Adelphia adds ONN to lineup

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 10, 2003

Channel surfers will see a much-anticipated change as they click to channel 20 after Adelphia Cable replaces WLWT with the Ohio News Network.

WLWT is an ABC affiliate out of Cincinnati that primarily broadcasts news. It is blacked out about 70 percent of the time. ONN is a 24-hour news station that also broadcasts the state high school football playoffs and other sporting events.

The change will go into effect by early next week, Larry Mathews, general manager of Adelphia's Huntington-Ashland-Ironton area, said Thursday at the Ironton City Council's regular meeting.

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Due to contractual obligations, ONN will be aired during the times WLWT was normally blacked out for the next 60 days. Channel 20 will then exclusively become ONN, he said.

The demand for ONN in the Ironton area has grown recently, especially after the network aired the Ironton and Portsmouth football game. For months, Adelphia had indicated that it could provide ONN with no increase to the cable service, if the community was willing to sacrifice WLWT.

Last month, Mayor Bob Cleary asked the residents to contact him or the council members to let them know what station the public preferred.

"ONN beat WLWT by a landslide based on the call-ins to my office," Cleary said. He indicated earlier in the week that he received more than 65 calls in favor of ONN and less than 5 supporting WLWT.

The council approved the change with a 6-0 vote and one refusal. Councilman Richard Price refused to vote on the motion to replace WLWT.

He first tried to amend the motion to allow the subscribers to receive both channels. Mathews again indicated that this was not possible at this time, so Price's motion was not seconded.

Price then asked to abstain on the decision to replace WLWT but was informed that the city charter states that he must vote, unless council agrees to allow him to abstain.

With a 6-1 count, Price being the dissenting vote, council voted that he would not be allowed to abstain. Because he still declined to vote yes or no, the charter laws dictated that his vote was recorded as a refusal.

For months, Price has been an advocate that area subscribers deserved both channels. He said he did not think it was council's place to take this vote because it is a corporate decision that Adelphia should make.

In most circumstances, council has no power over Adelphia's lineup choices and acts only as the voice for its constituents. However, WLWT was part of a previous agreement with the city so Adelphia wanted a recommendation from council, Mathews said.

In other business, council unanimously adopted the year's first revisions to the 2003 budget. This budget expires on Dec. 31, the end of fiscal year.

The budget dominated discussion at several recent finance committee meetings and budget workshops and was badly in need of a few small adjustments, according to City Finance Director Cindy Anderson

"I am excited because there were certain line-items that needed realigned," Anderson said on Tuesday. "I was going to have to start denying purchase orders, basically shutting down departments, and I didn't want to do that."

In the original 2003 budget, the total revenue for the general fund was previously estimated at $3,597,359. The proposed revision projects revenues of $3,798,982.

The general fund carryover at the end of the year was originally projected at $446,308 but was modified to $576,737 to reflect the addition of $60,000 thought lost to the Boyd County, Ky., income tax and $180,000 in estate/inheritance tax.

Expenditures were projected to increase as well. In the original budget, expenditures from the general fund were $4,029,122. The revision projects $4,100,317.