Cable company shuffles channels

GCI: New numbers are aimed at making channel surfing easier

Posted: Friday, December 01, 2000

Local cable subscribers who spent time memorizing the channel lineup will have to do a memory dump and start over.

GCI today aligned nearly every channel with a new number as part of a move to restructure service options. Southeast Regional Manager Terry Dunlap said the intent was to "cluster" channels with similar programming so viewers can click up and down rather than surfing all the channels.

"We've heard complaints, and many, many requests, 'Why can't you put all the news channels together? Why can't you put all the premium services together, the music services together?' People seem to like that," said Dunlap of GCI, which serves 8,500 to 9,000 subscribers in Juneau.

The six premium channels, including HBO and Showtime, are now grouped on channels 60 to 65, whereas before they ranged from channels 5 to 22. All-news channels are grouped on channels 33 to 38 instead of scattered as before. Dunlap said all but "five or six channels" were realigned as part of an effort to restructure service packages.

GCI today combined Basic and Standard services, which in the past cost $14.16 and $21.65 per month, respectively. The result is a new Basic service that costs $19.16 and has six additional channels: KING in Seattle; KWGN in Denver; KATH in Juneau; University of Alaska Southeast TV; C-SPAN; and C-SPAN 2. The new Basic does not include The Learning Channel, as before. The other option, Preferred service with 61 channels, will cost $54.49 per month or $1 more than it cost before.

Although GCI's main telephone line was busy most of the morning, Dunlap said the office was not getting many calls from customers about the change. Cable subscribers called randomly by the Juneau Empire reported a range of reactions. Rick Garrison has five television sets, which he has to reprogram now. He said it'll take time to get used to the new numbers and that his only complaint is the HBO signal seems fuzzy now.

"When it was on a lower channel, it was clearer," he said. "The picture quality for a premium channel isn't what it should be."

A subscriber who asked to remain anonymous said she's happy GCI has included C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2 in Basic service, and that she has been "furious" in the past with the company for excluding the channels, which show unedited footage of Congress. But she is miffed GCI has moved The Learning Channel from Basic to Preferred service.

"Frequently it was the only channel that had anything you could watch there is such absolute trash on the other stations," she said.

The Juneau Empire every Sunday publishes the television guide "Channels," but the next edition will inaccurately reflect the old channel line up. Manager Yvonne Beasley said the guide was printed Tuesday with erroneous information supplied by a service in New York.

She said the paper will print the new lineup on page 12 of today's paper, and the list will appear daily through next week. The new lineup also is available online at www.juneauempire.com and on cable channel 2.



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