Hartford Area Cable Television Advisory Council
Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Simsbury, West Hartford, Windsor
History of the Hartford Area CATV Franchise
The initial application for the Hartford area franchise was foiled with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by New England Industries, Inc. (NEI) of New York City, on April 21, 1964. On March 21, 1967, New England Industries, Inc was granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity by the PUC to construct and operate a cable television system in the towns of Hartford, West Hartford, East Hartford, Windsor, Bloomfield and Simsbury. Shortly thereafter, NEI formed a subsidiary corporation, Hartford CATV, Inc to operate the franchise. The firm was owned 95% by NEI and 5% by Irving s. Ribicoff and David Kotkin of Hartford.
The PUC's decision to award some seventeen franchises in Connecticut, including the franchise to NEI, was appealed by disappointed applicants including TV Channel 30. The appeals were rejected and the franchises granted by the PUC sustained by the Conn. Supreme Court decision of May 17, 1970 (Connecticut Television Inc., vs. Public Utilities Commission 189 Conn 317).The PUC did not press any of the CATV to franchises to proceed with construction due to notification of proposed rule-making by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued in December, 1968. The FCC cable regulations were finally completed in February 1972. By these regulations all franchises applied to the FCC for their required certificates of compliance. All Connecticut applications were opposed by Connecticut Television Stations. Subsequently FCC rulings validated the Connecticut franchises and the FCC proceeded to approve certificates of compliance. A final challenge to the FCC approval was brought by Channel 30 to the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, but was eventually withdrawn.
Hartford CATV, Inc. received its Certificate of Compliance form the FCC during March, 1974. The first phase of strand mapping and engineering were performed for NEI by Telesystems Corporation. Late in 1971 Telesystems Corp. merged with Communications Properties, Inc. (CPI) of Austin Texas. In March 1973, subject to approval by the PIUC, CPI agreed to acquire 47 1/2%of Hartford CATV, Inc., stock in consideration for a loan of $1,000,000. to NEI ( the note was due August 10, 1978). It is assumed that the transfer of stock to CPI would lower the cost of construction and speed the completion of the system. In April, 1974 Hartford CATV entered into a contract with GTE Sylvania to proceed with the construction of the systems under the supervision of CPI.
New England Industries, Inc. by letter and application dated April 23, 1973 and supplemental exhibits and application dated through May 1, 1974, filed the following requests with the PUC.
1.) approval to transfer its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Hartford CATV, Inc.
2.) approval of transfer of ownership of 47 ½% of the common stock of Hartford CATV, Inc. from NEI to CPI in accordance to a agreement of sale dated March 30, 1973.
3.) Approval of the constructions and financing contract between Hartford CATV, Inc. and GTE Sylvania, Inc. dated April 22,1974
During the public hearing which followed the City of Hartford appeared as an intervener. In addition to opposing the applications, the City contended that the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing demonstrated that NEI was incompetent and incapable of exercising all of the full rights and privileges under its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The city, therefore, requested the PUC to revoke the Certificated of the company.
On October 3, 1974, based on their findings, the PUC approved all of NEI's applications. Following the PUC's decision, the city of Hartford brought suit against the PUC challenging its ruling that allowed NEI to transfer the 47 1/2 % of its stock in Hartford CATV, Inc to CPI. The City claimed that the stock transfer would diminish local control of the franchise. Pending the settlement of the litigation, Hartford CATV stopped construction of the system. Approximately 15 miles of cable had been stranded in West Hartford.
I January, 1975, NEI asked the Hartford Court of Common Pleas to dismiss the appeal by the City of Hartford. The company claimed that the City was not an "aggrieved party" with a legal interest in the franchise. NEI's request was over-ruled ain April by Judge Joseph H Goldberg of the Court of Common Pleas.
After a year's delay. On January 6, 1976, the City of Hartford's appeal was denied. Court of Common Pleas Judge Rodney S. Eielson ruled that the City of Hartford was not an "aggrieved Party" in the transfer of stock from NEI to CPI (City of Hartford vs. New England Industries. Inc. et al. No. 112057). The City of Hartford declined to appeal the ruling, thus ending the long period of litigation between the City of Hartford and NEI.
By June, 1976 the cable company had not made necessary financial arrangements to begin construction. Engineering plans and mapping of E. Hartford, Hartford and West Hartford were being updated in an effort to secure the financing as soon as possible. By late summer or early fall the company anticipated filing for approval of financing, Construction and rate schedules with Public Utilities Control Authority (PUCA)