October 24, 2014
While Charter employee, Tom Cohan, admitted to the Board of Selectmen of Northbridge, Massachusetts on October 20th that “most access channels in any town have a group of loyal viewers,” nevertheless, Charter slammed the PEG access television channels from 11, 12 and 13 to 191, 192 and 194 in a direct violation of the franchise agreement.
The franchise agreement from May 2013 clearly states:
“The Licensee shall continue to make available to the Town and/or the Access Designee three (3) full-time Downstream Channels for PEG Access purposes on channels 11, 12, and 13.”
When challenged during the public hearing, Mr. Cohan said “I personally messed up in terms of the license we had with Northbridge,” but insisted that Charter would not move the PEG channels back to their contractual positions.
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen this hubris from cable operators, particularly Charter,” said John Rocco, President of American Community Television (ACT). “Cable operators believe they can violate legal binding contracts with impunity because they know towns like Northbridge don’t have the resources to wage protracted legal battles.”
At one point during the meeting, Mr. Cohan asserted that he didn’t know there was any advantage of being in the “lower numbers.” However, ACT discovered that the access channels had been slammed to make way for QVC, Telemundo and the NFL Network.
“Cable always puts its home shopping channels in the lower digits because they know those positions are important, and here, Charter replaces the PEG channel with NFL Network?” said Rocco. “Charter says they have done this because of the digital upgrade, but we know that Comcast didn’t slam PEG channels in Massachusetts when they transitioned, in fact they have kept them in their home positions during the transition.” During the meeting it was asked whether Northbridge should rescind its vote to allow the transfer from Charter to Comcast.
“They obviously should,” said Rocco. “Being non-compliant with a current franchise is potentially a condition for denying transfer. And certainly, Charter is not in compliance.”
American Community Television educates and advocates for Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television. To contact Mr. Rocco or Bunnie Riedel, Executive Director, please call 410-992-4976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the Northbridge Selectman’s meeting on the channel slamming, go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZdhea-vigI&feature=youtu.be