R.I. Op Donofrio Dies at 78


John Donofrio, who vociferously fought back when Cox Communications Inc. came to town to overbuild his tiny Rhode Island cable operation, has died.

He was 78 when he passed away in his sleep Aug. 27.

The gruff operator was the first franchisee in the state. He got his company, Full Channel Cable TV, up and operating in 1984.

His greatest challenge, however, came in 2002, when Cox, which serves the rest of the state, petitioned the state's Public Utilities Commission to overbuild Warren, Barrington and Bristol, where Full Channel passes about 20,000 homes.

The state gave its permission, and Full Channel took a hit in its subscriber base. In reports filed with the state, the company’s last one counted just over 8,000 video customers, a drop from its high of about 12,000.

But the company remained profitable, according to the report, as the competitive pressure compelled Donofrio and his executives to find a way to upgrade the system and create partnerships that allowed Full Channel to offer consumers more products, including high-speed data and telephony.

A Full Channel petition to overbuild Cox in East Providence remains before the PUC.