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Disney to join expanded basic cable service

Who says you can't get something for nothing?

If you subscribe to TCI Cablevision's expanded basic service, come Dec. 1, you'll start getting the Disney Channel for free.

Currently, the premium channel costs TCI customers $12.84 a month.

Before you start humming the Mickey Mouse anthem, be aware that you may see a rate increase soon. "With the new (Federal Communications Commission) ruling, every quarter, cable companies can review the rates," said Vickie Chansler, area manager of TCI in Pasco County. When there are programing changes, such as the addition of Disney, the cable company can change the rates, she said.

"If there is a change, it would not be effective until April 1995," Ms. Chansler said.

If the rates do go up, subscribers will not be allowed to opt out of getting the channel in order to lower their rates, she said. "The Disney Channel is going to be a part of expanded basic from now on." Other cable systems in the U.S. have started offering the channel free, and "it's been very well-received," she said.

The Disney Channel will continue to be shown Wednesdays on the tv! channel on 49, which was added to TCI's lineup in September. tv! channel offers samples of several existing and proposed cable channels. That, too, is subject to change as the tv! channel format changes.

The new Disney status means several channel number changes.

The Weather Channel will move from channel 36 to the now-unused channel 55.

The Disney Channel will move from channel 23 to 36.

A new pay-per-view channel will debut on channel 23, offering action, adventure and thriller movies, for $3.99, and specials at $5.95 to $14.95. A cable converter will be needed.

The Mind Extension University on channel 54 will be discontinued. People enrolled in MEU courses will receive videotapes so they can finish.

The Learning Channel will be added on channel 54.

"We've had a lot of requests for the Learning Channel," Ms. Chansler said.