Cablevision Responds to Changes

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To the Editor:

In her recent column about Cablevision Systems Corp.'s realignment of its channel lineups throughout its New York cluster, Multichannel News editor in chief Marianne Paskowski summoned the David Bowie song, "Changes," to describe our actions.

The more appropriate Bowie reference is his film, The Man Who Fell to Earth, or: Where have you been for the past two months?

Surprisingly, Ms. Paskowski seems to have missed the mountains of publicity that preceded our move to make our channel lineups more uniform and logical throughout our New York tristate service area. Our massive communications effort was a model for what a cable company can do to rearrange its channel lineups successfully with minimal inconvenience for customers.

In fact, call volumes on the day the changes took effect were only slightly heavier than normal.

In advance of the changes, Cablevision mailed two channel lineups separately to every home. The pieces carried large bold headlines on the outside that read, "Many of Your Favorite Channels Are Moving Today."

We placed ads in local newspapers, utilized billboards, communicated the changes extensively on our cable-TV systems and sent every customer a free issue of TV Guide that advertised the new lineups. There were three stories and even an editorial praising the channel changes in Ms. Paskowski's hometown Journal-News.

Multichannel News' own story Feb. 28 noted how federal mandates sparked these changes. Because of recent federal must-carry rulings, we had to place independent WXTV on channel 41 across the tristate area. This meant that we had to move a minimum of 10 channels because federal must-carry laws required a number of other stations to be resituated.

It was always in Cablevision's long-term plans to make our lineups more uniform and logical throughout the region, and we believe it was much more convenient for our customers to make all contemplated changes to our lineups in a single stroke, with excellent accompanying communications.

Like other cable operators, Cablevision has grown larger by acquiring cable systems from other companies. One legacy of the previously diverse ownership was a bewildering patchwork of channel lineups.

For example, a customer in White Plains, N.Y., could be watching ESPN on channel 41, while close by in Yonkers, N.Y., the same game would be on channel 36. That's the type of chaotic situation Cablevision's new uniform channel lineup has rectified.

While we know change inspires some levels of stress, we expect that grouping channels by areas of interest will-after a very short adjustment period-lead to greater customer satisfaction.

We are hopeful that Ms. Paskowski and her friends in Westchester County, N.Y., will soon be among those satisfied customers.

Craig Watson

Senior Vice President

Consumer Telecommunications Fulfillment

Cablevision Systems Corp.

Editor's Response:

OK, OK. But why, oh why, is CNN Headline News now off in Siberia on channel 59, when all of the other news channels are clumped together at the head of the lineup pack? The answer, in part: to make room for Cablevision's own pack of Metro Channels.

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