Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Analog customers losing out in a digital world

At what point does anger turn into frustration?

I’m beginning to find that out as I learn more and more about the cavalier manner in which Time Warner
 Cable is treating some of its customers.

The customers who have digital reception on their TV sets won’t know what I’m talking about. But those who are trapped in analog reception, ah, those are the folks who are being left behind.

Let me explain, or at least try to explain.

If your TV has a converter, you are receiving all the channels you thought you would be getting when you signed up for the service. But if you don’t have a converter, well, you are getting the short end of the stick.

We have one large set in the living room that is equipped to receive everything. But there are smaller sets around the house – in the dining room and bedrooms, for example – that are able to receive only those channels that TWC wants them to receive.

And TWC has blanked out a lot of channels – an awful lot.

I first noticed the phenomenon a couple of weeks ago when I tried to get the Golf Channel in the dining room. Nothing.

But I then noticed that more and more channels had become blank or carried a message saying you could sign up “to get your channel back” with a higher-priced service.

Don’t ask me to explain the difference between digital and analog.

I am not an engineer, I am a typist. But I do know that digital is better.

I noticed something else that bothered me from a personal standpoint. It has to with political interviews I will be doing in the TV studio at Lakeland Community College in the fall with one of The News-Herald editors as my co-host.

We have been doing these interviews in sort of a “Meet the Press” format since 1982. They are not broadcast live. They are taped for later showing on the Lakeland Cable Channel. The tapes are also copied and sent to smaller cable companies in the Northeast Ohio area which may wish to share them with their viewers.

Where I live, in Willoughby, the Lakeland channel is 95. Except it is blank now – unless you watch it in the living room, which has digital reception.

I have been in the habit for years of checking Channel 95 on the dining room TV just to see what was showing. Sometimes it has been an old movie, sometimes a debate on ethics staged by some Washington heavyweights, and quite often it was one of the hour-long interviews I conducted with a cross-section of the area’s leading business men and women.

I would turn on the TV and there I would be, with Tony Ocepek, or Jimmy Zampini, or Bill Sanford, or the Dick Muny family, or any of 15 similar interviews I did over the years.

Not any longer. Oh, I could go into the living room to check out the channel, but usually I don’t bother.

So in the dining room I have no Golf Channel and no Lakeland Channel.

I talked with Phil Boyle at the Lakeland Channel because we are going to be spending a lot of time and effort recording political interviews in late August, and the only folks able to watch them will be customers with digital service.

If you are an analog person, that’s your tough luck.

Phil noted that he and his colleagues have been in contact with TWC but so far have received no encouragement about change.

He showed me a letter from TWC listing the channels it has reduced to digital only in just the Mentor area.

They include 12, 20, 21, 22, 95 and 96. They are all government access, community service-type channels.

Others that are gone, unless you have digital service, include 15 (WGN Chicago), 16 (CSPAN) and others too numerous to mention.

TWC said in its letter you can get a free digital adapter through September 2015, and after that you can order all you need for $1.50 per month.

But I would think that, in the interest of a citizenry wanting to see interviews with candidates for political office, TWC would want to place a priority on that type of programming so analog customers will not be deprived of it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home