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September 10, 1981 - Image 88

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-09-10

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707

Page 4-E--Thursday, September 10, 1981-The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily-Thursday, Septemb4

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Gross encounters
Or, the delights (?) of cable TV

o t oY! CABL pl
T4-E FR$TE7A
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By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
Have we escaped the cultural
sinkhole at last?
For three decades Ann Arbor existed
in a kind of twilight-zone air pocket
hazily orbiting the wonders of
American television. Capricious
geography had landed our city in a
frustrating video no-man's-land, which
forever hovered on the snowy edges of
station signals from Detroit to the east,
Toledo to the south, and Jackson and
Lansing to the west.
Success in channel reception was
painfully arbitrary, depending totally
on one's terrestrial locale - often block
by block, and even house by house. I
spent one summer walking from my
apartment to the adjoining apartment
building to watch the Tigers on
Detroit's unattainable (for me) Chan-
nel 4, while my neighbors returned the
salutations by traversing the requisite
15 feet to my place to watch Mary Har-
tman reruns on Toledo's unreachable
(for them) Channel 13.
SUCH UNITY under a common
duress made for an ongoing pageant of
camaraderie throughout the city.
Perhaps regrettably, this rite of
homogeneity has been on the wane for
the past half-decade - ever since the
entertainment Oz known as cable
television.
Cable TV continues to revolutionize
show business. Its interlocking
satellite-telephone circuitry can tran-
smit the wonders of the world - instan-
tly - to Small Town, U.S.A. Its science
has proved an entertainment godsend
to isolated regions, bringing crystal-
clear channel rieception to citizens
previously forced to watch their TV
heroes either through a snowstorm or
underwater. The cable phenomenon
has by no means been restricted to
rural America; most major cities
across the country now possess at least
one cable hookup, and some urbanites
find themselves with as many as half a
dozen companies competing for their
time and money. Subscribers are now
graced with 30-, 40-, and even 50-
channel services - entertainment from
across the country for a monthly pit-
tance. Theoretically, hundreds of dif-
ferent channels may soon be adapted to
a single TV set.
YET NOWHERE has cable's impact
been felt more acutely than in
Hollywood. Cable audiences

TaoliGNT'S tM101rg :
ATTACK OF --
15EE 61 RLS
at9 oA N oo
P0LLOA FJD BY ALL- STA
TABLE TENNIS FROM OPZA'
TWO WEE LATER
presumably crave something more
than conventional entertainment:
Cable fills the need with movies -
scores of them. Recent, uncut, grade-A.
The ever-spiraling cost of filmmaking
compounded by the recent fickleness of
the moviegoing public has triggered
panic among many film studios; most
are only too happy to sign their produc-
ts over to cable for quick, fancy reven-
ue.
Thus we witness the pageant of
movies only a few years or sometimes,
only a few months old, from Disney to
porn, parading in the privacy of one's
living room. True, Star Wars has yet to
make a video appearance - On the
other hand Close Encounters, Alien,
Superman, The Deer Hunter and
Apocalypse Now - not to mention Deep
Throat - have all made it to cable
within the past year. The entertainment
implications of this sudden availability
are enormous; some social
prognosticators already forsee the day
when theatrical movies will fade into
obsolescence, with the ancient art of
cinema confined exclusively to giant
wall screens in private homes.
THE CABLE REVOLUTION hit Ann
Arbor about eight years ago; today
three rival companies compete for con-

sumer favor, though only one of the
three qualifies as a full-service cable
hookup.
The other two - the Los Angeles-
based On and It cable companies -
operate a limited-hour service over
Detroit's Channel 20 and Ann Arbor's
new Channel 31, respectively. For
$99.95 installation plus $22.50 to $26.95
per month, the viewer receives some 50
hours of programming each week -
mostly movies, interspersed with oc-
casional sports events and variety
shows.
Yet such formats cannot compare
with the omnipotent variety - at a
smaller cost - of the now-venerable
Ann Arbor Cablevision, launched in late
1973 with a basic 12-channel outlet, in-
cluding UHF. The company slowly ex-
panded through the rigors of half a
dozen different ownerships into its
present format of 30 channels - in-
cluding two movie stations, four PBS
stations, two sports stations, Chicago
and Atlanta "superstations," plus Ted
Turner's ballyhooed 24-hour Cable
News Network. If you crave such ear-
thly delights as the Chicago Cubs,
Canadian curling championships or
Billy the Kidvs. Dracula on Channel 62,
then the world is your oyster.
QUANTITY, ALAS, doesn't always
improve quality. Cablevision's two
movie channels - one mainstream, one

"adult" - cc
best: For ever
viewer is assa
Motel Hell, He
Up the Academ
Cablevision
outlets in An
movies-they
but were often
company's ne
Phil Daniels
format about a
spruce up C
image."
Unfortunate
wholesome en
lacing up his '
likes of Street
Cold Dead, Bi
House - vio
cheaper to sho
tual diversity
film fare, on
Cablevision, h
The trend tc
the ultimate ir
universe at
science may
tellectual cree
vated cable's
network tele
seems, will al
the sinkhole
fluorishing.
Read any goi

Read any go

For the best
musical selection
in Ann Arbor.. .
y

IIAkRKS
PUB
FRIENDLY
A TMOSPHERE
FINE SPIRITS

Ann Arbor-

1 4
.V

100 s. fourth ave.
at the
ann arbor inn
769-9500

-,f 'rf'

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