Arlington's cable television system has come under attack by the county government's cable chief, who accused the system's owners of "very poor judgment" in their decision to replace a Hispanic-language channel with a third sports channel.
Ron Carlee, the county cable administrator, warned officials of the cable system that as a result of the switch the county might reject the company's request to switch a school-controlled channel that the firm wants to use for new programming to a channel to be created.
In a letter to Arlington Cable Partners, the franchise owner, Carlee said the decision to switch programming without consulting the Arlington County Board or its cable advisory committee amounted to a "further erosion of basic service" by ACP, which was recently granted a rate increase.
The county controls programming on only six channels of the 35-channel system. The school system controls four of those six channels with the county's permission.
The County Board last month agreed to turn over control of one of its channels to ACP to improve the variety of programming, but reserved the right to reclaim it. The School Board is to consider a similar move next month.
But Carlee said the county's cable advisory committee is "disgusted" with ACP's failure to notify it of plans to remove the Hispanic programming from one of the channels controlled by the cable firm. It was the only programming that served a minority population in Arlington, and has been replaced with the Home Team Sports network.
Wayne Vowell, ACP's vice president for marketing and programming, said yesterday it is possible that the Hispanic network, available now on conventional television, will be put on the cable channel that ACP is seeking to get from the schools.
He said marketing surveys showed viewer demand for the extra sports network and that ACP was given a sudden deadline for picking it up last month that precluded immediate consultation with the county.