGM Home Entertainment.

Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets -- from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce -- throughout the world.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC is a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company.

NBC Universal

NBC Universal is a leader in providing entertainment programming to the domestic and international marketplaces. Its NBC Universal Television Distribution division is responsible for the global distribution of NBC Universal product to all forms of television throughout the world.

NBC Universal's world-class filmed entertainment library offers customers a compelling selection of titles, including such contemporary hit feature films as Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Fast and the Furious, The Mummy Returns, and Bruce Almighty, as well as classics including the Academy Award-winning All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Schindler's List (1993).

NBC Universal's library is also home to some of pop culture's most popular classic television programs, including Magnum, P.I., Miami Vice, The A-Team, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Murder, She Wrote and Columbo.

NBC Universal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.

Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric, with 20% owned by Vivendi Universal.

About Zoke Culture Group

Zoke Culture Group is a Guangdong-based culture and entertainment company that has a broad range of business including home entertainment audio and video production, distribution, copyright trade, audio and video retail, movie distribution, as well as talent agent, TV show production, e-commerce and electronic home appliances production.

Founded in 1998, Zoke has rapidly grown into the leading home entertainment distributor in China with 700 employees and over 100 distribution channels allocated in 23 cites around China.

In the music sector, it has established long term partnerships with well-known international companies such as TimeWarner Music and Universal Music.

Zoke is also the first Chinese audio and video production enterprise that owns a special team dedicated to anti-piracy and copyright protection activities.

About the Anti-Phishing Working Group

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) is an industry association focused on eliminating the identity theft and fraud that result from the growing problem of phishing, email spoofing and crimeware.

Membership is open to qualified financial institutions, online retailers, ISPs, the law enforcement community and solutions providers.

There are more than 1,500 companies and government agencies participating in the APWG and more than 2,500 members.

The APWG's web site (http://www.antiphishing.org) offers the public and industry information about phishing and email fraud, including identification and promotion of pragmatic technical solutions that provide immediate protection.


BMI is an American performing right organization that represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in all genres of music, with a repertoire of more than 6.5 million musical works from around the world.

(Business Wire)

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