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Construction Planned in 3 Months : FCC OKs Cerritos Plan for Local Cable TV System

April 14, 1988|BETTINA BOXALL | Times Staff Writer

CERRITOS — The city's seemingly endless quest for a local cable television system moved closer to a conclusion this week when the Federal Communications Commission bestowed its blessing on a proposal that has raised strong objections from the state's cable television industry.

"We're very excited, very pleased," said city spokeswoman Michelle Ogle. "We're planning construction within three months."

One of the last communities in Southeast Los Angeles County to be without cable television, Cerritos had difficulty finding a company willing to meet its demands that all cable lines be placed underground and that customers be offered a variety of novel cable services, such as home banking and shopping. Then when General Telephone Co. of California finally agreed to become partners in the local franchise through a joint venture with Apollo Cablevision, the state cable industry protested, throwing the matter into the FCC's court.

The California Cable Television Assn. contends that the proposed Cerritos system violates federal rules protecting cable companies from unfair competition because it would in essence allow the telephone company to provide cable service in its own telephone service area.

But Tuesday the FCC sided with General Telephone, approving the Cerritos plan with certain conditions, Ogle said. The company cannot pass any of the $7.5- million system's costs on to its telephone customers, and it must annually report to the FCC on the system.

A spokesman for the state cable association could not be reached, but Ogle said the city doubts the cable industry would appeal the federal decision.

The Cerritos proposal has been widely watched because the cable industry has argued it could have far-reaching implications, opening the door for telephone companies to get into the cable business.

Under an agreement approved last year by the City Council, General Telephone would finance the construction of the cable network and lease it in part to Apollo and in part to General Telephone's parent company, GTE Corp. Apollo, a subsidiary of T.L. Robak of San Luis Obispo, would provide the basic programming and operate the system while GTE would use the lines to conduct experiments with new transmission technology linked to about 5,000 homes.

Once construction has begun, Ogle said it will take 18 months before all the city's homes are hooked up, but some service areas could come on line within a couple of months of ground breaking.

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