Time Warner Cable’s decision to pull New England Cable News from its Berkshire County coverage area has been met with a predictable sense of outrage. The Berkshire’s state legislative contingent has angrily denounced the move. So have many members of the public in letters to the editor that have been published in The Eagle. It’s not hard to see why people are angry. NECN is the county’s only 24-hour source for statewide and New England news, which means its absence will leave Berkshire viewers even more isolated from the rest of the state than they already are. Yogi Berra once said "it’s never over till it’s over," and given the way contracts are negotiated, it’s possible that just the threat of losing NECN could be used as a bargaining chip.
But if it isn’t, and the county definitely loses NECN, the move will not bode well for Time Warner’s popularity in the Berkshires. The cable giant already looks like it doesn’t care about this area. If NECN is actually eliminated, the corporate giant will look like it was completely deaf to the needs of a segment, albeit small, of its coverage area. One gets the impression that decisions like this are made in a boardroom with a bunch of executives moving pieces around on a spreadsheet as if they were actually playing a gigantic game of chess.
Do any of these corporations seek public input anymore? Do any of them really care? Do they even talk to anyone except for fellow executives? Of course, money is a factor in any decision a business makes, but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Given Time Warner’s significant presence in New York’s Capital Region, and many other places in the country, it’s hard to fathom how carrying a cable channel that a portion of its audience located in a state with no connection to Albany would like to see is going to create a significant financial burden.
It’s not the fault of Berkshire residents that the government placed the county in a television market that it has little in common with. Albany crime news has almost no connection to anybody here, and what town boards do in Schodack, or Queensbury or Troy has no impact on Berkshire residents at all. Lots of people in the Berkshires follow New York’s professional sports teams, but unless you went to one of the high schools in the Capital Region why would you care about how New York’s scholastic athletic teams are doing? Weather coverage is a benefit, because the weather we get in the Berkshires comes mostly from the west. But we are a part of New England, not New York. We should be able to get the news that most interests us.
If the government can’t correctly place Berkshire County in a television market that is relevant to us, why should the viewers in the Berkshires have to suffer? Corporations like Time Warner need to pay more attention to the people that they serve.