Charter Chided In West Virginia

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West Virginia's Public Service Commission has "strongly urged" Charter Communications Inc. to work on resolving the problems that prompted the community of Lewisburg to file a complaint with the regulator.

Charter has no trouble switching channels and passing through franchise fees to complaining subscribers, but the PSC was alerted to the poor performance after a local man and the city filed the complaint last October.

Commissioners directed the state office's engineering staff to informally investigate the electric power supply in the city's surrounding area of Greenbrier County. Cable executives have blamed the utility for some of its outages, but the state agency criticized the operator for failing to equip the system with back-up generators.

Engineers have been instructed to file a report with the PSC by July 9 to determine if the state should conduct a general investigation.

Most irksome to the community was Charter's decision to drop the ABC affiliate from Charleston, WCHS-TV. Charter representatives said distance and rough terrain combined to weaken the broadcaster's signal.

Customers in the 3,000-subscriber system also told state regulators they could not get through to the operator to complain.

The PSC has ordered Charter to file monthly reports on how it is handling calls in the center serving Lewisburg. Charter has to file the reports for a year, according to the state commission's instructions.

As for the individual consumer who complained, Charter has determined that the poor signal quality in the home of Thurman Wade was attributable to a splitter in use in the home. The operator told the state it would attempt to resolve his concerns.

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