Cable-TV Company To Donate Satellite Receivers To Rural Schools
Last week, one of the largest cable-television companies in the country made a commitment to donate satellite technology to 10,000 rural schools across the nation. This donation will enable these schools to access a wide range of cable programs and other services. Officials from Tele-Communications Inc., a Denver-based company, unveiled the initiative, named primestar Goes to School, at a press conference.
Through its subsidiary, primestar, TCI offers a relatively new technology called direct-broadcast satellite, which allows consumers to receive cable programming using small receiving dishes. The objective of the program is to provide schools that are not in close proximity to cable-television lines with a receiving dish, as well as a decoding device for scrambled television signals and installation services. TCI estimates that the total value of this package for each school is $2,000. The company also assures that they will provide worry-free maintenance.
Primestar will broadcast programming that is already available on conventional systems through Cable in the Classroom, an initiative by the cable industry that includes educational content from networks like CNN, the Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, and others. Keith B. Geiger, the president of the National Education Association, expressed his support for the announcement during the news conference. He commended TCI for involving classroom teachers early on in the planning process, which demonstrates their dedication to education.
Some questions have been raised about the timing of this program. It was announced shortly after AT&T Corp. revealed their plan to offer free internet connections to 100,000 schools nationwide. Both announcements coincided with House and Senate lawmakers working on legislation to deregulate the telecommunications industry. The Senate bill, unlike the one from the House, would require telecommunication companies to provide schools with affordable access to advanced digital networks. Some speculate that these industry initiatives may be an attempt to persuade lawmakers that such requirements are unnecessary. However, representatives from both TCI and AT&T denied any connection between their new programs and events in Congress. Cheryl Williams, the head of technology programs for the National School Boards Association, noted that President Clinton is likely to veto the legislation for reasons unrelated to the education provisions.