AT&Ts Bay Area Subs Get a Vote


More than 1 million cable subscribers in the San Francisco
Bay area will be able to stuff the ballot box beginning May 20 on behalf of their favorite
analog channel.

AT&T Broadband & Internet Services (formerly
Tele-Communications Inc.) is polling customers in its cluster centered in San Ramon,
Calif., to determine which channels will fill the next available slots in the region.

"Each customer's vote does count. This survey is
one of the most important factors in local programming decisions, which is a process that
involves carefully weighing many variables. The goal is to create a channel lineup that
pleases every customer and reflects the tastes in each diverse community," TCI West
division vice president of marketing Mindy Jeffries said in a prepared statement.

It's not the first time the region has gone to its
customers for guidance. A survey in late 1997 attracted more than 200,000 responses --
about the same number of people who voted in the Contra Costa County area in the 1998
state gubernatorial election -- the company noted.

On the programming "ballot" are Animal Planet,
Cartoon Network, ESPN2, Food Network, Fox Family Channel, The Learning Channel, Ovation -
The Arts Network, Sundance Channel, Toon Disney and ZDTV.

Programmer representatives said they are pleased when
consumers are empowered.

Executives at Food, for example, said they have high ballot
hopes because some of the network's new programs have San Francisco ties. For
instance, the food and wine editor of San Francisco magazine hosts the upcoming Ultimate

"San Francisco is such a Food market. We think [the
vote] will be a good thing for us," an executive said. The network has already made a
launch proposal.

Consumers can vote through June 10, but there will be no
grand announcement of the results. When TCI announced the poll, the company added,
"because the survey data could assist TCI's competitors in the increasingly
competitive telecommunications marketplace, the results will not be released