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Charter pulls plug; subscribers not happy

Charter pulls plug; subscribers not happy

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2008 10:55 pm
By: John Brannon Messenger Staff Reporter

 By JOHN BRANNON Messenger Staff Reporter State Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden and Union City Mayor Terry Hailey have taken a lot of heat since Friday morning when Charter Communications pulled the plug on some popular cable TV stations. About 10 a.m. Friday, those TV screens displaying images broadcast by three TV stations went blank. Those stations are: • Channel 5, WTVF, Nashville. CBS. • Channel 4, WMC-TV, Mem-phis. NBC. • Channel 3, WPTY, Memphis. ABC. Herron said he and state Rep.-elect Judy Barker are concerned and working to see what can be done about it. Herron Herron said his phones in Nashville and Dresden began to ring immediately. “I’m not only disappointed, I am most unhappy that Charter did this and apparently without prior notice to subscribers. I am told today that Charter filed some sort of notice with the TRA (Tennessee Regulatory Commission), but I don’t know that for sure.” A spokesman at TRA could not verify the assertion. She said she would research the subject and “get back to you.” “For Charter not to notify people who are paying them for a service is simply wrong,” Herron said. “The people who called me said they weren’t notified. If there was a notice made, it was poorly done.” This area has lost its access to the Memphis and Nashville TV stations and that’s no small thing, Herron added. “For those of us living in West Tennessee, having access to one of the biggest and best TV stations in not only the Nashville area but also the state is important to us. Its coverage includes state government decisions that impact all of us,” he said. “What does this leave us? Look at this way. When two-thirds of the network stations offered (by Charter) are not even in the State of Tennessee, it tells me Charter is not serving well the people of this state. “We are going to talk to Charter representatives. If we’re not successful, we’ll work our way up. I hope that concerned citizens will make their voices heard either by calling Charter or looking at other options.” Hailey “I’ve gotten a lot of calls. People are mad about it,” Hailey said. “But nobody’s madder about it than me, because Channel 5 is my favorite TV station. I’m really upset with them. In fact, I’m dropping my service.” Hailey said he spent 45 minutes Friday evening on a phone call with a Charter Communications official — Nick Pavlis, director of governmental relations. (Phone 865-273-2712; 865-755-9593). Hailey said the way he understands it, the Federal Communications Commission has designated television market areas nationwide. Obion, Lake and Weakley counties are in the Paducah, Ky.-Harrisburg, Ill.-Cape Girardeau, Mo., market. “So the stations they must carry for us are Channel 12, Cape Girardeau, which is CBS; Channel 6, Paducah, NBC; and Channel 3, Harrisburg, ABC (or Channel 7, WBBJ). Those are the stations they must carry,” Hailey said. “It’s the provision of the FCC ‘must-carry’ rule.” What happened is that Charter is trying to “free up” band width for High-Definition television, which requires a lot more band width than regular television signals. They have to have more space to do that., he said. Hailey said his anger was such that he unloaded his feelings during the phone call to Pavlis. “Nick tells me he’s not sure anything can be done about it,” Hailey said. “He said, ‘I’ll call you back Monday.’ I still haven’t heard from him. I told him High-Definition TV would freeze up. It’s called ‘pixilate.’ He said he would look into it. I told him his customer service sucks and it does. Have you ever tried to call them? I told him, ‘These are the things you need to work on.’ “I think just about everybody is mad about this. I don’t know if anything can be done about it, though. But we’re going to see if we can get them to put the channels back on. They don’t have to. Charter is free to address rate structure and programming as long as they carry the ‘must-carry’ that are in their area, and they are doing that.” Tanner, too Hailey said he’s been contacted by Congressman John Tanner about the situation. “He said he would be happy to lend his support to do whatever he can to get the channels back. He said he would talk to the Charter people,” Hailey said. Published in The Messenger 12.15.08

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