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Cable TV Firm Expects to Miss Deadline

Times Staff Writer

A United Cable Television official predicted Monday that his company would not meet a deadline of midnight tonight for activating all of the long-awaited East San Fernando Valley cable TV system.

“We’re going to be very close,” said United attorney Scott Adler. But he said the company probably cannot meet the city-imposed deadline for the entire 870-mile system.

United, calling in crews from as far as Denver, has activated 99% of the system, Adler said. Activation is adding power to cable so it is capable of providing service to homes.

United won the franchise in 1983 on the promise that it would complete the system by December, 1985. In June, the City Council granted the company an unprecedented fourth extension until today to activate the system. United faces $186,500 in fines if it fails to meet the deadline.

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United--already fined $271,000 in recent years for failing to meet city deadlines--contends that past delays have been beyond the company’s control.

Susan Herman, general manager of the city Department of Telecommunications, which regulates cable in the city, did not know the status of the East Valley system on Monday but said she will send an inspector out Wednesday to see if United has met the deadline.

Adler argued that the company is “substantially in compliance” with the completion schedule.

Steve Schippers, United’s director of operations, refused to speculate on how soon service would be available to all residents. United has nearly 46,000 customers. Portions of Studio City, Toluca Lake and Universal City still lack service.

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United’s franchise area takes in the Valley east of the San Diego Freeway and north of Ventura Boulevard, except for portions of Sylmar, Sunland-Tujunga and Sun Valley.

“We are as anxious to complete the system as residents are to get cable,” Schippers said. “It only makes good business sense. We’ve made an enormous investment in this cable system. We’re not going to sit by and watch that investment sit idle.”


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