Charter System Drops Six Nets in Switchout


Looking to standardize its program lineup throughout St. Louis, Charter Communications Inc. will drop six digital networks from one of its systems in the local suburbs, officials said last week.

Starting Sept. 4, the newly rebuilt system in St. Peters, Mo. — which Charter had acquired from AT&T Broadband — will switch out ESPNews, GoodLife TV, Trio, NewsWorld International, Outdoor Channel and INSP: The Inspiration Network.

Roughly 16,000 of the system's 50,000 subscribers have digital cable.

Those six networks are delivered to the cable system via Headend in the Sky, the digital-programming delivery platform owned by AT&T. Charter has been moving away from using HITS in some markets.

In its St. Louis cluster, Charter is consolidating headends and wants a consistent channel lineup across its systems, according to MSO spokesman Dave Andersen.

A year ago, Charter and ESPN engaged in a public battle over the issue of ESPNews offering streaming video on its Web site. During that squabble, Charter dropped ESPNews from cable systems representing about 235,000 homes. Charter's current affiliation contract with ESPNews permits the MSO to drop it in markets where the operator is consolidating headends, like St. Louis and others, Andersen said.

Officials with ESPN and The Outdoor Channel said they hope to work with Charter to get their networks reinstated in the St. Peters system.