No cable swap coming soon

Published 12:44 am Sunday, May 25, 2014

The city says it is monitoring the situation surrounding its approved cable franchise, Charter, amid reports that customers in the Hampton Roads area will be switched to Comcast as part of an agreement involving Time Warner.

However, it likely will be late this year or early next year before anything actually happens, according to Charter spokesman Alex Dudley.

“The merger has to be approved by federal regulators,” Dudley said. “Following that, there’s a transition period. It’s not like anybody’s going to wake up and there will be wholesale changes.”

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Charter has a franchise agreement with the city to be the provider of cable and other services in Suffolk.

“We will continue to monitor this situation and any potential impacts on the franchise agreement and cable television customers in Suffolk,” city spokeswoman Diana Klink wrote in an email.

Already, some customers in Suffolk weren’t happy with Charter. Earlier this year, Vice Mayor Charles Brown proposed a motion directing the city to investigate a replacement for Charter after the company switched to an all-digital format, leaving customers without service unless they purchased special equipment.

The company also switched local access and government channels, meaning some customers that received them before no longer did unless they upgraded their plan.

Klink said the city is moving forward with plans to open a request for information to solicit other cable television providers to come into the Suffolk market. The process is close to being ready to move forward, she said.

Comcast hopes to merge with Time Warner Cable, but Charter previously also wanted part of the deal. The two companies are switching customers in some areas and also spinning some off into a separate company that would be co-owned by both entities.