1976-02-00 HBO switched to broadcasting on a transponder of a Satcom 1 satellite.
1976-03-26 Satcom 2 satellite was launched.
1976-07-01 Showtime debut on Times-Mirror cable systems in Escondido, Long Beach and Palos Verdes, California (PAY). It replaced the Channel One (since 1972/3?) franchise they were using. It served Viacom and Times-Mirror (through exclusive marketing agreement) cable systems.
1976-09-00 the broadcast network Spanish Information Network (SIN) added on satellite for distribution to broadcast affiliates around the country.
1976-09-01 PRISM signed on in Philadephia (PAY) (it started originally as Hollywood Home Theater).
1976-12-17 Ted Turner's broadcast TV channel, WTCG (Watch This Channel Grow) channel 17 (the future WTBS) Atlanta, became the second satellite-delivered programing service and the first satellite-delivered broadcast station (or superstation) for the cable industry. It was leased on a transponder on Satcom 1. The channel was uplinked by Satellite Syndicated Systems (originally called Southern Satellite Systems).
1976-12-18 (date approximated) during the hours when WTCG signed off for a few hours overnight, Satellite Syndicated Systems filled the transponder slot WTCG used with public domain movies. It would later be the nucleus of the formation of a future cable channel called "Satellite Programming Network" in 1978 when WTSG expanded to a 24-hour operation.
In 1976, Through extraordinary effort, Delmer Ports, NCTA Vice President for Research and Science, blocks the Federal Aviation Administration in its strenuous effort to force cable out of all frequencies not allocated for television. Leaky cable installations, however, would inadvertently "broadcast" (at low power) some cable channels in the 14-22 (A-I) band that could be picked up by VHF Air/Police band radios when placed close enough to the leaky cable drop wire. Leaky cable would also cause ghosting on cable channels that would pick up interference from signals in the VHF Air/Police band or near some strong prescence VHF TV signals coming into one's household.
In 1976, The Copyright Revision Act is passed by Congress. For the first time, this establishes a "compulsory license" allowing cable systems to retransmit broadcast stations and sets fee schedules for carrying distant signals. The cable operator is liable for copyright payments.
In 1976, FCC repeals distant signal "leapfrogging" rules, allowing cable systems to import signals as they choose.
In 1976, when the FCC informed WTCG-TV owner Ted Turner that he could not hold the license for the TV station and also feed programming nationwide via satellite, he offered Southern Satellite Systems to Ed Taylor for one dollar to get around the limitation. Taylor paid the dollar, changed the name to Satellite Syndicated Systems, and through a business arrangement, began uplinking the TV station to a transponder on RCA's Satcom I satellite. It was the birth of what would eventually become Superstation WTBS, now a separate TBS network as the cornerstone of Ted Turner's own lineup of cable networks as the years progressed.
Source: The Cable Center website: Cable History Timeline: http://www.cablecenter.org/resources/exhibits/cable-history-timeline.html