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The channel, which featured video disc jockeys, signed a deal with US Cable in 1978 to expand its audience from retail to cable television.The service was no longer active by the time MTV launched in 1981.In his book The Mason Williams FCC Rapport, author Mason Williams states that he pitched an idea to CBS for a television program that featured "video-radio", where disc jockeys would play avant-garde art pieces set to music.CBS rejected the idea, but Williams premiered his own musical composition "Classical Gas" on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, where he was head writer.The Beatles had used music videos to promote their records starting in the mid-1960s.
It has also become involved in promoting left-wing political issues and progressive social causes.
MTV has spawned numerous sister channels in the US and affiliated channels internationally, some of which have gone independent, with approximately 90.6 million American households in the United States receiving MTV as of January 2016.
Several earlier concepts for music video-based television programming had been around since the early 1960s.
Few artists made the long trip to New Zealand to appear live.
MTV launched with the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll," spoken by John Lack and played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia (which took place earlier that year) and of the launch of Apollo 11.