Restore Local Programming to Basic Cable Service in Tompkins County NY
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We, the undersigned, are residents of Tompkins County, New York, who subscribe to cable service provided by Spectrum. Spectrum became our cable provider as a result of Charter Communications’ acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and holds a virtual monopoly over cable services in Tompkins County.
Over the past few months, Spectrum has removed 6 stations from its 22-station basic cable lineup, and two Fox Network affiliate stations have become “inactive” because of stalled contract negotiations. This is a 36% reduction in service. At the same time, Spectrum has increased the monthly charge for cable and Internet service by over 10%.
Two of the stations that Spectrum removed from basic cable are WENY, an ABC network affiliate (from Elmira, NY), and WSKG, a public broadcasting station (originating in Binghamton, NY). Spectrum maintains that it is not required to carry either of these stations, because it carries an ABC affiliate and a public broadcasting station originating in Syracuse, NY. However, the Syracuse-based stations in question do not carry local news, sports, or public service content relating to Tompkins County; that programming was offered only by WENY and WSKG. The loss of WENY and WSKG programming deprives us of news/sports coverage and local-interest subjects specific to the needs of Tompkins County residents.
It should also be noted that WSKG does not charge Spectrum for its programing, and hundreds of Tompkins County residents are contributing members of WSKG.
Spectrum has been unresponsive to individual complaints by residents. In fact, their “system” for residents to complain is extremely frustrating and opaque. Spectrum says it cannot restore our Fox affiliate(s) until its contract negotiations are completed. Spectrum does not offer partial refunds of our cable fees for the duration of those negotiations.
The City of Ithaca Common Council and the Tompkins County Legislature have passed resolutions and reached out to Spectrum, requesting the return of WENY and WSKG to basic cable. Spectrum says it will not reverse its “business decision” to eliminate WENY and WSKG from its lineup.
We therefore ask you, our State and Federal elected officials and agencies who have regulatory authority over Spectrum’s business operations, to intervene on our behalf to:
1. require that Spectrum restore the level of basic cable programming needed to provide us with the news and other programming we need in Tompkins County; and
2. require that Spectrum reimburse customers for its 36% reduction in service during this period.
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