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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — After waiting for years, members of the base community should get a broader choice of cable television options starting this month.

For some residents of Sasebo’s Hario Housing Village, changes should become tangible this week. Americable International says it will offer Hario customers a period of free usage before the company starts charging for optional programming.

On Tuesday, in an e-mail routed to include Stars and Stripes, Americable Vice President Mike Jackson said, “We are ready to go down at Hario, with 99 percent of the base spliced and ready for signal activation.

“Outside of waiting for approval for one power supply … we are currently set to go with about half of the Hario area, and can move through the rest of the area once the power supply is approved and set.”

Base spokesman Chuck Howard confirmed the start-up, adding that John McCorts, Sasebo’s Americable manager, said the company is activating the Hario housing area this week.

“Americable will start with Bara Tower first and will activate other sections [of Hario] as soon as possible,” Howard added.

Viewers at some Pacific bases might already have an expanded cable service or the option to purchase a decoder and satellite dish to expand TV channel choices. Sasebo, however, has counted on Americable to provide that service. The start of expanded services originally was projected for December 2002, according to the Web site of the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, Yokosuka Contracting Department.

But at the Feb. 21 Sasebo Naval Base town hall meeting, Mark Pickrell, then-Sasebo’s Americable manager, announced that the system would begin activations the first week of March.

However, the first week of March became the second week, then the third, and so on, with no Americable service.

“The contract does not specify the start-up date,” Howard noted. “In the past, Americable provided us with their estimated start-up date, which has been postponed due to some unexpected administrative, personnel and technical issues.”

Cable users in Sasebo currently get free service that includes a full lineup of American Forces Network channels, a few Japanese channels, a command channel and a 24-hour movie channel operated by the public affairs office.

Americable plans to offer a free “military tier” of service that includes programming similar to what is currently available, plus a local weather channel, a high school channel and, for $13.95 per month, an option to purchase The Movie Channel.

The tier No. 2 option will cost $37.95 a month. It includes the free channels and several others, such as a local MWR channel, Adventure One, CNN International, Animal Planet, Fox, The Golf Channel, Cartoon Network and ESPN. This level also features the option to purchase other channels such as Showtime for $12.95 a month, The Filipino Channel for $9.95 a month and Viva-Cinema One for $10.95 per month.

“It’s going to come on in phases,” Pickrell said at the February meeting. “People will be getting it free initially and have time to decide what options they might like to have.”

Howard said that until the startup date, viewers will continue to receive existing services and channels.

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