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Don't shortchange our public access

April 15, 2008

Why is it that public affairs and public access channels get such short shrift and lack of attention from cable companies and Internet Protocol-based television purveyors?

It was only a few years ago that cable providers in this region made unfathomable attempts to cut back on local public access channels.

Now, the Connecticut Television Network, devoted to coverage of state government issues, fears it might receive second-class treatment as AT&T rolls out its newly authorized U-verse service in many communities across Connecticut.

CT-N officials are fighting back — and rightfully so.

Connecticut residents who avail themselves to AT&T’s new service, where it is available, should be able to get the same high quality viewing that they would if they continued to subscribe to a cable provider.

Officials at CT-N say AT&T may assign them to a substandard channel in their system that will be difficult for viewers to locate and won’t provide that high quality viewing.

CT-N officials have been viewing what U-verse offers through public access in other regions and maintain it’s not a pretty sight. In fact, CT-N officials set up a comparative U-verse/cable viewing of a public access channel in Michigan ( and there was a noticeable difference in quality.

That mustn’t happen here and AT&T must be held to the promises they made when they sought approval last year for their new video services and access to the Connecticut market. They won a franchise that doesn’t have all the regulatory restrictions cable franchises do. The Connecticut Network is supported through taxpayer funds and provides a valuable public service for citizens to be informed about their state government and the decisions being made in it. Its quality must not be compromised.


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