Comcast Trashes C-SPAN 2December 8th, 2007

Cable subscribers in my city no longer have C-SPAN 2. There’s just a test pattern at channel 23 now for Hartford residents, but I’m guessing we’ll have additional coverage of sports like poker and street-fighting in due course.

The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN) was grudgingly given by the cable industry to the TV-consuming public, along with public access channels, in return for monopoly status in local TV markets. C-SPAN operates three television stations and broadcasts public affairs programs continuously day and night. C-SPAN 1 has gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives and C-SPAN 2 has complete coverage of the Senate.   C-SPAN 3 has miscellaneous governmental, civic, educational, and literary meetings, and that’s what fills up the time on the other two channels when Congress isn’t in session.

Until last week, Hartford cable subscribers had channels dedicated to C-SPAN 1 and C-SPAN 2.  C-SPAN 2 was occasionally preempted by basketball or hockey, usually during the evening, but it always came back the next day. Now it seems to be gone forever. As far as I know, subscribers weren’t consulted.

I hollered (by email). I tune in C-SPAN 2 every weekend when the station becomes “Book TV,” featuring lectures and panel discussions about books, and I watch Senate coverage when there’s an important debate (a rare event, but a revealing one for responsible citizens). I won’t have that anymore, and so I emailed customer service and asked why.

“Dear Stephen

“Thank you for contacting Comcast.

“I apologize, C-Span 2 was moved to allow us to expand our Digital line-up. This change was made by both Comcast and C-Span 2..

“If this doesn’t resolve your issue to your satisfaction, please reply to this email for further assistance.

“Thank you for choosing Comcast.

“Sincerely,

“Brian

“Comcast Customer Care Specialist”

I’m still waiting for a response to my further inquiry. I asked to talk to somebody. Here’s what I want to ask:

  • Was there any effort to find out whether viewers would support this change?
  • Did the decision-makers consider whether this is a good time to cut back on public affairs programming, with an election just ahead and a two wars going on?
  • What’s planned for channel 23?
  • Did other markets lose C-SPAN 2, or was it just Hartford?
  • Were pressures applied by any government official or agency to prompt this decision?
  • Did anybody dissent from this decision?
  • Why wasn’t this decision announced publicly in advance?
  • How many other subscribers have complained about this?