It is not every day that a mammoth corporation backs down from a bad move, so Time-Warner’s decision Friday to reverse field and keep New England Cable News on its systems in the Berkshires and elsewhere in New England is to be celebrated. Congratulations to the Berkshires’ state legislative delegation and our county’s representatives in Congress for their diligent efforts, to the many customers who made their unhappiness known in phone calls, letters to Time Warner and letters to the Eagle editor, and to Time Warner for being willing to listen.
There is still a larger battle to be fought, however. The original decision to cancel NECN came about in large part because the Berkshires, in the eyes of the Federal Communications Commission, are classified as being in the Albany, New York marketplace even though Albany, of course, is located in a different state than the Berkshires. This classification was made at the dawn of television, back in the days of "Howdy-Doody," "The Lone Ranger" and the "Soupy Sales Show," when primitive antennas in the Berkshires could haul in a couple of Albany signals and little else.
A half a century or so later, we have cable television, satellite television, Internet access to broadcasting and undoubtedly more digital innovations to come, and the Berkshires are still at the mercy of a decision made when George Reeves’ Superman fought for truth, justice and the American way. Medical practitioners have advanced from leeches and the FCC needs to update its ancient policy and acknowledge not only new communication realities but the presence of Berkshire County in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The county has reclaimed an important source of state news in NECN. The next step is to reclaim its spot in the state in the eyes of the FCC.