A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Why is there no Channel One on television?

August 26, 1983

Dear Cecil:

This question has puzzled me for a long time. Why isn't there a Channel One on television?

Cecil replies:

I'm glad we're finally getting around to the Fundamental Mysteries, Sandy. With some of the questions I get I have to ask, where are these people's PRIORITIES?

It turns out there was a Channel One once upon a time--in 1945, to be precise, when the Federal Communications Commission first allocated broadcast television frequencies.

Later, however, the FCC repented its generosity and decided that TV was hogging too much of the broadcast spectrum. (Each TV channel requires a bandwidth 600 times as wide as an individual radio station does.) So the Channel One band (44 to 50 MHz) was reassigned for use by people with mobile radios.

Considering how things turned out, maybe they should have reassigned Channels 2 through 13 while they were at it. This would have spared us Green Acres, arguably the worst blow to civilization since the sack of Rome by the Huns.

If you really crave to see a Channel One, though, no prob. Other countries have them. One of the Teeming Millions, recently returned from living in Japan, says that in Tokyo Channel One is used for broadcasts of NHK-General, a Japanese public TV station.

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