If you've ever doubted for a second that competition is good for consumers, listen to this little cautionary tale, thrust upon us courtesy of everyone's "favorite" cable company-- Comcast.
Dating back to the earliest days of cable TV, Frederick has had a community channel any subscriber could all find on Channel 10. For 25 years, GS Communications followed by Adelphia funded a talented staff who created and produced frequent programming focused on what's going on in Frederick and environs.
With Comcast's takeover in July of 2006 and their predictable cuts in the Frederick Local Origination [LO] department's funding, companies-- like mine, admittedly--took it upon ourselves to begin to produce independent programming to complement the existing LO line-up by leasing time from Comcast, getting cleared by the FCC and drawing on the talents of experienced broadcast professionals to create and produce. This arrangement is known as Leased Access, or LA-- and feedback from the viewership is that Frederick's combination of LO and LA programming was a real plus in the local media landscape.
For reasons known only to them, Comcast has moved our local Channel from 10 to 190. SInce the signal is now digital, you need a digital box to view it on 190. Important to note here: the FCC says a local channel cannot be digitized until a minimum of 50% of the subscribers in the markeplace have a digital box. In recent talks, I've heard that 70% of Frederick cable subscribers have that digital box-- so they can still view the community channel.
What about the other 30%? Well, folks, Comcast says you need their digital box. You can pick one up at the local Comcast office, and pay $3.95/mo for your new digital cable system...or you can have one of their installers come out for $24.95 and install the digital box.
So if you're part of the 30% of cabe subscribers who first had your TV Guide (Ch 22) taken away, and now find yourselves minus your community channel, at least you now know what you need to do to fix it, albeit at cost to you. And really....do we need any more proof: without competition, what is there to keep a company honest and customer service based.
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