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TV Firm Asks More Time as 1st Clients Get Cable Picture

Times Staff Writer

United Cable Television of Los Angeles on Tuesday finally began providing service to its first East San Fernando Valley customers--a dozen Sylmar homes.

But, at the same time, the company has asked the city for still more time--until April, 1988--to complete installation of the long-delayed East Valley system.

The 12 homes receiving service Tuesday are among 2,500 residences in Pacoima, Mission Hills and Sylmar expected to be hooked up to cable by the end of the month, said Margaret Durborow, United’s marketing director.

It is the first area to receive service because the homes are closest to United’s transmission facility, Durborow said. The first homes to receive cable were chosen from among “several thousand” residents who signed up for the service as long as a year ago, she said.

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“I’m very excited,” said Kelly Lamb, a 25-year-old mother who was among the first to receive cable service Tuesday. “I’ve waited five years to have cable.

“What’s life been like without The Disney Channel?” she said. “Very expensive to go to the movies. It’s nice to have it in your own home.”

$500-a-Day Fines

United has installed 120 miles of the 1,140-mile system, giving it the potential to serve 15,000 of the 176,000 homes in the East Valley. Residents will be notified by mail once service is available in their area, Durborow said.

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The start of service came as United was being assessed another $500 a day in fines by the city for failing to meet Tuesday’s deadline for installing 440 miles of the system. The daily fine is in addition to $271,200 in penalties owed by the company as of Tuesday for missing a Dec. 31 deadline for completing 270 miles of the system.

United officials insist that the system is being installed as fast as possible and have asked the city to waive the fines. The request will be considered Friday by the city Board of Telecommunications, which will make a recommendation to the City Council.

United, which was awarded the exclusive East Valley cable franchise in September, 1983, originally was supposed to finish the system last December. The company received two extensions, however, pushing the completion date back to July 31, 1987.

In approving the last extension, the council established deadlines for completing segments of the system, with financial sanctions if United fails to meet them.

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Realizing they could not meet the deadlines, United officials this week submitted a new schedule to the city, which calls for completion of the system by April, 1988. The new schedule requires council approval.

United officials are confident they can meet the new schedule because it was worked out with the city Department of Water and Power, they said. United officials blamed DWP for failing to give quicker approval for the stringing of cable on utility poles.

In a related development, United last weekend opened up offices, including a studio for public access programming, at 15055 Oxnard St. in Van Nuys. Durborow said customers will be able to call the office beginning Monday after more of its staff arrives.


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