Council May Add Restrictions To Cable Extension Request

May 15, 1991|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

The County Council is expected to add restrictions to Mid-Atlantic Cable Co.'s request for a one-year postponement in providing cable television service in central and west county.

Council chairman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, yesterday said he expects the council will ask the county to immediately audit Mid-Atlantic's books, to collect a $5,000fee for granting the extension, and to require the cable company to carry tapes of all government, educational and public access programming by Sept. 30.

A bill to authorize the extension will be introduced at the council's June 3 legislative session.

Mid-Atlantic general partner JohnNorcutt told the county's cable advisory committee earlier this month the company was $5.5 million in debt and could not borrow any more money to finish construction.

He wants to have until Dec. 31, 1992to finish the remaining 30 miles of construction originally agreed to under a three-year old franchise agreement. The delay would affect abut 520 homes in 10 subdivisions.

Norcutt also wants to wait until Dec. 31, 1993 to carry the county government, educational and public access channels live rather than on tape.

It is Norcutt's secondrequest for an extension. He had earlier been given a six-month extension that expired Dec. 31, 1990.

The cable advisory committee voted May 8 to recommend that the council give Mid-Atlantic an extensionwithout restriction.

Gray said he is "somewhat sympathetic" to Mid-Atlantic's financial plight. He said the audit request does not imply anything is amiss, but is merely "our way of certifying that they do in fact have a money crunch." Gray said he expects to have the results of the audit in time for a public hearing June 17 on the franchise extension.

County cable administrator James O'Connor said Norcutt will have until Sept. 30 to purchase the equipment needed to carrysimultaneous cablecasts of the government, educational and public service tapes.

Norcutt said he is "glad" to have the council audit his books, and that he has no problem carrying the requested tapes.

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