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Viewers plug TV cable favorites

Though they aren't planning to alter your cable television lineup any time soon, Time Warner Communications officials want your input just in case they have to put a channel on the chopping block.

The cable company mailed a survey last week to West Hernando cable customers that asked them to rate how valuable several channels are in the event something has to go.

With 54 channels on the menu, the company is at full capacity, said Ray Graber, the company's director of government and public affairs.

As part of a franchise agreement forged with the county this summer, Time Warner will upgrade its equipment in 1998 to the tune of $25-million, which will translate into 78-channel capacity for the company and better reception for local cable customers.

Until then, the company will have to cancel a channel if it is to add any to keep up with federal regulations, Graber said.

"We do these type of surveys once in a while," Graber said. He added that when federal regulators, in this case the Federal Communications Commission, make the call to change programing, it is often with little advance notice.

By already having the survey in place, Time Warner will be able to quickly substitute a channel if it is required to add a local station, though Graber said he knew of no specific future regulatory changes.

The channels customers are asked to rate are Univision, Lifetime, A&E, Comedy Central and the Golf Channel. Graber said those were chosen because their contracts with Time Warner expire soon.

County Community Relations Coordinator Brenda Frazier said her office has fielded several questions about the survey from Time Warner customers. She said, however, that the county's agreement with Time Warner, which allows the company access to county rights of way in exchange for 5 percent of the company's revenue, does not permit the county to regulate programing.