September 30, 2014
Charter’s Malevolence Toward Local Communities Continues to Grow
Citing multiple examples, American Community Television today called out Charter as the worst cable operator in the country when it comes to treatment of local communities and Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television.
“It’s a dubious honor, being the worst cable operator in America,” said Bunnie Riedel, “but one Charter has worked overtime to obtain.”
Riedel points to the slamming of PEG channels as one example. In Missouri and Wisconsin, Charter has slammed PEG channels into the 900’s and in Massachusetts and North Carolina, they have slammed them to the 190’s.
“There is no technical reason for Charter to do this and we see them replacing the Basic tier PEG channels with home shopping. Basic tier customers have to rent additional equipment to get to the PEG channels. It’s horrific because most often Basic tier customers are the elderly and the poor, they are hit hard with a 30% increase in their bills because the box costs $8-$10 a month to rent,” said Riedel. “Basic tier customers can get QVC but not their church services or city council meetings?”
In another situation in Missoula, Montana, Charter has informed the school district they will have to rent boxes for every television in their classrooms. That cost is estimated to run $60,000 to $80,000 per year for the school district.
“In this situation, Charter once again shows itself to be a bad actor in the community. They could have provided free DTA’s to the school district, just like Comcast did for customers in Maryland, but instead, Charter chooses to skim school district funds,” said Riedel.
The situation in Missoula reminds ACT of Charter’s removal of cable drops to police and fire departments in Missouri in 2011. ACT has since learned that Charter is currently cutting off cable service to first responders in Minnesota.
“I looked at the minutes of one volunteer fire department in a very small town, their total yearly budget is $70,000, and now they have to pay Charter for cable service. You would think Charter might want to contribute to the efforts of the local volunteer fire department by continuing to provide free cable, if only as a good will gesture. But no, that $100 per month is sorely needed by the multibillion dollar corporation,” said Riedel.
Not stopping there, Charter also charges local communities to transmit PEG channels they should be receiving. “We’ve heard amounts as high as $4,000 per month, just to flip the switch and send the signal. I personally think if we could get a community to take them to court they would win. How can you have federal or state law that provides for PEG channels but then not transmit the channels unless the municipality pays the ransom?” asked Riedel.
ACT maintains that Charter’s lack of civic responsibility and malevolence toward local communities should prevent the transfer of properties between Comcast and Charter, and the further expansion through GreatLand Communications.
Charter will own a significant portion of the upper Midwest once all the transfers are approved.
“People in those upper Midwest states should be very nervous that Charter will be their new provider,” said Riedel. “Along with everything else, Charter ranks dead last in customer service.”
“We believe strong conditions should be placed on Charter in the FCC’s ongoing transfer proceedings. Charter doesn’t believe there should be any conditions. It’s time for communities to stand up for themselves and push back on this bully,” said Riedel.
American Community Television educates and advocates on behalf of Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access channels. Ms. Riedel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-992-4976.