$100K in Avails Settle a Dispute


AT&T Broadband will give city officials here $100,000 worth of ad avails to end an argument over the status of the community's longtime local access channel.

Last year, AT&T shifted some channels in its San Francisco Bay area systems to make room for broadcaster KNTV, the region's new NBC affiliate. Longtime affiliate KRON in San Francisco had lost its network affiliation to the weaker San Jose station.

To fill in gaps in its over-the-air signal, KNTV must gain universal carriage on cable. It turned to AT&T Broadband and cut a deal, including carriage within channels 2 through 13.

Cities began complaining when told that their community channels — some with identities established for over a decade — would be moved to make room for the NBC affiliate. In Martinez, the local channel went to Channel 1 in homes with converter boxes. In cable ready homes, viewers had to surf to Channel 99 to find it.

Martinez accused AT&T Broadband of violating its franchise, which calls for a local-access channel within channels 2 through 12.

AT&T will provide 1,000 30-second avails to promote the shift of the local station to channel 26. The city has already used the avails to advertise its municipal New Year's Eve celebration.