Comcast, the sole cable TV provider in Lowell, recently announced that it would move the city’s government access programming from channel 10 to channel 99 and replace it on channel 10 with the NBC Shopping Network. The Board of Directors of Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, the city’s public access, education, and government TV station, opposes this move. At last night’s city council meeting, LTC Executive Director Jessica Wilson and I (as a representative of the board) spoke on a motion filed by Council Bill Martin (also a member of the LTC board) which requested a report on the planned move. After discussing the issue, the council amended the motion to include sending a resolution by the council in opposition to the move to Comcast.
Here are the remarks I made to the council:
I am here on behalf of the board of directors of Lowell Telecommunications Corporation to express our surprise and disappointment with the decision by Comcast to move our government access station from channel 10 to channel 99 and to put in its place the NBC shopping network which of course is owned by Comcast, all effective on March 20, 2012.
The LTC board is sending a letter to Comcast protesting this decision and the abrupt way it is being executed. Jessica Wilson, the LTC Executive Director who is also registered to speak tonight will provide an estimate of the expense in both money and effort to which LTC will be put on account of this channel change.
But this is not just about LTC. It’s also about our viewers. While all of our shows are valuable, government programming is the content on LTC that is watched by the largest number of our viewers. TV watching habits may be changing, but many people still gravitate to the lower numbered channels making the content on them more likely to be seen. Moving government access from 10 to 99 will make it more difficult for the citizens of Lowell to keep track of what’s going on in local government. Just because Comcast may have the power to make this swap doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. We ask the council to consider joining in LTC’s protest to Comcast.
In closing, no matter what happens to channel 10, the LTC Board wishes to assure the council and the citizens of Lowell that we will continue to provide convenient and uninterrupted access to all existing local government programming.
As I said, this channel switch is scheduled to occur on March 20, 2012. Between now and then, I’m sure much more will be said on this issue, so watch for related posts to come.