Adelphia to go ahead with plans

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 14, 2003

Ironton cable subscribers may receive two channels they had asked for, but may also get three channels that were opposed by hundreds of residents from throughout the community.

At City Council's regular meeting Thursday, about a dozen people, including representatives from several local churches, presented petitions totaling more than 800 signatures and voiced their opposition to Adelphia Cable's plan to add three adult programming pay-per-view channels to its digital services.

Father Wayne Morris, an associate priest at St. Joseph-St. Lawrence churches and vice president of the Ironton Area Ministerial Association, presented petitions from nine local churches with 754 signatures.

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"We are insulted by the presumption of Adelphia that we would want these channels in our community," he read from a letter he had written. "As a community of Christian believers, we detest such material.

…Further, the easy availability of this material, even if our own households do not subscribe to such material, will teach our children that such ideals and actions are acceptable and that the need for morals is not necessary."

Pastor David R. Peoples, from Mt. Olive Baptist Church, presented a petition with an additional 60 names and read a written statement urging Adelphia to think about the children of Lawrence County.

"Many young people are coming of age and will become our community and our nation's leaders," he said. "What we are exposed to now will shape what we will become tomorrow and drive our actions towards others."

Ironton resident Derek Wetter was the lone voice in support of adding the channels. He said he did not support pornography in any way, but believes in freedom of choice.

"You cannot mandate morality. It has to be chosen," he said. "You cannot pick and choose what you think is immoral."

Steve Trippe, Adelphia's area manager from Chillicothe, attended the meeting at Council's request. He said the company has not done this without a lot of thought and are not marketing it at all, but believe they must offer these channels to remain competitive with satellite services.

Of the companies 5,000 customers in the Ironton-area, only 950 residents subscribe to the digital service that has much better privacy features than the past, he said.

Trippe said Ironton is the only community in which it has been a controversy, but virtually all of Council said they opposed the programming.

The issue began in January when council received a letter informing them of the changes and stating that the additions were based on customer demand.

When asked Thursday by Councilman Richard Price if that demand was specifically from Ironton, Trippe said he could not say if that was the case, but that many regional customers have requested adult channels.

Price also asked Trippe to see why Portsmouth has 15 channels that Ironton does not, but the cost is the same.

To follow up on requests made at a visit in November, Trippe informed council that the Eternal World Television Network would be added and council has the option to add Ohio News Network if they are willing to sacrifice WLWT out of Cincinnati, channel 5. Due to conflicting programming with other stations, it is currently blacked out 63 percent of the time.

The Eternal World Television Network will be added as channel 19. To make room for the new station, GAC will be moved from 19 to channel 60. QVC, channel 70, will switch with WTBS, channel 6.

Trippe he said he would take the community's concerns to his bosses, but unless something changes the three adult pay-per-view channels- Playboy TV, Spice and the Hot Channel will be added February 20.

Council chairman Jesse Roberts asked Trippe to return in 30 days after talking with the corporate management and then Council will make a decision on adding ONN.

Adelphia's contract to provide cable service to the city expires in 2006.

In other business, Charles Meadows asked Council to look into the Riverfront Park to Veterans Memorial Park. Council was supportive and Bob Lipker, Parks and Recreation committee chairman, said he would look into the matter.

After the regular meeting, Council hosted an open work session to discuss the 2003 budget. No action was taken and another session will be called before the final budget must be adopted March 31. For a complete story the workshop and the state of the city's proposed budget, see Sunday's edition of The Ironton Tribune.