Time Warner to move ac­cess chan­nels to dig­i­tal cable

free­ing band­width is aim; city of­fi­cials ex­press­ing con­cern

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Dale Roe droe@states­man.com

Time Warner Cable is mov­ing pub­lic, ed­u­ca­tion and govern­ment ac­cess chan­nels from ana­log to dig­i­tal de­liv­ery statewide on Oct. 1. The change means that Time Warner cus­tomers who don’t sub­scribe to dig­i­tal ser­vices will need dig­i­tal equip­ment to view the chan­nels, which show com­mu­nity-gen­er­ated, gov­ern­men­tal and ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram­ming.

In a June 28 let­ter to the City of Austin an­nounc­ing the change, Su­san Pat­ten, Time Warner’s vice pres­i­dent of govern­ment re­la­tions, said the move was aimed at free­ing up band­width for adding chan­nels and im­prov­ing In­ter­net speed. Pat­ten says ana­log chan­nels use more band­width than dig­i­tal ones.

The chan­nels af­fected are: City of Austin (Chan­nel 6), chan­nelAustin (Chan­nels 10, 11 and 16), Travis County Tele­vi­sion (Chan­nel 17), ACC-TV (Chan­nel 19) and AISD TV (Chan­nel 22). These chan­nels are also avail­able on­line.

On Tues­day, the City of Austin expressed con­cerns.

“We rec­og­nize that cable com­pa­nies will even­tu­ally mi­grate all chan­nels from ana­log to dig­i­tal, but it should be done in a way that doesn’t re­duce ac­cess to our lo­cal PEG (pub­lic, ed­u­ca­tional and govern­ment) chan­nels … which are an im­por­tant part of Austin’s com­mu­nity fab­ric,” wrote Ron­della Hawkins of the City of Austin’s Of­fice of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions & Reg­u­la­tory Af­fairs.

Time Warner said it will in­form sub­scribers through its web­site, news­pa­per ads and notices in bills. It’s up to ac­cess chan­nel pro­duc­ers to add crawl in­for­ma­tion to their pro­gram­ming.

The change was ini­tially slated for Aug. 5. Melissa Sorola, Time Warner’s Texas re­gion com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, said the date switch fol­lowed an as­sess­ment of the com­pany’s sys­tems statewide. Hawkins said that she no­ti­fied Time Warner on Tues­day that she did not think the Aug. 5 date met fed­eral cable reg­u­la­tions about suf­fi­cient, proper cus­tomer no­tice.

Chip Rosen­thal, chair­man of the Austin Com­mu­nity Technology and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, a city ad­vi­sory panel, said that the date change to Oc­to­ber al­le­vi­ated his con­cerns about tim­ing, but that “in the long term, there are still prob­lems.” He said the switch would “im­pact the part of the com­mu­nity that can least af­ford it.”

Sorola de­clined to give spe­cific num­bers, but said that Austin has a “high pen­e­tra­tion” of dig­i­tal sub­scribers.

Time Warner Cable is of­fer­ing fee-free dig­i­tal up­grades. Cus­tomers on the ba­sic ser­vice tier who request a con­verter will not have to pay monthly charges on it through Dec. 31, 2015. Stan­dard-ser­vice cus­tomers (those who sub­scribe to ba­sic ser­vice and ana­log) will not be charged a con­verter rental fee for the first year, af­ter which nor­mal rates will ap­ply. Ad­di­tional con­vert­ers for dig­i­tal cus­tomers will be pro­vided at nor­mal rates. Cus­tomers have up to 60 days af­ter the date of the con­ver­sion to take ad­van­tage of the feefree of­fers.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact the com­pany at 512-4856000.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.