Snowden seeks more public service programs on cable City council to examine transfer of area business to Jones Intercable Inc.

February 24, 1997|By Kristina Schurr | Kristina Schurr,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Annapolis and South County residents could be watching town-hall-type discussions and Board of Education and County Council meetings on local cable television, if some members of city council have their way.

At a public hearing today, the city council will examine whether to transfer local cable television operation from Tele-Communications Inc. to Jones Intercable Inc.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, said he expects that the council will vote unanimously March 10 to approve the transfer, but not before asking for more public access programming.

Snowden, chairman of the economic matters committee that studied the transfer, said he believes residents can "get a better product than they're getting."

"We're going to try to get some commitments from Jones to this kind of good citizen participation in government. We're entering the 21st century, and cable should be a lot more consumer-friendly than it is now," he said.

The public hearing is a chance for some of TCI's 25,000-plus customers to tell the council and the companies what they want to see on cable television, Snowden said.

TCI and Jones announced the transfer in November, saying they wanted to concentrate their operations in Colorado and Maryland, respectively.

Gary Massaglia, general manager of Jones, was unavailable for comment on the council's proposals.

City Attorney Paul G. Goetzke cautioned that although Jones could agree to provide more and different services than does TCI, the city can't require it of Jones under the terms of the city's existing cable television franchise agreement.

Franchise agreement

The city signed a seven-year franchise agreement with TCI in 1994. If the transfer is approved, Jones would complete the remaining four years.

The city council's approval is one step toward final approval of the transfer. The County Council and the U.S. Naval Academy also must approve the transfer.

William J. Forest, TCI's general manager, said he expects all negotiations, including a dispute over $10,000 in back franchise and late fees the city claimed TCI owed it, to be completed by the end of next month.

Pub Date: 2/24/97

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