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News Briefs: Meeting to address rising cable prices

The newly formed Spectrum (previously Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications) will be encrypting its signals and all subscribers will soon be required to have converters in order to watch TV.

Public meeting to address rising cable prices

Great Barrington — The Five Town Cable Advisory Committee – which represents the towns of Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Sheffield, and Stockbridge – invites the public to a special meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Great Barrington Fire Station, 37 State Rd., to discuss changes to Spectrum’s local cable television services

Charter Communications made assurances, when they were seeking approval from the Five Towns to assume the existing Cable License agreements with Time Warner Cable, that there would be ‘no changes’ if the deal went through. No objections were raised at that time based on that public assurance, voiced at an open public meeting. But, sadly, they have announced a very significant change,” said Linda Miller, chairman of the Five Town Cable Advisory Committee. The newly formed Spectrum (previously Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications) will be encrypting its signals and all subscribers will soon be required to have converters in order to watch TV. Subscribers who replaced their analog TVs with digital sets in order to watch TV without converters when the FCC shut down analog transmission will no longer be able to do so.

According to Miller, the most significant and deleterious effect will be on those who have what is now referred to by Spectrum as “Starter Cable” (previously called Basic Cable). Spectrum plans on supplying the converters free for two years, after which it will charge $6.99 per month per TV set, requiring subscribers to rent signal converters for all sets. On a single set, that would amount to a 50 percent or more monthly increase in that lowest tier; on two sets: 100 percent; and so on. Spectrum’s cost for each converter is less than $6.99. Miller stated the company will not be offering the converters for sale, nor will there be any compatible converters available in the consumer electronics market due to proprietary decryption software.

The Committee finds the above unacceptable and has organized the meeting as an opportunity for the public to voice opinions on it and other cable matters to Spectrum. For more information, contact Linda Miller at (413) 551-7014 or
LZMiller-5TownCAC@roadrunner.com.

–E.E.

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