The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday August 12th

Local Cable Gains Hispanic Channels

Time Warner launched a new Spanish language tier Jan. 16 called Sabor Latino de Time Warner Cable. Although officials still are waiting for Time Warner's approval, the channels already are available to Carrboro residents.

This package, which includes nine channels, has been added to Time Warner's existing Digital Cable service throughout the state, including in Carrboro. The service is available to digital subscribers for an extra $1.95 fee.

The channels in the new package include Spanish versions of Discovery, ESPN, Fox Sports World and MTV.

Last week, the aldermen sent Time Warner a revised version of the franchise agreement, which the aldermen originally proposed in April 2001. The proposal regulates signal quality, customer satisfaction and the fees to be paid to the town in exchange for the license to franchise.

Carrboro Town Manager Robert Morgan said Time Warner officials did not approve the original franchise proposal because of disagreements about wording and a conflict with an existing town ordinance.

Brad Phillips, vice president of government and public affairs for Time Warner's Raleigh division, said the channels are being added due to customer demand. "We added (the channels) because of a growing Hispanic population," Phillips said. "Customers requested more Spanish programming."

Carrboro Alderman Mark Dorosin also cited the increase of the Carrboro Hispanic population as the reason for the channel additions. "I think it reflects the changing face of the population," he said. "The Hispanic population here is emerging."

But some officials are skeptical about whether the new Spanish channels will reach Carrboro's increasing Hispanic population, which makes up 12 percent of the town. Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said she is concerned the service won't be affordable for all residents, especially the Hispanic population it is designed to target.

Despite prior confusion, Morgan added that he is confident Time Warner will approve of the newly drafted proposal's clarified language. "Within the next 30 days, Time Warner will accept the franchise."

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