Conn. Network Gets Statewide Carriage

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Connecticut legislators and the state's cable operators have reached an unprecedented agreement that commits the companies to statewide carriage of government-affairs network Connecticut Network (CT-N) on basic tiers.

The pressure on operators to universally carry the network was intense.

CT-N and the state's attorney general filed as interveners in a refranchising docket for Cox Communications Inc. before the state's Department of Public Utility Control, arguing that new agreements for the 10 towns it serves should include a requirement to carry CT-N on basic. That signaled the desire to set a precedent that would apply to other operators at refranchising.

Also, state officials threatened legislation to compel carriage.

In the Cox docket, company attorneys argued against the interveners, noting that prior attempts by other states to mandate state government-channel carriage were struck down in court.

But faced with bipartisan support for CT-N carriage, operators sat down and individually negotiated agreements.

Currently, only 37 % of CT-N viewers can watch the 24/7 coverage on basic cable, while 40 % have to pay for more expensive digital channels for access and 20% of the state's approximately 1 million cable homes see CT-N part-time, if at all.

By Jan. 1, 2007, operators including Comcast Corp., Adelphia Communications Corp., Cox, Cablevision Systems Corp., Tele-Media Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. will have dedicated basic-channel slots to CT-N.

For some companies, this will mean moving the channel down from digital, but in the case of Charter, it will mean adding the network for the first time, according to legislators.

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