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All-cartoon channel readied for cable

Cable baron Ted Turner announced on Tuesday he would launch a 24-hour cartoon channel Oct. 1, and at least one local cable operator said he was game for continuous chuckles.

The Cartoon Network, which will be fueled by Turner Broadcasting's vast library of such classic animated shows as Popeye, Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny and The Jetsons, has a solid shot at making the lineup of Paragon Cable, which serves 119,000 households in Hillsborough County. Attempts after business hours Tuesday to reach other bay area cable operators were unsuccessful.

"Typically, we'll wait to see their package," Paragon general manager Hank Sheraw said. "But with the name Turner on the channel, we know it's from a first-class operation. So I would say that The Cartoon Network enjoys an advantage already."

Sheraw said his system offers subscribers 38 to 54 channels.

"We're in the middle of upgrading, but still there's only so much room for new channels," he said. "Right now, we'd love to add Comedy Central and Court TV. But something else has to go, and it's real hard to take anything away from customers once they get used to watching."

Turner owns more than 1,000 cartoons that originally were shown in movie theaters, and 3,000 half-hour animated programs, largely because of his recent acquisition of the Hanna-Barbera collection. The new network plans to use its animated holdings much the way TNT airs continuous MGM movies, which Turner bought a few years ago. Turner spokesman Gary McKillips said that eventually The Cartoon Channel might produce its own animated programing.

McKillips said many cable systems have expressed interest in the new network.

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