Time Warner Cable is taking heat from local representatives in Washington over its decision to drop New England Cable News (NECN) from its Berkshire lineup.
Massachusetts Democratic Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, fired off a letter to the company’s CEO, Glenn A. Britt, late Friday asking him to reconsider the unexplained decision to pull the 24-hour news and weather channel from Time Warner’s cable systems throughout Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.
The letter came in response to a request from the entire Berkshire delegation of lawmakers to take action on the decision to yank NECN.
Warren, Markey and Neal expressed concern over the TWC action.
"Given that NECN is the only 24-hour source of televised regional news coverage available to Massachusetts residents, we strongly support maintaining its availability to TWC subscribers in the Berkshires," the lawmakers wrote.
"Without NECN, Berkshire communities will be severed from other parts of the Commonwealth," the letter continued, "and be left without access to a wide range of important information about Massachusetts and the rest of New England."
The letter was released late Friday by state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, who told The Eagle that while he appreciated the effort, he would have preferred a stronger approach, such as a phone call to Time Warner’s CEO.
"While we understand that TWC has to consider numerous factors in determining its channel offerings to consumers," the Washington lawmakers wrote, "we urge you to revisit and reverse TWC’s decision to drop NECN. We appreciate your attention to this important matter."
In a statement Friday night responding to the letter, Time Warner said that while it always seeks to keep the lines of communication open, there will be no change in its decision to discontinue NECN.
Berkshire lawmakers, including Pignatelli, State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, and state Reps. Gailanne Cariddi, Paul Mark and Tricia Farley-Bouvier had formally protested the Time Warner action in a strongly worded letter Thursday to the Washington lawmakers.
In response to The Eagle’s query, Time Warner public relations executive Scott Pryzwansky issued a statement earlier this week that "we do not believe NECN represents a good value for all of our New England customers. Value includes several factors, including cost, viewership and unique content." He described the decision as final.
At NECN, Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike St. Peter stated: "We have negotiated with Time Warner Cable, and are very disappointed in their decision, which will result in fewer options and diminished service for their New England customers."
News of NECN’s impending removal from Time Warner at the end of the month unleashed a wave of protest from viewers, some of whom threatened to cancel their cable service.
Although a Boston TV channel is available on the company’s Berkshire systems for scheduled local newscasts, they are blacked out for most of the day and night since the county is designated as part of the Albany TV market, which gives that city’s channels exclusive rights to televise network and syndicated programming to this county.
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