The number of French households subscribing to cable finally has hit 500,000, and industry insiders predict that number will double in the next year.

According to figures from the government’s Cable Agency, some 514,000 homes are receiving cable, twice as many as at the end of 1989.

France launched an ambitious Cable Plan in 1982 and predicted that 5 million homes would be passed by cable within five or six years. Nine years later, just 2.8 million homes have been passed.

One possible contributor to the slowdown is that, under the original terms of the Cable Plan, state-owned telecommunications giant France Telecom installed the cable, but not always where operators said they had the best chance of marketing it.

There is still a long way to go before the cable operators achieve their hoped-for cable penetration of 35% of all tv households. Currently, 1.8% of all Gallic homes subscribe to cable. Operators probably will have to wait until 2004 to reach the 35% goal, presuming they manage to double monthly subscriptions from today’s rate of 20,000.

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