Residents of Ruffin and other parts of eastern Rockingham County may soon be watching Dustin Hoffman and rapping alongside M.C. Hammer right in their living rooms.
Commissioners this week paved the way for cable television to move into rural areas of the county by granting a cable franchise to Tenncom of Massachusetts. The franchise gives the company authority to construct, own and operate a community antennae television system in the county. Tenncom now has operations in Caswell County, just east of Rockingham.Commissioners in February gave the franchise rights to Star Cable Associates, a Pennsylvania company, which has since decided against constructing the system in Rockingham County.
County Attorney Eugene Russell said many cable companies had been scared away from expanding service, due to pending federal legislation that would tighten regulations for the cable industry.
``That kind of put a damper on the cable industry,' he said. ``People are a little hesitant to invest.'
In addition, he said it was difficult to attract cable companies to sparsely populated rural areas, because of the great expense it would be for the company to run lines that would reach only a few houses.
Russell said he was encouraged by Tenncom's interest in expanding into the rural Ruffin area of the county.
``It looks like these people are anxious to get it done,' Russell said. ``They seemed to be interested in extending lines to areas traditionally thought to be more sparsely settled.'
``Ten years ago people thought cable would never be anywhere but in the cities and towns,' he said. ``We're always hopeful when these companies come in that they'll be more aggressive and go out and spread the lines so these people who want cable can get it.'
It is not known when cable television will be available to county residents in the area. Cable officials could not be reached for comment.