May 1, 2002 – Innovative Cable TV customers on St. Thomas and St. John will lose their Pay-Per-View channels from next Monday until early June while the company converts them to digital transmission.
Innovative Cable TV general manager Adrian LaBennett said that cable service on St. Croix already is in the midst of the conversion.
The switch to digital transmission will allow Innovative to offer 14 Pay-Per-View channels instead of the existing six. Instead of two or three adult channels, the company will offer seven.
Digital transmission works by compressing the signal. LaBennett said this allows six to eight digital channels to be sent out over the same bandwidth as one analog channel.
The switchover of the Pay-Per-View channels is the start of Innovative's move to all-digital service. "Slowly the system will go totally digital," he said.
He apologized to customers for not giving them the customary 30-day notice before shutting down the Pay-Per-View service.
Premium channels will be converted by early June, he said. The company now offers HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax. The offerings will be expanded to include such channels as HBO Latino and HBO Family. Additionally, regular programming will expand to include seven Spanish-language channels.
LaBennett said the price for the premium channels will remain the same, but customers will have to pay a rental fee for the digital converter box in order to get the premium channels as well as the Pay-Per-View ones. He said the price has not yet been set.
Converting to digital transmission also will help solve the company's theft problem. "It's an expensive battle to fight," La Bennett said. He explained that the old analog system has allowed people to hook up bootleg boxes, reducing the number of paying customers and impacting the company's bottom line.
LaBennett said cable television companies do not come under the Federal Communications Commission mandate that television stations — including WSVI and WTJX locally — convert to digital broadcasting by May 2003.
Customers with questions should call Innovative Cable TV customer service. The number for St. Thomas and St. John is 774-2080. For St. Croix, it's 778-9950.
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