Page 1


C.P.I. is the ground floor Austin Texas’ first regional cable network probably will be owned by Communications Properties, Inc. In addition to its cable holdings, CPI is in the microwave business. It recently was authorized by the FCC to construct a statewide microwave system that may eventually extend into New Mexico and Louisiana. While the cable functions mainly as a short-distance relay operation, microwave beams information over long distances. At present CPI’s microwave system is being used to pick up long distance television signals for transmission of network broadcasts to regional affiliates and also for picking up broadcast signals for cable subscribers. Last year CPI President Jack R. Crosby told Financial Trend magazine that the company is primarily interested in regional data and facsimile transmission. This could include transmission of banking data, newspaper facsimiles, most any sort of information someone will pay to transmit. The microwave, like an electric utility, can be hooked up to other systems extending its signals across the country, and, via satellite, around the world. “We’re going to be in the advertising business,” Crosby says. “Anything that goes to the ultimate consumer, we think will be compatible with our efforts.” As required by the FCC, the cable systems presently being constructed by CPI have a two-way capacity. “Let’s say that Sakowitz wants to do some merchandising in your home and you tune into that channel the merchandising channel you buy by response, by a box on your, set, buy that merchandise,” Crosby explains. “You can do the same with a Gallup Poll, having a two-way response and with many other things. You see, the cable that goes into the home for the television cable system has a thousand times the carrying capacity of a telephone wire.” Crosby says CPI’s regional television network would concentrate on sports events and entertainment features. The company already has a radio network, the Texas State Network, purchased last year for $3.8 million. TSN provides live news, sports and other programming to 120 affiliated stations in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. In addition to owning 47 cable television systems in the United States, CPI also manages and provides technical assistance to a cable operation in Mexico City. CPI also is in the oil business and its manufacturing subsidiary, Mattco, Inc., produces specialized pumps, brake rims and other equipment used on drilling rigs. According to a financial statement provided to the Houston City Council, CPI grossed $23 million last year. K.N. The wondrous cable Austin Because of the coaxial cable, television is no longer a scarcity product. Thirty, sixty, a hundred channels, some with two way capabilities, are possible today. We highly recommend the September, 1972, Scientific American to those who want to understand the technology of the cable and other new and soon-to-be-refined communications techniques. We’ll take the unscientific word of FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson who says that comparing a coaxial cable to a telephone wire is like “comparing Niagara Falls to a garden hose.” A hundred channels at your fingertips right there in your own knotty pine panelled den. It’s going to make a lot of money for somebody \(see box on if the cable people offer us every commercial thing from a burglar alarm system to the Nieman Marcus gift catalogue of the air, there should be enough channels left over to provide a cornucopia of valuable information as well. SOME MEDIA freaks see the revolution slouching into our homes via the cable. Gene Youngblood wrote in the first Print Project America: “The revolution in America will not be realized in the clash of political ideologies, or in the class struggle of material power groups. The socio-economic structure of our culture is swiftly transforming from one based on capital to one based on information. We live in an information processing environment, where wealth is knowing what to do with energy, and where energy is extracted from matter by inputting information… . “Within this decade the question of power will be a matter of how much information one holds, what kind of information and the manner in which that information is disseminated through the culture. If the communication channels are totally decentralized in two-way systems which transform the consumer into a producer at that point the American Revolution will be won. It’ll be power to the people in a way Marx never anticipated.” Within 20 years the entire nation will be wired, and broadcast television as we know it today may not exist. If we defer the decision making to CPI and the Houston City Council, the cable will be nothing more than a convenient supermarket for commercial commodities and all the Doris Day and Joe Namath our weary eyeballs can absorb. But it could be so much, much more. . . . After years of confused deliberation, the Federal Communications Commission finally has set up guidelines for cable programming. Every cable system now under construction must have one non-commercial public access channel, available without charge at all times, on a first-come first-served basis. This means anyone can do programming. The FCC allows cable companies to charge production costs, but a city may require. a cable company to provide equipment or technical assistance to the public for free. It was pointed out at the Houston hearing that the cable company should make its system compatible with half-inch video equipment. Most television stations use two-inch videotape, which requires the handling of cumbersome equipment, but anyone can learn to use half-inch equipment in an hour or two. It can be carried by hand or set up on light-weight tripods, and it can go virtually anywhere. Like audio recording tape, videotape can be instantly replayed. There is no time-consuming developing process. With a well-equipped studio, mobile half-inch equipment and helpful technicians, citizens should be able to produce interesting programs very cheaply. The cable industry also should be able to support regional independent producers of documentaries, special interest programs, dramas, soap operas, variety shows, musical programs and other productions that have never had an outlet on the ‘limited number of broadcast channels. HE FCC requires each cable company to educational-instructional station, without November 17, 1972 provide one charge for the first five years. At the Houston hearing, the Houston Teachers Association asked that the city require free hook-ups and ongoing subscriptions for schools and one fifth of all channel capacity for educational programming.