Originally created 08/04/98

Intercable channel list is changing



It's time to peel off that chan-nel locater sticker from the back of your television remote -- it's obsolete already.

Starting today, the area's dominant cable provider has added WGN Chicago, home of the Chicago Cubs -- who are actually in playoff contention this year -- Fox News, and Starz! premium movie channel. Also, the Disney Channel will no longer carry an extra premium charge and is now included in basic cable packages.

The new offerings are part of the second channel shuffle this year.

Overall, more than 40 channels are changing position on the dial.

To help viewers navigate the new line-up, Jones Intercable sent out notices and will be issuing channel locater stickers soon, as was done when five new channels were added in February.

Despite the flip-flopping, cable officials ultimately hope the new channel arrangements will become less confusing because networks with similar programming have more or less been grouped in clusters under a concept called "ImpacTV."

"It's genre based," said Bill Botham, public relations manager for Jones Intercable.

For instance, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports South, and the Golf Channel are located on consecutive channels under the sports category.

"Most people watch five to seven channels over and over," said Mr. Botham. "People tend to like the same types of programming, and now we've got it all lined up in a row -- bang, bang, bang."

Essentially, most local stations are staying put.

"Anything we didn't have to move, we didn't," said Mr. Botham. "There's nothing to benefit by moving Channel 26 from 8 to 9."

The new channel assignments are reflected on the programming grids in today's newspaper (Page 3B) and in the On TV book from Sunday's paper.

Rates -- which went up slightly in February when Jones Intercable added the Golf Channel, Court TV, Turner Classic Movies, Romance Classics and Nick at Nite's TV Land -- will not be rising again.

Instead, some subscribers will see a small decrease in charges.

"Anybody with Disney, their bill will go down," said Christina McCarthy, marketing coordinator for Jones Intercable, which serves approximately 90,000 subscribers in the metro area.

New channels

Here's a breakdown on Jones Intercable's channel additions:

WGN (Channel 17) -- Besides Cubs and White Sox baseball games, this Chicago superstation broadcasts more than 300 sporting events per year including the games of the NBA champion Chicago Bulls. The station also carries popular WB (Warner Brothers) Network shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek. Other programming includes cartoon blocks, movies and reruns of Simon & Simon, Wiseguy and Beverly Hills 90210.

Fox News Channel (Channel 31) -- Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 24-hour news channel claims its global presence -- with major news bureaus from New York to Moscow to Jerusalem -- makes it stand out in an ever-expanding field. From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., the network offers updated news reports each half hour, followed by 20-minute segments focusing on one topic, such as health, entertainment, religion, technology and politics.

Starz! (Channel 22) -- Movies are this premium channel's bread and butter. The service boasts more first-run theatrical releases in prime time than any other movie channel. Titles for the remainder of 1998 include The English Patient, Evita, Sling Blade, Con Air, G.I. Jane and Liar, Liar. Programming also includes Hollywood One on One, a celebrity interview show about upcoming theatrical releases.

Disney Channel (Channel 56) -- NBC's summer rerun slogan, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you," applies to the Mickey Mouse network, previously only available as a premium channel. Programming includes kid-friendly animated features and classic Disney movies, as well as music and sports specials designed to appeal to all viewers.