Pa. Jails Choose 'Wholesome' TV
Feb. 04, 2000
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ The state's prison inmates will be switching off premium channels like HBO and tuning in to a satellite-television service that emphasizes more wholesome fare.
That means goodbye to ``The Sopranos'' and documentaries on strippers and hello to ``The Waltons'' and the Recovery Network.
``Nobody had the Playboy Channel, but some of the stuff on these premium channels can be pretty suggestive,'' Corrections Secretary Martin F. Horn said Friday.
The new statewide service gives the 14,900 inmates at the state's 24 prisons who subscribe to cable a one-size-fits-all package similar to a typical basic cable setup.
Inmates will pay $15.25 a month for 38 channels, replacing deals negotiated between individual prisons and cable providers.
Prison officials had considered eliminating cable service entirely from the prison system, but decided to make a switch in line with the department's philosophy of ``sobriety, education and work,'' Horn said.
The deal being worked out includes three channels of ESPN sports programming, all the major broadcast networks and cable networks like Discovery Channel and CNN, as well as minority-themed programming.
The Corrections Department also gets two institutional channels over which it plans to beam instructional programming.
Officials plan to have eight of the institutions online by May. Other prisons will be included in the system as current cable contracts expire.
Word of the change has slipped out to inmates mostly by word of mouth, said William DiMascio, executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, an organization that assists prisoners and their families.
As for the loss of premium channels, ``I can't get myself too exercised about that,'' he said.