Digital Cable May Be in Store



The UB campus network may be growing significantly next year as a proposal for a new digital cable system is currently under consideration.

The University Residence Halls and Apartments (URHA) has proposed the option of digital cable to on-campus residents. This new system will consist of approximately 100 new channels, including the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, C-Span, Cartoon Network and audio channels, among others.

Digital service will cost subscribers approximately $34 a month. Premium digital packages, which may include channels such as HBO and Showtime, will begin at an additional $12 per package. The current basic cable system will still be available for non-digital subscribers at no cost.

Currently, URHA is distributing a survey to returning students at room selection meetings to see if there is a demand for pay cable, and if so, which channels students would like to see offered in a pay cable service.

Pete Niland, assistant director of customer service for the residence halls, emphasized that this is all in the proposal stages.

"There is no decision yet," said Niland. "Chances are the digital service will be offered, but nothing else is decided yet."

Many students seemed excited at the prospect of additional channels.

"I would love more channels, and I'd pay the $35," said John Thomas, a junior exercise science major. "Per semester, that only adds up to a little over a hundred dollars. I don't think it will break anyone's bank."

"New channels would be good," said Scott Joseph, a sophomore classics major. "I think if the price stays where they've suggested, it's a good deal."

Other students did not like the idea of monthly payments for cable service, particularly when they watch only select channels.

"The only channel I want is Empire Sports," said Tom Stewart, a freshman history major. "Now I may have to pay $35 for 100 channels when I want one. That doesn't make me happy."

Stewart and other sports fans may be in luck. In an effort to control costs, the long-demanded Empire Sports Network may be added to standard cable in exchange for ESPN. ESPN would still be available, but only in TV lounges with premium digital packages. Whether or not students are in favor of this change remains to be seen.

"That's why there is a survey," said Niland. "So we can decide on what the students want."

This survey also asks students to rank both current URHA cable channels and additional channels that have been requested in an effort to re-evaluate present offerings.