Skip to main content

Comcast Boots CMT for GAC in Sacramento

Comcast Corp.'s Comcast Cable in Sacramento, Calif.,
is switching out Country Music Television for Great American Country the end of this
month, joining a number of systems that made similar change-outs this past year.

GAC will replace CMT in Sacramento effective Dec. 31,
according to a filing that Comcast made with the Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television
Commission earlier this month. The switch-out involves more than 200,000 subscribers.

Comcast officials couldn't be reached for comment. A
CMT spokeswoman said the network had been informed that it was being dropped in
Sacramento, adding that the CBS Cable-owned country-music-video network didn't plan
an ad campaign to try to drum up subscriber opposition to the switch-out -- a tactic that
it tried in some other markets. She declined further comment.

In its filing with the cable commission, Comcast also
disclosed that it was raising its rates, effective Feb. 1. The monthly cost of expanded
basic will increase to $15, up 6 percent from its current level of $14.12.

GAC, which is paying small upfront launch fees to get
carriage, is part of Jones International Networks Inc. And MSO Jones Intercable Inc.,
which has supported GAC, is being acquired by Comcast. So it's not a surprise that
the MSO is dropping CMT for GAC in Sacramento.

In August, when Comcast's deal to buy Jones Intercable
was announced, officials said Comcast would end up owning about 30 percent of GAC, and
that it would therefore be likely to extend its carriage.

Comcast has already switched out CMT for GAC in Richmond,
Va. And at least two other Comcast systems -- in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Ind. --
launched GAC this year.

Rich Esposto, the Sacramento cable commission's
executive director, said during a public hearing earlier this month that Comcast officials
also said GAC has fewer commercials than CMT, which they cited as another reason for the

Throughout the year, GAC has gained roughly 2 million
subscribers at the expense of CMT. The most recent big switch-out was in Dallas and Reno,
Nev., by Tele-Communications Inc. GAC claimed that it gained 450,000 subscribers in Dallas
and 100,000 homes in Reno.

GAC expects to end the year with more than 6 million