Cable company wants to consolidate government channels

Tue, 04/10/2007 - 4:17pm
By: Ben Nelms

It may be four channels into one. That was the April 5 agreement by Fayetteville City County to have the city’s community channel operated by Comcast Cable merged into one channel.

Currently, Comcast Cable customers receive five local channels programmed by the governments of Peachtree City, Fayetteville, Tyrone, Fayette County and the Board of Education — each occupying its own channel. The school board will retain its exclusive channel and be unaffected by the change.

The swap-off, if approved by the remaining Fayette governments, will be this: Local governments get technical assistance for their programming needs and Comcast gets to add three channels for customers.

Comcast Government and Community Affairs Senior Director Andy Macke said the company wanted to combine the four current local government channels in Fayetteville, Peachtree City, Tyrone and Fayette County into one channel. The council agreed to an 18-month trial period to assess the benefits of the agreement.

“We want to reclaim that space so we can introduce more high definition programming and new channels,” Macke said. “In exchange, we will partner up with the respective local governments and community organizations like the chamber with developing local content. So instead of four channels with bulletin boards we will have one channel with announcements, but we will also work with you to develop content (on that channel) to better get your message out.”

Macke said Comcast had already began discussions with Fayetteville to explore potential programming and will work with Main Street and other organizations in the city and county to determine their needs.

“We’ve also talked about partnering with public safety to get the word out about best practices or safety measures,” Macke continued. “As we work together the applications will become more clear. We’re committed to the spending the dollars and providing the technical know-how to help get that programming up, including On Demand on Channel 1.”

On another issue, Macke said Comcast would be expanding its office in Fayette County. The company settled on a site on Dividend Drive in Peachtree City and will move some of its technicians from Clayton County to the Fayette office. The office will house 50 technicians and local Comcast General Manager Kenny Faust. The office is expected to open in late June.

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