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Local reps slam Time Warner


Berkshire Eagle 12/13/2013, Page B01

Letter to US senators, congressman vilifies cable company decision to eliminate NECN

Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD — The region’s legislative delegation is calling on federal lawmakers for help in their push to reverse Time Warner Cable’s decision to cut New England Cable News from Berkshire County’s channel lineup.

In a letter to U. S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U. S. Rep. Richard Neal, the fivemember Statehouse delegation says removing the Boston- based news channel, the county’s “ last link to the rest of their state,” is “ unconscionable.”

As reported Tuesday on BerkshireEagle. com, Time Warner is withdrawing NECN from all Berkshire County subscribers and its other customers in Massachusetts,New Hampshire and Maine at the end of the month.

The letter by state Rep. William “ Smitty” Pignatelli and Sen. Benjamin Downing and the county’s other legislators was sent Thursday.

“ I’m proud that the entire delegation is on board with this effort to protect our constituent’s rights to receive Massachusetts news,” Pignatelli said in a news statement.

Berkshire County falls in the Albany, N. Y., television market, and its cable television channels that cover state news from the Statehouse and Eastern Massachusetts has eroded in recent years. The Statehouse delegation also wants federal lawmakers to get the Federal Communications Commission to take Berkshire County out of the Albany TV market and put it into the Massachusetts one.

“ Residents of the Berkshires need and deserve access to information about their state government and regional news,” Downing said in his statement. “ We might be close to Albany, but Boston is our capital and that’s the news that affects our taxes, our communities, our quality of life. My hope is Time Warner will reconsider this ill- conceived decision.” Earlier this week, Time Warner’s Eastern U. S. Public Relations Director Scott Pryzwansky told The Eagle that the decision to drop NECN is final.

The company always evaluates the value of programming and adds or drops channels as a result, Pryzwansky said.

“ We do not believe NECN represents a good value for all of our New England customers,” Pryzwansky wrote. “ Value includes several factors, including cost, viewership and unique content.”

A copy of the letter, which is also signed by state Reps. Gailanne Cariddi, Paul Mark and Tricia Farley- Bouvier, is available online at berkshireeagle. com.