CABLE TELEVISION for the District of Columbia is still on the way, even if the picture has seemed a little blurry of late. No adjustment to your set -- or of any sights set on the arrival of cable -- is necessary, we're informed; the temporary interference being experienced by the city and by the firm awarded the franchise is called litigation, and it's coming from one of the losing bidders. Until that is out of the way, the official signing of the cable agreement will have to wait -- because the necessary financing will be waiting too. Hopes are that this won't take long; already, there are indications from the court that it will move the matter as fast as possible.
In the meantime, D.C. Cablevision Inc., which was awarded the franchise after long and careful review by the city of all bids, hasn't even tried to pin down the necessary financing that has to accompany the official signing of its agreement. It isn't that banks and other lending institutions are backing away; the mere existence of any pending lawsuit puts a damper on overtures for financing.
So far, no deadline has been missed, anyway. The whole schedule is tied to the congressional review period attached to every law enacted by the city, and that's counted in legislative days. A rough guess is that the deadline for District Cablevision will fall somewhere in mid-March. Given the detailed procedural history and reviews of the award, the judicial disposition might be completed by then.
Were it a case of District Cablevision defaulting in any way, the city would be right to look for another firm. But that's not the case. To award the franchise now to one of the firms that lost would be unfair. Certainly the firm that is suing shouldn't be rewarded merely for filing a suit; if that's how it works, all the competitors could sue each other and cancel themselves out of the running.
The best resolution, then, would be swift action by the court. Until then, the practical course for the city government is to stick by its decision -- and with the firm it selected. This is still the best hope for keeping the construction schedule intact and for bringing cable to the sets of the first homes in every section of the city by early next year -- as agreed to when all was originally said and done.