Here is an article in Broadcasting magazine, Dec. 1986 from the Internet Archive.
Tulsa Cable Television
Tulsa [Okla.] Cable Television has some major changes in store for its 142,000 customers in Tulsa and 11 surrounding communities early next year.
The 12-year-old United Cable system plans to increase the number of channels from 35 to 42 and install addressable converters providing all subscribers with wireless remote control and an opportunity to order movies, sports and special events on a pay-per-view basis. And, partly to offset the cost of the new channels and services, the system plans to raise basic subscription rates more than 40%.
Tulsa Cable subscribers now pay $10.60 a month for basic service. System President Mark Savage said the system would probably increase the rate by 8% or 9% after the first of the year, when municipal regulation of basic rates ends. And in March or April, he said, it would push the fee up to $14 or $15 at the same time it expands the channel capacity and introduces the wireless remote and PPV.
Savage is not certain what will go on the seven new channels. Two will be set aside for national PPV services, he said, and one may be used for a fifth pay service, possibly Showtime. (The four current pay services are HBO, Cinemax, The Playboy Channel and Disney) The remaining channels will be filled with basic services, he said. One possibility: Carl Icahn’s The Travel Channel.
To help the basic rate increases go down a bit easier. Savage said, the system will also be “backing off” its pay rates. Instead of charging $11.95 a month for each, he said, the system may charge as little as $9.95. That means the subscriber who is paying nearly $23 for basic service and one pay channel today, may pay no more than $24 or $25 after the basic fees go up and the pay fees go down.
Like other cable operators. Savage said that Tulsa Cable has seen the pay cable market go soft. But, because it never relied heavily on multipay revenues, it has not suffered as much as some that did. Tulsa Cable’s pay-to-basic ratio today stands at nearly 80%.
Tulsa Cable does not plan to reshuffle its channel lineup “for the time being,” Savage said. The three network affiliates, one public station and one independent will remain on the same channels they use for broadcasting. Those stations are widely identified with their broadcast signals, he said, and “ghosting,” which has caused some cable operators to move broadcast signals, hasn’t been a problem.
The system doesn’t carry all broadcast signals in the market, taking advantage of the freedom it obtained when a federal court declared the FCC’s must-carry rules unconstitutional. Savage said KGCT-TV, a “very run-of-the-mill” independent, was dropped six months ago in a programing shuffle precipitated to make room for The Discovery Channel, of which United is a part owner, and C-SPAN II, which features the proceedings of the U.S. Senate. “They didn’t have any ratings,” Savage said by way of justifying the dropping of KGCT-TV. “They probably still don’t.”
With 57% penetration, Tulsa Cable is right at the industry average. Savage is dubious that the cable industry’s current effort to boost penetration — acquiring and promoting an exclusive package of National Football League games— will succeed. “There are a lot of sports out there now,” he said, citing the broadcasting, cable services and Tulsa Cable’s own sports services, which produce 52 big-time college sports events a year. “I don’t know if [the NFL] is going to produce lift. ” But, he added, “it certainly can’t be a negative.”