Originally created 12/28/96

Jones Intercable adds 6 channels, hikes rates



The long-awaited Sci-Fi Channel will arrive for Jones Intercable customers in February, along with five other new channels, and of course, a rate increase.

Jones Intercable will increase its limited-basic and basic-plus cable rates about 7.5 percent when it launches its six new channels Feb. 1. Limited-basic monthly rates will increase from $9.95 to $10.70, and basic-plus rates will increase from $25.73 to $27.68.

The rate increase is not a direct result of the new channels, said general manager Ben Blackmon. The company increased rates for several reasons, including increased programming costs, increased staff and equipment upgrades.

The timing is meant to cushion the effect of the increase, he said.

"If we do have to take an increase, we always try to add new channels at the same time," Mr. Blackmon said.

The new channels are:

  • Sci-Fi Channel (Channel 61). This will be a mix of old science-fiction based shows such as V and Buck Rogers, horror movies and original programs.
  • The History Channel (Channel 27). Historical documentaries, miniseries and original programming.
  • Home & Garden Television (Channel 51). Practical information on home building and decorating, gardens and crafts.
  • Outdoor Life (Channel 54). A spinoff of the magazine of the same name. Shows on field, mountain and water sports, camping, fishing, etc.
  • Animal Planet (Channel 44). Wildlife documentaries, pet shows, three hours of daily programming aimed at pre-schoolers. Created by the same people who put on The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel.
  • The Inspirational Network (Channel 45). Cross-denominational ministry programs, music, talk and variety shows. No solicitation or fund-raisers, Mr. Blackmon said. The Inspirational Network will share time on Channel 45 with the existing EWTN, which does Catholic programming. Because EWTN frequently reruns programming, no actual EWTN shows will be lost.
  • Some pay-per-view channels will move around to make the additions fit. The company is mailing customers details of the changes, and that letter should arrive by Tuesday.

    Jones Intercable used a summer telephone survey and a fall mail survey to help select new channels.

    The decision to add the Sci-Fi Channel was driven by the surveys, even though studies show its viewership often drops heavily in the year after it has been introduced.

    "From a business point of view, that might not have been the channel we chose, but people wanted it," Mr. Blackmon said.

    Other new channels address general themes in the survey, such as requests for more educational or family programming.

    "Maybe they didn't say `History Channel,' but they said they wanted educational television in their home," he said.