Charter Slams PEG Channels and Gouges Municipalities

July 18, 2014

Charter Slams PEG Channels and Gouges Municipalities

American Community Television (ACT) and the Southeast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SEATOA) were notified this week that Charter Communications has slammed Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access channels to the 180’s and 190’s in three more states.  PEG managers in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina report their PEG channels have been slammed and the channel placement requires subscribers to rent an additional box in order to receive their local community channels.

In addition, Charter has eliminated Basic Tier service to municipal buildings claiming the municipal building is a commercial service, requiring local governments and schools pay twice the monthly fee (from $30 to $70), in order to be able to receive their own PEG channels.

“This is a direct result of statewide franchising laws that passed in these states,” said Bunnie Riedel, Executive Director of ACT.  “Even so, Charter is the only cable company that is doing this so far.”

Three years ago ACT complained when Charter slammed PEG channels in Missouri and Wisconsin into the 900’s, including cutting off free cable service to first responders in some communities.

“Among the cable operators, Charter has the worst track record when it comes to the public interest,” said Riedel.  “They are openly hostile to PEG access television and municipalities.”

ACT has been speaking with Congressional offices regarding their concern over Charter acquiring Comcast cable systems and the formation of a new Midwest Cable, in partnership with Comcast’s shareholders, in the Midwest.

Historically, local governments would negotiate with the cable operator for free service to municipal buildings, schools, libraries, police and fire department buildings.  The service was considered part of the obligation of cable operators as they built their plant in, and used, the public rights of way.  However, since twenty-two states adopted a statewide franchising regime local governments have lost the power to franchise cable providers.

“At this time, when municipalities are barely making payroll, Charter has decided that it can make a profit on the backs of the taxpayers,” said Doris Boris, Executive Director of SEATOA.

American Community Television educates and advocates on behalf of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television.  To contact Ms. Riedel, call 410-992-4976 or email riedel@acommunitytv.org, to contact Ms. Boris, call 704-541-5787 or email seatoa@carolina.rr.com.

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