MI: Area Producers Call for Action Against Comcast in Flint, Michigan

Posted on January 16, 2008 - 11:03am.

from: Flint Talk

Area Producers Call for Action Against Comcast in Flint, Michigan

Sign the Petition at: Flint Talk

From Flint Talk, January 10, 2008

In light of Comcast CEO Robert L. Cohen’s refusal to consider Detroit-area Congressman John Dingell’s request to stop Comcast’s plan to move Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) channels to 900’s, Flint-area public access producers are organizing a boycott of Comcast beginning January 14th.

Paul Herring of “Save Access Flint” understands fully how the cable giant’s recent decisions, including their handling of the digital conversion, is impacting the community. Herring said, “We don’t want to stop the digital transition — we want to help it be a smooth ride. We could be working together on this. However, given their recent actions, Comcast doesn’t appear to have any intent of working with the communities they dominate.”

Since December, Comcast has announced a series of devastating decisions. They include:
1. Firing longtime Public Access staffers across the state.
2. Closing all Public Access studios.
3. Terminating all equipment libraries.
4. Terminating community training in video production and editing.
5. Eliminating community calendars.
6. Moving playback facilities for all community public access stations to Southfield.
7. Removing programming listings in TV and program guides.
8. Raising cable rates by 13.5% .

“It’s not rocket science,” said Flint public access producer Ted Jankowski. “They see a way to make more money. By doing this they can charge people more for a service that is already provided. It’s logical that PEG programing should be available at the lowest-priced level. Our legislators should be ashamed of themselves. All but six voted in support of legislation.

“It’s further proof that Comcast, our state government, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), have all abandoned the basic ideal of localism in broadcasting,” said Robert Mabbitt, a Flint area media activist. “Now that the State of Michigan has superseded municipalities’ right to negotiate for local people, local people who rely on public access for locally produced programs addressing the local issues that local network affiliates will not touch, are left with nothing.”

Many citizens have said this is the last straw. Janice Muhammad of Flint said, “It’s too dab gum hard to figure all this stuff out. I need a box? But I can’t get a box? There are free boxes! But they’re not available yet? My rates are up and I am still going to have to pay more to watch even the basic stuff. Phew! I am done. They can have it.” Even award-winning comedian Mark Bonto, who hosts his public access comedy show, is fed up.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” he said, “The fees keep going up. The service is bad. They took the equipment and facilities away from us. They put us on a higher-tiered channel. Not only that, but the Playboy channel doesn’t come in good enough!”

Herring and other public access supporters are not backing down. They are encouraging others to join them in voicing their displeasure with Comcast. “We want people to boycott Comcast services. Phone, internet, and TV. We may even go as far as boycotting advertisers. If you can’t boycott, protest by paying your cable bill with $1 dollar bills or coins, request a service call when you’re not home, request phone service then change your mind, flood their switchboard with complaints. Bottom line, cost them money �” it’s the only thing they respond to. We want Comcast to have to win us back by restoring Public Access, and by putting the customer back into ‘customer service’ by doing the right thing!”

The Boycott is to begin January 14th, the day before PEG channels move to the digital service. It is also the day that citizens will have to go to Comcast’s building on Torrey Road to pick up their “free” digital converter. Herring said, “It is horrible that Comcast would choose Martin Luther King’s birthday to silence community voices. As we celebrate a man that stood for so many freedoms, it seems we can choose to lie down and take a symbolic hosing from Comcast or boycott.” It’s not complex! It’s Comcast!

“The producers and activists are also encouraging the public to take action on Super Bowl Sunday by watching the game through a provider other than Comcast. The group will be distributing literature at area night clubs, sports bars and restaurants on game day, February 3rd, the largest television adverting celebration of the year, to build awareness of the fate of public access and the boycott of Comcast Cable. “

For more information on the boycott contact:
Paul H. Herring
The Producers Association

and visit www.saveaccessflint.org , www.comcastmustdie.com and www.saveaccess.org

( categories: Comcast | MICHIGAN | State Franchises )