A fellow progressive alerted me today about a highly discriminatory
new practice being implemented by Comcast. I told him I would post
something on Kos since he is not currently active here. From what I can
tell, this applies to all Comcast customers, not just those in my
(quite red) area of Jacksonville, Florida.
As of 8.12.09, Comcast has moved MSNBC from its Digital Starter
Package to its Digital Classic Lineup while leaving Fox News on the
Starter package. What this means is that one now has to pay an
additional $17 per month ($204 per year) to view anything progressive
enough to even remotely balance out FNC's right wing extremism
(although, let's be honest, MSNBC could install Castro himself in
Tweety's time slot and still not provide sufficient balance for the
far-right insanity that is Beck/Billo/Hannity).
So they are calling this a "channel realignment,"
which I guess is like the broadcasting equivalent of gerrymandering.
Apparently it's done with electronic switching from the Comcast HQ. The
neighbor who alerted me to the situation is an attorney, and he thinks
this appears to be to be an FCC/Fairness Doctrine violation. He has
suggested to our Senator, Bill Nelson, that congress should enforce a
"Menu Based" or "Cafeteria Style" subscription contract on the cable
industry since it costs them nothing to make the switches.
I think the most immediate concern though is pressuring Comcast to
include MSNBC in this Digital Basic Package IMMEDIATELY. If you'd like
to join me, here are the email addresses of some key executives:
D'Arcy Rudnay, SVP Corp Communications
David Juliano, EVP Marketing
Brian Roberts, CEO
Stephen Burke, President, Cable
David Watson, EVP Operations
David Cohen, EVP
Amy Banse, SVP
Another issue I should have mentioned is
the channel assignments, which are somewhat biased in and of
themselves. Here in Jacksonville at least, MSNBC is relegated to
channel #185 (and this was true even before the "realignment.") In
contrast, Fox News is 33, CNN is 35, CSPAN is 27, even CSPAN-TWO is
105, for god's sake! So the average viewer is not going to hit on MSNBC
by accident or by casually channel-surfing.
Update #2 It's been very astutely suggested that it
may be equally if not more effective to contact NBC and urge them to
negotiate more forcefully for placement of MSNBC within the 1st tier of
programming on Comcast (and all delivery systems really). Here is a
list of contacts: