IF THE EFFICIENCY with which the D.C. government has approached cable television is any indication of how city hall might run such a system, viewers are in for years of going through channels and getting test patterns. Around the beltway and coast to coast, most jurisdictions have at least begun stumbling into the business in one way or another-- some of them making expensive mistakes--but until Council Chairman Arrington Dixon finally blew a legislative fuse last week over delays on this score, there hadn't been more than a flicker of movement.

The only decision on cable so far has come from a task force that completed a--you guessed it-- study and then recommended that the government set up another group to--yes--study the subject some more. Meanwhile, back in the pigeonholes of the D.C. Council, there's been a bill hidden by Wilhelmina Rolark in her capacity as head of the committee supposedly handling this matter as well as in her tradition of blocking certain bills. (Ever wonder what happened to a bill providing a genuine no-fault auto insurance system for the city?)

The legislation would set up a cable television office and start the process of finding the best operators. But until Mr. Dixon got justifiably impatient and introduced his own bill last week, nothing was moving. Only then did he receive assurances that there will be council action this month.

What happens next, as they say in the business, remains to be seen. The idea is not to rush head- long into a sloppy agreement with just any cable operator--but neither is it to prolong a decision forever. As council chairman, and as someone who is serious about addressing the question of cable television for the District, Mr. Dixon should continue to press the issue until it is resolved.