Cable TV Is Given Nod
By William Stimson
Spokane Daily Chronicle
The Federal Communications Commission has approved a proposed Spokane cable television system and installation of the long-awaited new service will begin immediately.
The approval apparently was the last hurdle in an eight-year struggle by CATV proponents to install cable television here.
Some Spokanites will have cable television by next summer and the service will be available to every house in the city by the end of 1977, said Roger Pierce, the newly appointed general manager of Cox Cable Television of Spokane.
That joint agreement won FCC approval after several months of study.
“That was our last obstacle,” said Pierce. “We’re ready to get down to work and build the system.”
In its contract with the city, Cox has a maximum of 30 months to provide cable television to all parts of the city.
Those who purchase the service—at a price now fixed at $5.95 per month in the contract—will have access to 27 television channels rather than the four now offered.
The additional channels will include new entertainment stations brought in from other cities, and specialized channels on education, health, sports and news.
At an additional cost, subscribers to the service will be able to view first run motion pictures and otherwise untelevised major sports events.
Pierce said this service will be available for a monthly charge of $7 or $8.
The cable television system will be the only one in the city and, in return for this exclusive right to operate here, must operate within strict guidelines set down by the city.
Only the City Council can permit an increase in the monthly service charge. Cox has also agreed to provide stations to area schools, hospitals and other public service agencies for their programming and use.
One channel will be completely open to public access. Groups or individuals will be invited to use the channel to discuss any matter they wish, subject only to rules of propriety.
Pierce, who has just moved his family to Spokane, had been head of all Cox television franchises in Washington and Oregon. He said the company runs cable television services in Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Long Beach, Wash. and Astoria, Seaside and The Dalles, Ore.
Pierce said his chief construction engineer has just moved to Spokane, too, and is ready to begin work immediately.
The cable television lines will be strung adjacent to power lines and telephone lines in all parts of the city. Where these lines are buried, the company will have to dig up streets to put down new cables, Pierce said.
Eventually the Spokane cable television system will employ 75 to 100 people on a permanent basis, Pierce said.
“We intend to put our first customer on line next July 1 and that’s when we’ll start marketing our product,” said Pierce.
He said around 10 per cent of the system should be complete by then.
Pierce will begin looking for a temporary studio complex next week. Eventually the company will build its own facility, he said.
Pierce described the programming of the 27 channels as follows:
—The four existing Spokane stations.
—Channel 11 from the Seattle-Tacoma area, as an independent entertainment station.
—Another independent entertainment channel brought in from Canada.
—Five educational channels programmed and operated by School District 81, Washington State University, Gonzaga University, Spokane Falls Community College and possibly other institutions. These can be used for extension courses, lectures, or any type of educational program the schools produce.
—The local public access channel.
—A local news and entertainment channel produced by Cox Cable TV. Pierce said news shows and local sports will be featured.
—A channel devoted to medical education, programmed by Spokane’s hospitals.
—Channels that focus all day long on teletype machines providing continuous news, sports and stock market reports.
—The “movie channel” provided for an additional monthly payment.
Friday, August 29, 1975