MI: Comcast risks its commitment to public access

Posted on January 7, 2008 - 10:59pm.

from: Times Herald

Comcast risks its commitment to public access

The Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce sent the following letter to Brian Roberts, Comcast's president and chief executive officer, in response to the announcement of its plans to eliminate PEG channels on the basic package for Comcast subscribers:

I write to express great concern over a recent decision by Comcast requiring subscribers to install an additional piece of cable equipment in their homes in order to view public, educational, and governmental channels, known as "PEG" channels.

It is my understanding that as of Jan. 15, Comcast will move PEG channels to its digital tier of service in many Michigan communities, including the greater Port Huron area. Comcast's analog subscribers will then need a set-top box to be able to view PEG channels.
Your intent to charge consumers as much as an additional $4.20 a month per television set to receive PEG channels is plainly inconsistent with Congressional intent that PEG channels be made available "at the lowest reasonable rate." I ask that Comcast reconsider this decision.

It is crucial and necessary that Comcast continue to offer PEG channels at a reasonable rate, allowing access to the important programming provided by PEG channels and without treating them differently from local broadcast channels when both are required by statute to be part of Comcast's basic tier of service. Due to restructuring in the manufacturing and automotive industries, Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States, and St. Clair County has one of the highest unemployment rates in Michigan. Additionally, Michigan's and St. Clair County's aging population and high foreclosure rate have caused economic hardship throughout the state for residents, businesses and government.

With an increase in rates and requiring additional equipment to access community information, Comcast will defeat the purpose intended by Congress that PEG channels be made available "at the lowest reasonable rate."

In light of these concerns, on behalf of the 7,000-plus businesses and 164,235 citizens of St. Clair County, I request that Comcast proceed in a manner that is consistent with the Congressional intent and protects the public interest.

Vickie R. Ledsworth is president and chief executive officer of the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce.

( categories: Comcast | MICHIGAN | State Franchises )