Comcast planned channel changes delayed

Court orders have delayed Comcast’s plans to relocate public, educational and government (PEG) access channels to the 900 digital range.

Hearings have been scheduled to hear arguments that Comcast planned the change without consulting with the communities it serves, in violation of state and federal law. One lawsuit contends that communities would lose a vital way of communicating with residents.

The City of Taylor’s government channel, located on Channel 12 on the Comcast system, would be moved to Channel 915 under the Comcast plan. The city utilizes the channel to air City Council meetings, information about events and emergency notifications.

Comcast’s public channel, currently 20, and the Taylor schools’ channel, 22, also would be relocated to the 900s.

The move was originally scheduled to take place January 15. Currently Comcast is showing the channels on both their current and proposed locations.

If the channels are moved to the 900-tier, Comcast would require subscribers with analog televisions to buy digital, cable-ready TVs or rent or buy a digital converter box for each set in order to receive the signal. Comcast has offered to provide residential customers with a free converter box for one year.

Comcast wants to move the PEG channels up to free up bandwidth in order to offer other services, including high definition stations, to customers paying premium rates.

The City of Taylor is among the communities voicing objection to Comcast’s plans. On January 16, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution objecting to the decisions as well as Comcast’s recent closing of its local access studio for the Downriver area in Woodhaven. Taylor utilized the studio to tape the monthly “Taylor Today” show which aired on Comcast Channel 20 each Tuesday night. Without the studio, the city does not have the capability or facilities at present time to record the show.

Officials from Wide Open West (WOW) announced they have no plans to relocate the current PEG channels provided to local units of government and education at this time. The City of Taylor government access channel on the WOW system is found on Channel 10.