MI: Comcast Cable changes channels again

Posted on February 18, 2008 - 2:50pm.

From: journal Group

February 14, 2008
Comcast Cable changes channels again

After apologizing for a widely criticized attempt to move PEG (Public Education and Government) channels out of range of most viewers, officials from Comcast Cable tried another approach on Friday.

They told members of the Conference of Western Wayne that they were trying to do them a favor.

The criticized change was to move PEG channels to the 900 range, where they would be seen in digital high definition. Everything would look better, according to Comcast officials, and it preceded a mandated change that would happen in a year or so anyway. Plus, it would allow the company to remain competitive with satellite dish services, which already provide more digital programming than most cable providers.

The problem with it was that it would leave some 400,000 customers unable to view the channels, since most televisions are not capable of accessing the channel—without a digital converter box, anyway. That box, which initially would be provided for free, would ultimately cost customers an additional $4 a month.
Not surprisingly, the members of the Conference of Western Wayne were unconvinced by this new line.

Representatives from other video franchises were on hand, too.
Throughout this public relations debacle, they have taken the right approach. They’ve sat back and watched the reaction to the Comcast move, probably to see if they should give it a shot or not. The answer? Not yet.

Competition will remain an important part of this emerging industry. In theory, that was the goal of the state wide video franchise legislation when it was introduced and approved last year. It just hasn’t worked out to the benefit of residents, yet, and that’s been our concern all along. It was initially thought that it would leave local officials out of the loop when it came to jurisdiction over cable services; it removed their ability to negotiate individually with cable service providers to ensure that residents got some return for the use of public rights of way and so on.

This issue has proved that that isn’t exactly the case, though.

When local elected officials ban together, they can still make some noise and get their way.

That’s a good thing, too. If there is competition between cable service providers, it should be to include everyone, not to exclude some of us.

( categories: Comcast | MICHIGAN | State Franchises )