Comcast and Charter’s recent announcement of Charter acquisitions of Time Warner franchises has many in the Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television community concerned.
“Charter has shown itself to be hostile to PEG access TV,” said John Rocco, president of American Community Television. “Of all the cable providers, they are the worst at living up to their public interest obligations.”
Citing Charter’s shifting of PEG channels in Missouri and Wisconsin to channels above 900, what ACT calls “digital Siberia,” Rocco expressed concern over Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner franchises in the upper Midwest.
“We believe this deal is ill advised and deserves intense Congressional and FCC scrutiny,” said Rocco. “We’ve heard concern from those communities that are now Time Warner franchise areas and are soon to be bought by Charter.”
In Missouri, Charter moved PEG services to channels in the 960 range, requiring subscribers to rent additional boxes in order to receive their city council meetings or community programming. Charter also pulled cable drops out of police and fire departments in that state, features that were historical conditions of franchises until Missouri passed statewide franchising in 2007. In Los Angeles County, Calif., Charter refuses to deliver the County PEG channels unless the cities in the County pay a transmission fee.
“We’re encouraged by the feedback we are getting from Congressional offices,” said Rocco. “Congressional offices are also expressing concern for this deal. Our hope is that conditions will be placed on Charter that require their adherence to public interest obligations.”