A New Spin On The Tv Dial

Get ready for a 540-channel cable TV system. On Dec. 2, Tele-Communications Inc. announced that it would buy equipment from AT&T, General Instrument, and other companies that will digitally squeeze about 15 movie channels, or about 5 live-action channels, or one high-definition TV channel into the space that's now occupied by one regular channel.

TCI, the biggest U.S. cable operator, says next summer it will begin offering compressed channels to subscribers who have satellite dishes. The system will be available to cable subscribers around January, 1994. Other operators are expected to buy the digital compression equipment as well. Of course, that still leaves the problem of what to watch.

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