Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

March 15, 2014

Charter plans public-access channel change

TRAVERSE CITY — Charter Communications’ changeover to an all-digital signal means new channels for cable customers who watch televised Grand Traverse region public meetings and programming.

The cable channel change for public-access and government-access broadcasts takes effect March 25, when Charter drops its analog cable service. UpNorthTV will be on cable channel 189 and GovernmentTV will move to cable channel 191.

Joe VanderMeulen is executive director at Land Information Access Association’s UpNorth Media Center, which operates UpNorthTV and GovernmentTV. He hopes the channels will have a permanent home after the changeover and viewers won’t be confused.

“We can’t do anything about it,” he said. “It’s Charter’s choice and we’re going to make the best of it.”

Charter plans to move public, educational and government channels -- called PEG channels -- in Michigan onto its 180- and 190-block channels. VanderMeulen said Charter promised the digital signal will be better quality, which also means local PEG channels could be offered in high-definition.

“I think it’s a good thing we got a better-quality digital signal and wherever you go in the state there’ll be the same public-access channels,” he said.

Officials in Traverse City and several local townships from which UpNorth Media Center broadcasts government meetings plan to help spread the word about the change. Jack Kelly, Elmwood Township’s supervisor, said the channels offer citizens a chance to keep tabs on their local government and community.

“It’s a lot more opportunities to let people know what’s going on in their community,” he said.

In 2009, Traverse City officials sued Charter over another public access channel changeover. They eventually reached a settlement in which Charter officials agreed to fix interference issues analog customers experienced with the new channels.

VanderMeulen doesn’t believe any local government officials plan another lawsuit.

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