“Dean and Company,” the quirky fixture of Birmingham cable, debuted its annual Christmas special earlier this week on Channel 4. That’s the Bright House public access channel.
But the channel itself is going off the air in 2010. On Jan. 1, Bright House Networks is moving public access programming to its “In Demand” channels for government, religion and sports. Those channels are in the digital tier.
When asked how many Bright House subscribers pay for basic cable vs. digital cable, a company official replied that he “didn’t know.” For comparison, competitor Time Warner Cable has 14.6 million basic cable subscribers and 8.8 million digital tier subscribers. Such a move could shrink the audience for public access programs by 60 percent or more.
The programming will continue to be available through the cable system’s “on demand” feature.
Among the programs affected are Birmingham city council meetings, “Birmingham Public Library Presents,” “Real Arts Birmingham,” “Moving Forward from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute” and “The Best of the Sidewalk Film Festival.”
Bright House is the sole cable operator for the City of Birmingham as well as other nearby cities.
Although cable companies are required by the federal government to carry public access channels, some markets have cut their channels because of low viewership or lax city requirements. Time Warner closed 12 Los Angeles public access studios providing programming for 11 channels in January.
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