TCI Cablevision is not quite the only show in town. Provo Cable Co. is aiming to provide some competition.
"I'm growing slowly, actually not too slowly," said owner Bill Nicol of Springville.He estimates that he has about 1,000 subscribers. It doesn't sound like much compared to the biggest cable company in the United States. TCI has more than a billion dollars in revenue.
But Provo Cable Co. has grown tenfold since getting a "real start" in business in September 1987. Nicol said most of his business is in apartments, but he has a few individual subscribers. "As soon as the weather gets better, we'll expand."
Nicol uses part-time help when he needs it. "It's getting to the point where I might need people full time," he said. "I have a listing in the phone book now. We get quite a few calls, but mostly we're not in the neighborhood."
The small company has had some trouble from TCI. Nicol said he is involved in a lawsuit over the Branbury Park apartments. The apartments used to have cable service from TCI and now use Provo Cable Co. "I had to hire a lawyer. I guess it's smart of them (TCI) to do it while I'm small because it is a burden."
Another problem with TCI is that the company is preventing Nicol's customers from viewing certain programs on cable. Nicol subscribes to ESPN for his customers, but TCI has an exclusive contract for certain NFL games. The station blanks out during those game times.
"It seems to me it ought to be against the law," Nicol said. He contacted Rep. Howard Nielson while Nielson was serving in Congress. Nielson's office told Nicol whom to contact. Nicol said he got some calls for more information, but that was all that came of it.
Another problem Nicol has with competing with TCI is that large companies pay proportionally less for television channels. The fee charged for a channel is a fee per customer, but companies with a lot of subscribers pay a lower rate.
Provo Cable Co. offers 17 channels for $10 a month. It is cheaper for apartments. Nicol said he is planning to upgrade in the next few weeks with more advanced equipment.
TCI charges about twice as much for 29 channels.
"I hope to eventually be real competition to them," Nicol said. "I do intend to expand."