|Video Entertainment Unlimited|
|Launched||November 3, 1980|
|Closed||September 30, 1984|
|Owned by||Golden West Broadcasters|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Slogan||America's Premiere Home Entertainment Network|
(available in select areas)
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California|
Video Entertainment Unlimited (VEU) (also referred to as VEU Subscription TV) is a defunct American subscription television service that was owned by Golden West Broadcasters. Operating over the signals of fledgling independent stations in select markets throughout the United States, VEU was similar in model and format to other subscription services that were available to prospective subscribers by way of an encrypted UHF broadcast signal as either a standalone service to those that did not have access to cable television-originated premium services, or as an additional viewing alternative thereto. VEU aired a broad mix of feature films including mainstream Hollywood blockbusters as well as sports events and specials.
VEU, like its competitors (ONTV, SelecTV, SuperTV and Spectrum) served as the only means available to watch recent theatrical feature films, sporting events and music specials presented unedited and without commercial interruption. The service originated in the Oklahoma City market on November 3, 1981 over the signal of KAUT (channel 43), an upstart independent station which was founded by Golden West and initially maintained a daytime-only news format during time periods not allocated to VEU programming.
VEU was transmitted in the form of a scrambled signal over a local UHF television station, requiring a Zenith-manufactured decoder box (which cost $49.95 and $34.99, respectively, for installation and deposit fees, in addition to a monthly subscription fee between $19.95 and $22.50 depending on the market) to unencrypt the signal in order for VEU's programming to be receiveable to subscribers. To prevent those who did not have a subscription from pirating the VEU signal, the decoders were designed to be controlled from the studio facility of the participating station, allowing illegally unscrambled decoders to be remotely encrypted. In addition to Oklahoma City, VUE was available in at least two other markets: KNBN-TV (channel 33, now CW affiliate KDAF) in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex), which began carrying the service on It went on November 1, 1980, and WVEU (channel 69, now CW owned-and-operated station WUPA in Atlanta, which began carrying the service when that station debuted on August 22, 1981.
By 1983, cable television had begun a rapid expansion into areas not previously wired for service. (VEU's pilot market of Oklahoma City was among the first VEU markets to see this occur, with Cox Cable wiring various sections of Oklahoma City proper with pay television service between 1980 and 1981, and TVQ Movie Systems Inc. – a Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service that transmitted various cable channels via an over-the-air signal from atop the Liberty Bank Tower in the city's downtown district – inaugurating service in April 1980, which led to KAUT becoming the first VEU affiliate to drop the service's programming on October 27, 1982.) Home videocassettes and discs obtained near-ubiquity within the home entertainment market by that time as well, with rentals significantly increasing in popularity throughout the early 1980s. This resulted in an increased number of home entertainment choices available, and by 1984, fewer people cared to pay $22.50 per month to subscribe to a single-channel broadcast service that ran six hours a night. Moreover, established cable-originated pay television services such as HBO and Showtime were now heavily acquiring packages of films from the major studios through exclusive licensing agreements, making them off-limits to services like VEU. The service ceased operations on September 30, 1984, when WVEU dropped the service in favor of adopting a general entertainment format with a music video focus.
Unlike other over-the-air subscription television services, VEU maintained a part-time schedule throughout its entire existence; it broadcast Monday through Fridays from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. The service's schedule of feature films was structured so that no affiliate could "run a movie to death," limiting repeat airings of any individual title to only four or five times in a given month. For an additional monthly fee, VEU also offered Night VEU, an adult-oriented late night programming block that aired Friday through Sunday nights from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. local time, featuring softcore versions of pornographic films. Customers that did not pay to receive the optional block saw the corresponding VUE affiliate's signal re-encrypted shortly after the Night VEU title sequence concluded. (A special lockout device to restrict the ability for children to view R-rated and pornographic movies could be purchased for a one-time-only charge of $15.)
The service also carried sporting events – which included games involving professional sports teams and select championship boxing matches – as well as entertainment specials (including concerts and stand-up comedy specials) and children's programs. During breaks between presentations, in addition to promos (which, for film promotions, consisted of the original theatrical trailers), the service also carried short films and music videos to pad time before the start of the next program. VEU subscribers also received a monthly or weekly catalog-size program guide, featuring a schedule of films that were scheduled to air on the service.
|City of license/market||Station||Years of
|Atlanta, Georgia||WVEU 69||1981–1984||Now WUPA, operating as a CW owned-and-operated station and owned by CBS Television Stations|
|Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas||KNBN-TV 33||1980–1983||Now KDAF-TV, operating as a CW affiliate and owned by Tribune Broadcasting|
|KTWS-TV 27||1983–1984||Now KDFI, operating as a MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station and owned by Fox Television Stations|
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||KAUT 43||1980–1982||Now operating as an independent station and owned by Tribune Broadcasting|
The first VEU service launched in Oklahoma City on September 24, 1980, transmitting over the signal of KAUT (channel 43), which was the only VEU affiliated owned by network parent Golden West Broadcasters. Initially, KAUT – then operating as an independent station – offered only VEU programming each weekday from 7:00 p.m. until its 2:00 a.m. sign-off and weekends from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.; this was supplemented beginning five weeks later on November 3, by an all-local news programming format each weekday from the station's sign-on at 12:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., and a format of low-cost syndicated and barter programs (consisting of cartoons, sitcoms and drama series, westerns and classic movies) from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. that lasted until the news format was discontinued in September 1981, when it filled those time slots with additional entertainment programs. (After KAUT shifted its news block by two hours in March 1981, the station consequently held over the transition to VEU programming until 7:00 p.m.)
The service launched as multichannel television service arrived in the Oklahoma City area, with the launches of several cable providers. Cox Cable and Pan Oklahoma Communications were in the process of wiring the Oklahoma City core and the bordering unincorporated suburb of Forest Park (with Pan Oklahoma providing service to areas of northeastern Oklahoma City to the east of Western Avenue, and Cox – which held a majority stake in Pan Oklahoma – operating west of Western Avenue). Multimedia Cablevision also began providing service to select suburbs and adjacent areas of Oklahoma City in 1972 (eventually including among others, Bethany, Edmond, Guthrie, Del City, Choctaw, Harrah, Moore, Nichols Hills, Norman and Yukon) and was also in the process of expanding its lineup of cable-originated channel offerings as were American Cablevision in Midwest City (later absorbed into Multimedia's Oklahoma operations) and the Oklahoma City-based MMDS service TVQ/Movie Systems, Inc.
In addition to feature films and entertainment specials, KAUT's VEU service also carried college football games featuring participant schools in the Big Eight Conference (particularly games involving the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys) as well as Dallas Mavericks game telecasts during the NBA season. The KAUT service utilized local radio station KKLR (97.9 FM, now WWLS-FM on 98.1) to simulcast the multichannel audio feed as an FM radio signal to transmit music specials in stereo. Cox/Pan Oklahoma and Multimedia's cable operations – which offered 25-channel services providing a variety of programming from various local and cable-originated channels, including premium channels such as HBO, Showtime and, in Cox's Oklahoma City service area, Spotlight – grounded interest in VEU to a halt. Oklahoma City became the first market where VEU discontinued service on October 17, 1982, when channel 43 replaced VEU programming with classic television series and select first-run programs from 7:00 p.m. until its new 11:00 p.m. sign-off on weekdays and on weekend afternoons and evenings.
VEU began airing on independent station KNBN-TV (channel 33, now CW affiliate KDAF-TV) upon that station's sign-on on September 29, 1980; in an irony, Nolanda Hill and Sheldon Turner (owners of KNBN founding parent Hill Broadcasting) successfully lobbied the Dallas City Council to charter a cable television franchise in the city. Channel 33 – which initially offered business news programming until 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and a limited amount of entertainment programs from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on weekends – offered VEU programming each weekday from 7:00 p.m. until its 2:00 a.m. sign-off and weekends from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. In addition to feature films and entertainment specials, KNBN's VEU service also carried college football games featuring participant schools in the Big Eight and Southwest Conferences as well as Dallas Mavericks game telecasts during the NBA season.
In September 1983, VEU moved its programming to KTWS-TV (channel 27, now a MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station), after KNBN-TV – by then, a part-time affiliate of the Spanish International Network (the forerunner to the present-day Univision) – chose to become a part-time affiliate of rival subscription service Preview, which had been carried on KTWS since that station debuted on January 26, 1981. VEU discontinued its Dallas–Fort Worth area operations on September 30, 1984, as a result of its popularity declining significantly because of cable television becoming more widely available in the area (with Warner Cable serving most of the Dallas area).
In Atlanta, VEU launched its third regional service on WVEU (channel 69, now CW owned-and-operated station WUPA), an upstart UHF television station founded by locally based BCG Communications that signed on August 22, 1981, and was assigned the call letters in reference to its affiliation with the subscription service. In that market, VEU held telecast rights to college basketball and football games from the Atlantic Coast, Sun Belt and Southeastern Conferences. By 1982, WVEU had offered VEU programming daily from 1:00 p.m. until its 2:00 a.m. sign-off. WVEU dropped VEU programming on September 30, 1984, and switched to a general entertainment format with a focus on music videos, assuming most of the operations of the local cable-only service Atlanta's Video Music Channel.
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- "A Short History of Atlanta's Video Music Channel". Downhome Traces. Retrieved August 30, 2018.