Tonight Macon City Council members met with Middle Georgians to discuss their problems with Cox's recent removal of public, education, and government channels from their service. Many people say this is a disservice to people in the community who don't have digital cable.
Cox representatives say all of their customers in Middle Georgia can still access PEG channels without digital service if they have a digital-ready TV, or if they set up a digital box. Cox says they have offered that box free of charge since October of last year and that offer stands until January of 2012. However, many Middle Georgians aren't buying it.
"They're basically using this as an opportunity to get the box into somebody's home and then start charging them for it in January," City Council Member Tom Ellington said.
The town hall meeting sponsored by Unity-N-Community tonight brought the issue to the forefront. At the meeting, city council representatives and customers agreed that government channels shouldn't have gotten the boot.
"There are other analog channels they could move I would suggest QVC, for instance--the Home Shopping Network--the TV Guide channel," Ellington suggested. "I mean, those are nice things to have, but I hardly think those are more important than the business of holding government accountable and local access to television."
No Cox representatives were present at the meeting, an observation that upset WPGA owner Lowell Register, who's been fighting a legal battle with Cox since they told him they would no longer carry his station.
"The Federal Communications Commission ruled in July of last year that we are a must carry station and that and they cannot take us off the system," Register said.
In November of 2009, however, Cox informed Register that, under their agreement, they were "not required to carry WPGA's Digital Signal if the station ceases to be a Top-4 station." Earlier that year, WPGA stopped their affiliation with ABC, which Cox claims violates their agreement. Register said this and other disputes between Cox and its customers are difficult to solve when Cox isn't present.
"They've got the long arm of their financial ability to jsut forget things like this and ignore the citizens that are here tongiht I mean they don't have to respond to them--so they lose a few hundred customers--in the multibillion dollar environment of Cox--that's not a lot of money," Register said.