Washington – Comcast executive vice president David Cohen is scheduled to testify Jan. 29 before a House subcommittee on the cable company's decision to require thousands of analog-only customers in Michigan to acquire digital set-top boxes to continue viewing public, educational and governmental channels.
Cohen is expected to testify before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet along with John O'Reilly, mayor of Dearborn, Mich.; Gail Torreano, president of AT&T Michigan; and Annie Folger, executive director of Midpeninsula Community Media Center, Palo Alto, Calif.
PEG channels, carried on cable systems pursuant to commitments made in local franchise agreements, feature all sorts of local content, including parades, high schools sports, and city council sessions.
Comcast's plan called for giving affected customers one digital box for one year, but charging for additional set-tops immediately. House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), upset with Comcast's plan, asked the company to reconsider in a letter late last year to chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.
On Jan. 14, U.S. Judge Victoria Roberts, of the U.S. District Court for Michigan's Eastern District, issued a temporary restraining order, barring Comcast from moving the PEG channels from their current location or converting them to digital without the court's permission. Dearborn and Meridian Township went to court to stop Comcast.