The properties of a liquid crystal television to be used as a spatial modulator of the polarization of a laser beam are studied. It is found that the model most commonly used for the display description does not adequately reproduce the transmission through crossed polarizers. A new model is proposed that takes into account additional birefringence effects resulting from border effects near the television windows. With this correction, the anomalous behavior of the television is explained and the throughput for different configurations is properly predicted. © 1996 Society of Photo−Optical Instrumentation Engineers.