TV-Starved City Lines up
for Resumption of Cable Service
Thousands lined up at Comcast Gotham's downtown headquarters in hopes of being among the first city residents to be offered cable television. Gotham has been without a cable provider since the night of the Narrows Attack, when a runaway monorail destroyed the city's previous cable company's headquarters.
Citizens braved the blocks-long line, jostling for position and begging strangers to save their place as they ran off to put money in the parking meters. No sacrifice of time was too much for the waiting hordes, who desperately wanted to return to pre-Attack television watching routines.
"For the first time in my adult life, there really is nothing on TV!" exclaimed Elsa Garfinkle, 28, holding her three-year-old daughter's hand. "And have you ever tried to raise a kid without television? I'm going crazy!" said Garfinkle.
Waiting in line, many talked of the cable-tv blackout as a sorry reminder of the events of the Narrows Attack.
"Every time I forget the cable's out and try to watch stuff like Gotham's Most Wanted, I remember that terrible day and why we have no cable," said Jack Spiroloni, 42. "Maybe when we get cable, it'll feel like we put the Attack behind us."
Comcast Gotham won the contract to rebuild Gotham's cable-tv infrastructure after a public uproar forced City Hall to open bids for the service. The previous cable company was widely reviled for poor service and high prices, and its collapse during the Narrows Attack seemed to be the last straw for many citizens.
The company will be wiring Gotham with the latest in digital technologies, and offering residents hundreds of HD choices, the fastest high speed internet and new home phone service. Comcast Gotham has also launched a new network called Gotham Cable News. GCN's exclusive on local news fills in a media gap that became apparent in the coverage of the Narrows Attack.
With no centralized news service for the city, Gotham citizens were widely seen to have been poorly served by the available media throughout the attack and its aftermath.
Citizens struggled with a whirlwind of rumor, inaccurate reports, and shoddy coverage from local news channels more used to covering zoo openings and sensationalistic murders than an ongoing, full-blown crisis.
"Gotham Cable News will be a godsend for citizens who want objective and thorough reporting of all things local," said longtime media watcher Sari Benyamin, a professor of television and radio at Gotham University.
"It's been a long time since folks here had one place to go for serious news. Now, it looks like GCN will be that place," Benyamin said.
"I wanted to stay in Gotham, the city where I fell in love with the news trade," said Engel. "Gotham Cable News will give me the freedom to do what I love to do most - the kind of old-school, real-world reporting that we don't really see too much of anymore," Engel said.
The signing is a coup for the channel, which was bidding against national broadcast networks for the famous journalist. Engel was signed to a multi-million dollar contract.
Engel achieved star status during his coverage of the Squid Killer, a serial murderer who terrorized Gotham by strangling women with the tentacles of a live octopus.
The Squid Killer made contact with Engel and tipped him off to every murder shortly after it occurred. Engel achieved widespread fame during that time, and soon found himself hosting national news specials.
Recently, Engel has become known for high-profile, high-drama reporting. Last year, he skinny-dipped at the North Pole to dramatize the dangers of global warming.
Engel's special on torture — in which he was water-boarded live on camera to determine the harshness of that practice — won him several prestigious journalism awards.