Abe Pollin, owner of Capital Centre, the Washington Bullets and the Washington Capitals, reportedly is joining forces with a Canadian company to apply for the cable television franchise in Montgomery County.
The Canada-based Maclean-Hunter cable television company, headed by Barry Gage, has incorporated in Maryland, with offices in Rockville. Maclean-Hunter already has cable franchises in suburban New Jersey and in the Detroit area.
John Hansman, project manager for cable television for the county government, said firms must submit their proposals by Jan. 27. He expects a decision by July 1.
Some of the firms that would be competing with Pollin and Maclean-Hunter for the multimillion-dollar contract are the MCII-Times-Mirror Company, the Tribune/Rogers Cablesystems Inc., Warner-Amex, Storer Cable, Tel-Mont Communications, Montgomery Community Cablevision, United Cable, Continental Cablevision and Viacom.
Gage, who was scheduled to meet this morning with Pollin, confirmed late last night that Maclean-Hunter is preparing a proposal for the Montgomery franchise. Asked if the company is entering a business venture with Pollin, he replied, "You'll have to get that from Abe Pollin."
Pollin, who has called a press conference for noon today to make a "major announcement about a business venture," declined comment.
R. Robert Linowes, a partner in a local group affiliated with the MCII-Times-Mirror firm, said he learned about the Pollin and Maclean-Hunter venture about a month ago.
"I was aware it was being considered," he said. "I just wasn't sure it was worked out. I assume he is not going to be suggesting that the Capitals and Bullets will have an exclusive arrangement with Maclean-Hunter, particularly if they don't get the franchise. I'm sure he will attempt to work out something with whoever is the winner."
Hansman said, "Maclean-Hunter is one of the companies that has picked up our request for proposal. They have a company representative that has been tracking our process for over a year. I know Maclean-Hunter is interested. I never specifically heard of the connection with Abe Pollin."
One of the selling points of the Pollin venture would be the ability to provide sports programming involving his basketball and hockey teams, as well as other Capital Centre events.
There has been speculation that Pollin might establish a sports cable network. Asked recently about those plans, Pollin said: "There have been discussions. . . . "