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TCI OF PA. CRACKS DOWN ON CABLE THEFT WITH AMNESTY PROGRAM, SPECIAL PROSECUTION UNIT

 PITTSBURGH, May 19 /PRNewswire/ -- TCI of Pennsylvania, Inc., today announced that it has launched a campaign to crack down on cable theft, which the company said is costing it an estimated $11.76 million annually in lost revenue in its Greater Pittsburgh operations.
 The campaign will include a six-week amnesty program through June 30. During the amnesty period, those who voluntarily report that they are receiving cable service without paying for it will be converted to paying customers...without prosecution or retroactive payments. Those illegally receiving basic service and/or premium services are eligible for amnesty.
 TCI's Amnesty Hotline is 1-800-CABLE-TV. The amnesty offer applies in TCI of Pennsylvania systems in the seven-county area of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland.
 Once the amnesty period is over, the company will employ a dedicated unit to investigate and prosecute cable theft. In addition, company officials have planned a series of special meetings with members of the judiciary to inform them of the anti-theft campaign and familiarize them with theft of service laws.
 James M. Mazur, general manager of the Pittsburgh Supersystem of TCI of Pennsylvania, said the crackdown was prompted by company field audits showing that about 7 percent of all connections to TCI's system were unauthorized. Based on the current average monthly customer revenue of $28, that means the company could be losing $11.76 million annually to cable thieves.
 "Cable theft victimizes the company, but it victimizes our customers and our communities as well," Mazur said. "Customers pay more to subsidize thieves. And the communities we serve are losing as much as $500,000 annually in franchise fees."
 Mazur said the company's field audits have shown a constant theft rate of about 7 percent, no matter the community or neighborhood. As a result of those audits, the company has successfully prosecuted 28 cable thieves in 1992 and 1993, with another 11 cases pending.
 "Prosecution is time consuming, and it really is not our primary goal," Mazur said. "We would much rather convert unauthorized recipients to customers. However, we want those people to know that if they don't take advantage of our amnesty offer, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."
 The anti-theft campaign will be supported by radio and TV ads, begun this week, stressing both the amnesty offer and the potentially harsh penalties for conviction of cable theft -- up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000.
 Mazur said following the amnesty portion of the campaign, the company will consider a "tip" program to reward those who provide information leading to the identification of cable thieves.
 The Pittsburgh Supersystem of TCI of Pennsylvania serves about 380,000 customers.
 -0- 5/19/93
 /CONTACT: Evan Pattak of TCI of Pennsylvania, 412-771-8700, ext. 1440/


CO: TCI of Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: TLS SU:

09:30 -- PG005 -- 0219 05/19/93 10:52 EDT
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Date:May 19, 1993
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