A group of Prince George's County activists passed the first hurdle yesterday in their effort to have a controversial cable television franchise award reviewed by county voters.

The group, Citizens Against Backroom Legislation (CABL), submitted petitions with over 5,000 signatures to the county's Board of Elections, the first step in getting the cable award on the ballot as a referendum question next fall. The group must submit 10,000 signatures of registered county voters by Feb. 22 if the cable award is to go to referendum, but a third of those signatures had to be submitted yesterday.

The number of signatures, said CABL chairman Timothy S. Williams, "far exceeds the required number (3,334) and demonstrates the widespread support of our effort."

The petition drive is aimed at overturning the award to Storer Cable Communications, Inc., which won the right to build a north county cable franchise system last fall by a vote of the County Council. The Council awarded the southern area franchise to MetroVision of Prince George's County, an Atlanta-based firm.

Storer was represented during the negotiations by former County Executive Winfield M. Kelly, Jr., a friend and political ally to most members of the present council. MetroVision was represented by influential zoning attorney Russell Shipley. Both awards by the council bypassed the recommendations of an independent cable commission and a consultant hired to evaluate the proposals, and sparked charges by the commission members and citizens that the awards were politically motivated.