Spectrum (copy) (copy)

Charter Communications, Spectrum's parent company, paid $23,000 to settle with North Adams, after the city accused the company of breaking its contract.

NORTH ADAMS — Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, had 30 days to install fiber between two points in the city and Northern Berkshire Community Television’s studio.

And 903 days later, it hadn’t been done, according to a letter Mayor Tom Bernard wrote to Charter Communications in September 2018. That letter notified the company that it was violating its contract with the city, and it led to a settlement of $23,000, finalized in December.

All the money went to Northern Berkshire Community Television as the “injured party,” Bernard said. The organization’s executive director could not be reached for comment.

“It is a small win, but it is a win,” Bernard told the City Council on Tuesday night, announcing the agreement. “It doesn’t address issues of quality of service, responsiveness, or cost. However, the payment addressed and corrected those areas where clear violations of contract had occurred.”

Why did Bernard make the announcement now?

“It was just one of those cleanup things,” he told The Eagle. “I was going through catch-up items. I just wanted to put it out on the table.”

In September 2018, the city sent Charter Communications a letter notifying the company it was violating its contract.

The lack of fiber installation between Northern Berkshire Community Television’s studio and City Hall and Drury High School was one issue, according to the letter.

“Among the countless lost opportunities for the community as a result of this failure are those connected with the North Adams Public Schools, including live educational programming that went both unaired and, if cablecast, the signal and programming was of significantly diminished quality,” the letter reads. It adds that programming from City Hall was “also of significantly diminished quality.”

The second issue: When Charter moved public, educational and government access channel locations, it did not notify Northern Berkshire Community Television and gave the city less than 30 days’ notice, according to Bernard’s letter.

“Charter Communications has demonstrated a pattern of neglect and non-responsiveness to the issuing authority, its designees, the City, the access corporation, and subscribers,” the 2018 letter from Bernard to Charter Communications reads. “The licensee unfortunately and repeatedly taken a dismissive attitude toward its contractual obligations.”

A spokesperson for Charter Communications declined to comment.

The agreement was signed in December 2020.

“The settlement addresses the two main issues intended in the breach notice regarding notification when they moved local channels, including the one that those watching at home are watching now,” Bernard said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, “as well as the cost of the fiber line provided in the contract that they need to make good on.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6272.


Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.