MI: Comcast channel changes opposed

Posted on January 12, 2008 - 9:41am.

from: Detroit Free Press

Comcast channel changes opposed
Bill in the works would force return to original format

January 11, 2008



Michigan lawmakers are crafting a bill to reverse Comcast's plan to exile public access programming from the low-numbered stations to digital-only channels positioned in the 900s.

State Reps. Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights, and Steve Bieda, D-Warren, are drafting the bill, which is to go before the Legislature next week. Although it won't be introduced until after the cable provider's Tuesday switch, if approved, the bill would require Comcast to revert to the original format.

In order to pass, it must get 56 House and 20 Senate votes.

Meanwhile, Bieda brought forth a nonbinding resolution Wednesday to the House, vocalizing his opposition to Comcast's plan.

The Macomb County politicians joined the fight against Comcast after hearing complaints from local leaders and constituents in their districts. They say Comcast's requirement that 1.3 million Michigan subscribers go digital is a major inconvenience and is possibly violating a federal law that ensures government channels are in basic cable packages.

Comcast maintains that standardizing the public access program numbers statewide will make viewing easier for residents. It is not disclosing what will replace the programs on the low-end of the dial.

The Michigan chapter of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, however, projects viewership to plummet by 50% to 70% after the change takes effect.

That is one of the biggest fears for community officials and public access supporters.

"Local government access channels are one of the most direct links that people have to their governments," Rocca said.

Contact CHRISTY OYAMA-ARBOSCELLO at 586-469-8085 or arboscello@freepress.com.

( categories: Comcast | MICHIGAN | State Franchises )