Bell, Cudahy to Vote on Joint Cable TV System

Times Staff Writer

After individual efforts failed, the cities of Bell and Cudahy moved a step closer Monday to bringing cable TV to both of the small communities.

The five-member Bell-Cudahy Cable Television Commission agreed to vote March 20 on two ordinances that would establish the regulations for cable television and award an exclusive franchise.

Masada Corp., based in Birmingham, Ala., is the leading contender to obtain the 15-year franchise.

Bell and Cudahy created a joint powers authority last June after neither city was able to lure a cable franchise, said Byron Woosley, the commission's executive director and Bell city administrator. Bell has more than 9,000 households and Cudahy has about 5,100 households.

After the cities combined forces and invited proposals through nationwide advertisements and letters to the top 100 cable television firms in September, three applicants--including Masada--responded. Masada was chosen as the leading contender in December.

"It's gratifying to at last see the light at the end of the tunnel" after two years of work, Woosley said.

Firm Has 60,000 Subscribers

David Buxbaum, a Claremont attorney representing Masada Corp., said the company is in the top 60% of cable companies nationwide, with about 60,000 subscribers.

He estimated that 35 miles of aerial cable would be constructed at the rate of 15 miles per month once permits to use certain utility poles in the cities have been processed. The company will apply for the permits from two utility companies when the ordinances become law. Once the permits are processed, Buxbaum estimated, it will take 90 days to install and have the system ready for use.

Once the ordinances take effect, it will be between six to nine months before the first Bell and Cudahy viewers can switch on cable television, Buxbaum said, depending on how fast the permits are processed.

Although financial details have not been settled, the company would pay the city 5% of its gross revenues after an initial outlay of $1 million to construct the cable system, according to the company's proposal.

The company proposes to offer several options, with basic service starting at $6 per month. The most expensive package, which would include HBO, Showtime and The Movie Channel, would cost $45.95 a month. Installation in the first 90 days will be free, Buxbaum said.

Buxbaum said the franchise was more attractive after the cities combined households.

"By putting them together, it split the cost in half for the two cities."

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