Berkshire Lawmakers, Residents Upset Over Cable Changes

Jun 7, 2018

A cable company in Berkshire County is pulling another Massachusetts-based TV station off of its systems. And that's upset some residents and lawmakers. 

Charter Spectrum, which serves much of Berkshire County, has removed Boston's WCVB, an ABC affiliate, from its channel offerings. Last year, it pulled Springfield's NBC station, WWLP.

Federal regulators have placed the area in the Albany TV market.

That means most local programming, including news, comes from New York.

State Senator Adam Hinds said that makes it hard for residents to keep up with events in Massachusetts..

"It really does add to this feeling of being disconnected from our own capital," Hinds said."It's a real insult that we know more about the policies and choices in neighboring states than we do in our own capital."

State Representative John Barrett of North Adams said that during his tenure as mayor of the city, there were constant battles with cable operators before Charter Spectrum over the removal of Massachusetts stations.

Credit Jason Trim / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/purpcheese

"We fought them each and every time, but we had the support of two senators at that time, Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry," Barrett said. "We used the influence office and basically said to the company personne, 'Listen, this isn't in the best interest of our people in the Berkshire County area and we hope you'll rethink your position.' Guess what? They rethought their position. That didn't happen this time, and I'm somewhat shocked by it."

Barrett said the Berkshire legislative delegation has been in touch with U.S. Senator Ed Markey's office, and that the message was they'd look into getting the ball rolling towards changing the Berkshires television market.

So far, at least 600 people have signed a petition, backed by state lawmakers, urging Charter Spectrum to return the two stations.

Asked to comment on the concerns from Hinds and others, the company released a one-line statement.: "Berkshire County is part of the Albany TV market and we carry the designated in-market ABC affiliate, WTEN, said Charter Spectrum spokesman Andrew Russell. "Spectrum no longer carries the out-of-market affiliate, WCVB, as of June 5."

According to Hinds' office, Charter Spectrum has about 50,000 customers in Berkshire County.