NEW YORK -- A test of a service that sent movies and other video entertainment into the homes of subscribers by scrambled TV signals for replay later will be discontinued by the American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. June 30.
'An initial surge of interest was not reflected in (subscriber) growth,' ABC spokesman Tony Herrling said Wednesday in explaining why the company decided to end its Chicago test of the TeleFirst Entertainment Recording Service.
Herrling would not say how many subscribers the company managed to sign up.
During the test, which began Jan. 17, movies and other programs were broadcast by ABC's WLS-TV in scrambled form during the early morning hours.
Subscribers recorded the programs on videocassette recorders and then played them back through decoders supplied by TeleFirst. Monthly charges ranged between $17.95 and $25.90, depending on how many movies were taken. Subscribers also were asked to pay one-time installation fees.
Herrling said Chicago area subscribers can keep the decoders to view scrambled programs they have kept in home libraries, or they can return them to the company for a refund.
'The convenience of TeleFirst home delivery does not sufficiently compete against a price structure presently available through home video sources,' Herbert A. Granath, president of ABC Video enterprises, said in a statement.
ABC said it will take a pre-tax charge of $15 million in the second quarter for costs associated with the closing of the TeleFirst operation.