By Frank Lewis
September 8, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
In a letter to Portsmouth City Clerk Diana Ratliff, Time Warner Cable says they will take a step toward adding additional programming and improving internet speeds by reclaiming bandwidth through providing existing programming in digital format only.
“In order to continue offering customers the advanced services they expect, we must continue our efforts to manage bandwidth utilization more efficiently,” The letter stated. “Since analog channels require up to 14 times more bandwidth than channels in digital format, we began the process several years ago of converting analog channels to digital-only format.”
Time Warner Cable said, as a part of the ongoing initiative, on or about Oct. 2, they will convert additional analog channels to digital format, including WSFJ, WLPX, C-Span, WGN, LMN, Golf, Speed, Weather, as well as Public, Education, and Government (“PEG”) Access channels, which will now be carried in digital format on the Basic Service Tier (“BST”). They said all channels are not carried in all areas and the changes do not impact any PBS station.
On the Oct. 2 date, the channels listed will no longer be transmitted in analog format.
“We intend, however, to ‘channel map’ these channels so that they will remain visible on their pre-existing channel numbers when accessed through a TWC-supplied digital set top box, a Digital Adapter (“DA”) or a CableCARD equipped Unidirectional Digital Cable Product (“UDCP”),” the letter said. “A majority of our customers have already participated in previous digital conversions. Those remaining customers not subscribing to digital services will need digital equipment - for example, a television equipped with a QAM tuner, a DA, or a CableCARD-equipped UDCP - to view these channels.”
The company said for the limited customers who do not already have digital equipment, they will, upon request, offer DA(s) and remote control(s) in order that those customers may continue to have access to the PEG channels. They said customers should contact TWC at 1-800-617-4311 or online at twc.com/digitaladapter by Dec. 2, 2013 to obtain DA(s) and remote control(s) at no cost until Dec. 31, 2014. Time Warner said, beginning Jan. 1, 2015, each adapter will cost 99 cents per month.
“Just as is the case today, no customer will be required to subscribe to a tier higher than the BST in order to continue to view the PEG channels,” the correspondence said. “I would ask that you or your designee contact me as soon as possible so that we can identify any equipment needs you may have in order to ensure a smooth transition for your account.”
Rick Carfagna, Government Relations Manager for Time Warner Cable Mid-Ohio said the company will provide customers with at least 30 days advance written notice to make the change as seamless as possible.
“We would also like to enlist the help of the community’s local access channel(s) to provide information to customers on this transition,” Carfagna said. “As noted, TWC will ‘channel map’ the PEG channels so that they will continue to be found on existing channel numbers when a TWC-supplied digital set top box, a DA or CableCARD-equipped UDCP is used.”
The Daily Times asked First Ward Councilman Kevin Johnson what the city’s involvement is in regards to rates from cable providers.
“Most do not remember that back in 2007, the State took away the right of municipalities to negotiate and manage contracts with cable companies; consolidating them, instead, under the Ohio Department of Commerce. The only thing Portsmouth, as a municipality, has to do with any contract with Time Warner (or any other cable company) is to receive a franchise check - approximately $240,000 per year. The Ohio Department of Commerce would have to approve rate changes,” Johnson said.
On June 25, 2007 when then-Governor Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 117, which created a new, state-issued video-authorization process to replace the local cable television franchise process. The law gave the Ohio Department of Commerce jurisdiction over cable television providers who are granted state-issued video authorization, but not over satellite television providers.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.