A.H. Belo Corp. announced plans last Thursday to launch
Texas Cable News (TXCN) in January, and Tele-Communications Inc. was the first MSO to sign
The statewide, 24-hour channel is expected to service 1
million cable customers.
TCI signed an exclusive-carriage contract to distribute
TXCN throughout its Dallas system, which serves approximately 440,000 households. Marcus
Cable Co. L.P. also agreed to carry the channel in its 190,000 homes in the Fort Worth
Belo will not sell the service to local wireless cable
operators or other competitors to cable in markets where the MSOs have already signed with
Donald F. Cass Jr., newly appointed vice president and
general manager of TXCN, said the company would set up technical facilities to allow TXCN
to deliver zone feeds to individual markets in the state.
Belo said it will invest $15 million to convert a downtown
Dallas warehouse to house the TXCN studios and offices.
TXCN will have its own news-gathering staff, and it will
also use other company resources, such as its three network-affiliated television stations
in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Belo has diversified media holdings,
including television-broadcasting, newspaper-publishing and electronic-media assets.
TXCN is the fourth cable-news venture for Belo, which
already delivers NorthWest Cable News in a three-state region in the Pacific Northwest;
NewsWatch/Channel 15, a cable-news joint venture with Cox Communications Inc. in New
Orleans; and LNC (Local News on Cable) in Norfolk, Va.
Cass would not disclose the business terms between TXCN and
TCI is expected to make TXCN available on its
"We feel very strongly that our greatest asset is our
position as a local business," said Matt Fleury, a spokesman for TCI's central
division. "This is an excellent example of our ability to offer programming to keep
our local customers happy."
Lou Borrelli, Marcus' executive vice president and
chief operating officer, called Belo "an excellent news organization." He added
that if the company's other local-news media are any indication -- the company runs
the Dallas Morning News newspaper and local ABC affiliate WFAA -- then TXCN will be
"a terrific product."