Several weeks ago, Charter Communications/Spectrum which provides cable television and internet services to some 98% of the town and cities in the State of Maine sent a letter to several municipalities they serve announcing changes to the long-standing channel allocation for PEG (Public, Educational, and Governmental) local access stations:
October 13, 2017
Dear Municipal Official:
Spectrum is committed to providing our customers with the very best products, at the very best value. We have enhanced our fiber-rich network to enable us to offer the highest level of performance and innovation, which will allow our customers to enjoy over 110 HD channels.
Spectrum is also taking steps to further secure its network in the coming weeks. In our continued effort to keep you informed, we would like you to understand how these changes may impact your constituents.
On November 28, 2017, Spectrum will begin encrypting the channels on the Basic/Starter service tiers In your community. This will allow Spectrum to better maintain the integrity of its network and offer more enhanced features.
As a result, customers will be required to have a Spectrum Receiver on each TV in their home by November 28, 2017. Customers are eligible to receive equipment at no additional charge for a limited period of time, depending on their level of service.
If customers have an existing set-top-box, digital transport adapter (DTA), or retail device with a CabIeCARD on each TV, they should be unaffected by this charge. Please note that if customers have TV(s) without equipment issued by Spectrum, they will lose the ability to view channels. In order to get a Spectrum Receiver, customers can call 1-884-830-4787 to order a self-installation kit. We'll ship the kit directly to their home at no additional cost.
400 Old County Road
Rockland, ME 04841
In addition to raising concerns that cable television costs would be increasing due to the need for all viewers to have a set-top box or DTA for each television (even "smart-tvs" which could previously receive the lower channels and basic tier programming without add-on equipment) of even greater concern to municipalities and PEG stations was the attachment at the end of the letter. This was a chart showing (among other channel changes) that the local access channels (typically located on single digit channels would be moving to 1301, 1302, and 1303 respectively. No mention was made of other common access channel designations such as 120-1, 120-2 etc where many PEG channels were moved when Time Warner went digital several years ago. It is assumed that those would also move to the 1300 block.
In response, the Town of Bristol, Maine sent a reply which is published here with their permission:
Municipal Office, Town of Bristol, Maine
P. 0. Box 339 Bristol, Maine 04539
Director, Government Affairs New England Charter Communications
400 Old County Road
Rockland, ME 04841
October 24, 2017
Dear Ms. Winchenbach,
Thank you for your letter to Municipal Officials of October 13th, outlining the changes to Charter Communications' cable television service in this community.
As a Town that relies heavily on Public Access Channel 7 to reach out to our citizens, and in particular to the elderly and housebound, we the Selectmen of Bristol wish to protest in the strongest possible terms to the change of Channel 7 to Channel 1301. This high number makes it effectively impossible to find the station by running through channels. Keeping the channel in the vicinity of our local broadcast channels allows easy access for all viewers.
We understand that you may consider channel numbering to be a technical matter between you and Channel 7, but we feel that this is a betrayal of the principles behind our new franchise award to Charter Communications for service to the Town of Bristol. We believe that such action would have been unthinkable by the former Time Warner cable prior to its acquisition by Charter and that it reflects poorly on your management's stewardship of the public monopoly you have been granted. We urge you to reconsider this decision.
Harry Lowd III
If your municipality or PEG station would like to join the protest, please contact the Community Television Association of Maine at firstname.lastname@example.org.