In a move that is unique in the Southeast area, Bell and Cudahy city officials have established a joint cable television commission that will award an exclusive franchise for both communities.
Three cable companies have applied to serve the franchise. Officials said a contract is expected to be awarded by the end of the year, and service could begin as early as 1986.
Officials said the Bell-Cudahy Cable Television Commission was formed in an effort to counter claims from cable companies that, individually, the two cities are too small to successfully support a cable service. Officials said that Cudahy has about 5,100 households and Bell has more than 9,200 dwellings.
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By combining into one joint powers authority, the two cities expect the cable companies to view them as one franchise, said Byron Woosley, executive director of the organization and city administrator of Bell.
Difficulty in luring prospective cable companies prompted city officials to combine their cable television recruitment efforts. In a year's time, for example, more than 100 letters were sent nationwide in an attempt to lure a cable company into Bell, city officials said.
Woosley said no more than 15 companies expressed an interest in Bell's offer and that the majority of those companies suggested a joint operation between Bell and Cudahy.
Since cable companies base predicted profits on the number of households they can possibly serve, the two cities agreed that combining would increase interest.
Woosley said the three cable companies that are seeking the franchise--Masada Corp., based in Birmingham, Ala., Heritage Cablevision, based in Des Moines, Iowa, and Marsh-Media Cable TV, based in Murfreesboro, Tenn.,--met the Sept. 30 application deadline and have each paid a $2,500 application fee.
A Bell official said Heritage Cablevision serves Hawaiian Gardens, Compton and South El Monte, while Masada Corp. has been granted a franchise in Claremont and Marsh-Media Cable TV has been awarded a franchise in Chino.
The commission has hired a private consulting firm, Los Angeles-based Telecommunications Management Corp., to evaluate each company's application and forward its recommendations to the commission. The recommendations are expected by mid-November, Woosley said.