www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

For Charter Communications NW CT Area 19

PO BOX 87, Newtown CT 06470

Email Chairman@CableAdvisoryCouncil.com

 

11 November 2014  Cable Advisory Council Chairman’s Letter

 

To Customers of Charter Cable TV Services in Connecticut frustrated with Charter Cable’s  “ALL DIGITAL” transition, please be advised:

 

The Cable Advisory Council meets bi-monthly, on the 2nd Tuesday at 7pm.  These meetings are open to the public, and you are encouraged to attend. 

Please visit www.CableAdvisoryCouncil.com for information about Advisory Council activities relating to Cable Services. 

 

What are the alternatives to Cable TV Service from Charter?

 

1.  ATT U-Verse, if it is available to you, also requires a decoder box – one per TV set. Strangely enough, the AT&T pricing structure is nearly identical to Charter Cable.

 

2.  Direct and Dish Satellite TV also require a decoder boxes. Again, One box per TV, but Community and Educational Access channels disappear.

 

3.  How about the Way-Back Time machine option:  Install an Outside Over the Air TV Antenna On the Roof, and install a distribution amplifier to feed your wired network of TV's...  Community & Educational Access channels disappear.  You would need to replace any analog TV with a new digital TV, or purchase a digital decoder box for each legacy analog TV set.

 

4.  Subscribing to High Speed internet service only.  It is so very useful and becoming essential to the 21st Century American way of life.  Give up scheduled live TV broadcst for now, but you can explore the world of video programs sent Over-The-Top on the internet.

 

Legal options are limited. 

 

Our Federal Government ordered the transition to “All Digital” television broadcasting by law.

 

The regulated franchise system for cable companies has been retired in CT, because the state now meets the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of “Effective Competition” in the Multiple Video Program Distributor (MVPD) business.  The CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) no longer has the authority to regulate rates, technology, or content due to the adoption of “An Act Concerning Certified Competitive Video Service” (CT Public Act 07-253) in 2007.  We can thank AT&T for this legislation.

 

If the Citizens of Connecticut desire to change State laws governing the Multiple Video Program Distribution (MVPD) business, it must do so in a way that remains in compliance with Federal Laws and Regulations.  The wiring build-out of cable TV services to the State has been accomplished per federal guidelines, and is therefore – off the table.  The State of Connecticut would need to enact laws to re-engage limited monopoly franchise regulation of service providers for the purpose of achieving a new public interest goal, such as LOW COST - HIGH SPEED INTERNET for all CT citizens, as an example.

 

 

Charter Communications could be the good guys here. 

 

They are perhaps the last of the big cable companies to make this all-digital change, necessary to compete with their peer group of companies for shareholders.   It is a complex technical undertaking.  Charter is doing it as best they can, one state, one region, and one area at a time.  Technical and logistical glitches will be solved.  Higher costs due to the required box-per-set rental will be part of the package, moving forward. These are not in-expensive devices.

 

What is really going on here:  A historical perspective from the Chairman:

 

Social adoption of over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting has been phenomenal since the introduction of color TV in the 1960’s.  A homeowner could simply put up one antenna, and by installing inexpensive amplifiers and cable wires, connect a TV in every room of the house to receive all the available channels.  TV everywhere - in every room, on every screen, is now in our social fabric.

 

Antenna and cable entrepreneurs capitalized on this social phenomenon in the 1970’s. Cable TV expanded the channel offerings many times over, with better pictures and reliability – for a low monthly price.  The cable company bargain also expanded the customer base for Over-The Air (OTA) broadcasters who also benefited from “Must Carry” regulations.  The dramatic cost increases in Cable TV service since 1990 have resulted in a massive social focus on the value of bundled vs. a-la-carte’ Cable TV programming.

 

The transition to  “All Digital” television broadcasting was brought to us by our Federal Government.  The roots and motivations for this legislation were the US Broadcasters, and US Television Set Manufacturers who feared growing Asian competition (These proposals go back to the mid 1970’s). The OTA broadcasters supported legislation for ALL-Digital TV broadcasting that allowed higher definition pictures and sound, and capability for transmitting multiple digital sub-channels (multi-casting).  This was the “really-big” motivator for broadcasters planning to create multiple advertising revenue streams within their FCC licensed OTA bandwidth.

 

All digital Over-The-Air (OTA) broadcasting finally passed by act of US Congress in the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 . It was implemented with federally subsidized coupons for “Free” digital converter boxes in June 2009.  Cable TV Companies were required by the FCC to maintain  “analog TV services” for an additional 2 years during the “acceptance” period of all-digital OTA broadcasting (then less than 20% of the viewing public).  After June 2011, cable companies were free to implement all-digital signal delivery with encryption.

 

Where is FCC oversight in the public interest? 

 

It is hard to find when the FCC and Cable Industry executives are the same people.

Prior to becoming chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler worked as a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry.

 

The ALL-DIGITAL transition is just a small part of the SEA CHANGE in US Culture now that corporations have the same rights as mortal humans; yet are inanimate & perennial legal constructs with a singular focus to generate profits for  1. The Management, and  2. The Shareholders.  Unregulated monopolies are a most efficient model for maximizing profits.  Influencing legislation to support this mission is just another cost of doing big business.  Scrambling and encryption are deployed purely for the profit motive, and to protect the profit making potential of copyrighted & intellectual properties.

 

Respectfully,

Gregory G. Davis, KB1YHW

Chairman, Cable Advisory Council