Charter customers irked over lost channels
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Mar 28, 2013 | 1069 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Charter Communications customers have noticed recently they are receiving fewer channels for the same price as before as the service provider transitions more channels to digital.

Nick Pavlis, Charter Communications director of Government Relations, said Wednesday by telephone that basic cable subscribers are eligible for two signal converter boxes at no cost for a period of two years. Expanded basic subscribers are eligible for two converter boxes for one year and digital subscribers can have one free converter box for one year.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said Monday the majority of complaints were from basic cable subscribers who received only 19 channels and suddenly lost five of them. He said the customers claimed they were not notified they would lose the channels.

“I’m a Charter subscriber and I wasn’t notified either,” he said Monday during the recent city Council meeting. “We’re happy with the service we receive from Charter and have been over the years, but we’ve just received questions from folks who have lost channels.”

Charter Director of Operations Tony Falin told the mayor and Council members that two separate explanations should have gone out to all cable customers in the form of a letter and as a statement included in monthly billing. He said both methods are marginally effective, but are still better than other forms of communication.

Hotelier and Councilman Dale Hughes said the Holiday Inn Express lost 40-plus channels.

“Nothing was said about us losing those channels,” he said. “We’re paying the same amount and all of a sudden — they’re gone. I’m glad you’re here and I would like for you to check it out for me.”

During the course of the discussion, Falin explained that Charter receives its signals in digital format. The signal is converted to analog, which is a worse signal.

“These old analog channels are extremely bandwidth-intensive. One single channel that is on the analog platform today is equal to about 10 to 12 digital channels,” he said.

Migrating from analog to digital allows for more high-definition content, more video on demand and Internet bandwidth, which are the products driving growth.

“Analog is a dying technology and eventually, it just won’t be there anymore,” he said.

Falin said the purpose of the free boxes is to provide better service for the same price.

“It was not to just take channels away or to cut cost on the programming side, because we still pay the same for it.”

He said the purpose of offering the free boxes is to offer customers a better product. “The customers who are getting the free boxes are now seeing the channels in a much higher quality.”

Rowland said he thinks digital TV is great because it is a much better picture, but the elderly lady who called him did not understand the difference. She just knew she lost television channels and is still paying the same amount of money as before.