Higher education officials want more Utah cable-television operators to carry KULC-TV, an educational station, over their local cable systems.
The presidents of the nine public colleges and universities will soon begin a letter-writing campaign to local cable operators. They plan to either thank those who already carry KULC, Channel 9, or encourage those without it to pick it up as a public service to their cable subscribers.Their action is follow-up to a State Board of Regents resolution that urges more widespread use of KULC-TV.
The station distributes for-credit college courses on a wide range of subjects. Many of the state's general education courses for baccalaureate degrees are offered via KULC-TV.
In addition, the channel carries 2,500 hours of instructional and enrichment programs for grades K-12 during the daytime.
Don Carpenter, associate higher education commissioner for planning, said while many cable operators carry KULC, others have never offered it or have dropped it in favor of entertainment stations, which provide advertising income.
"Students benefit from KULC both in rural Utah and in the outlying areas of Salt Lake. . . . They can enroll in a course, sit at home and take it over Channel 9. They get full, transferable credit to any institution in the state. If they work the swing shift, they can videotape the class and then play it back at their own convenience," Carpenter said.
The associate commissioner said that by carrying KULC, cable operators satisfy an important public-service responsibility.
Dan McCarty, state general manager for TCI Cablevision, which has more than 80 percent of the cable subscribers in Utah, also believes that KULC is a good public service, and his company is trying to provide it.
On the east side of Salt Lake City, 60,000 homes receive KULC over Channel 36 from TCI Cablevision, he reported.
Next week, the cable operator will add KULC to 25,000 cable homes in West Valley City, Taylorsville, Kearns and Magna over Channel 36, McCarty said.
By the end of 1991, when a fiber-optic cable system is added in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley, another 7,000 TCI customers in Sandy, Riverton, South Jordan and Draper will receive KULC over Channel 36, he reported.
McCarty said TCI does offer KULC in other areas of the state besides the Wasatch Front, but it is not available in all areas served by TCI.
"Channel space is limited. We try to make the decision for the customers that they want. We are very supportive of KULC programming. We feel that there is a proper niche for that programming. Over time, every year, we'll continue to add it to all areas we serve," McCarty said.
In areas where KULC is not carried, there has not been a large demand for it, he added.
Randy Lee, general manager of Sonic Cable, which has 14,000 subscribers in Cache Valley, agrees. He said his system does not carry KULC, and he has never had a request to add it from either the KULC officials or subscribers.
Currently, Sonic has no plans to add KULC because all of its 36 channels are full, Lee added.
In the next five to seven years, TCI will undertake a major capital project that will increase cable capacity throughout the state. KULC will be added increasingly as the cable system's capabilities improve, he said.
"Once this happens, this will be a non-issue," McCarty said.