Via a Marcia Standiford email (note that this change is driven by a massive telco giveaway signed into law by Wisconsin Governor Doyle recently):
Dear Parents and Friends of MMSD-TV:
Have you enjoyed seeing your child on MMSD-TV? Do you appreciate having access to live coverage of school board meetings?
Channels 10 and 19, the cable TV service of the Madison Metropolitan School District, are moving. As a result of a recent law deregulating cable television, Charter Cable has decided to move our channels to digital channels 992 and 993 effective August 12, 2008.
What will this mean for you?
To continue seeing Madison Board of Education meetings, high school sporting events, fine arts, school news, newscasts from around the world or any of the other learning services offered by MMSD-TV, you will need a digital TV or digital video recorder (DVR) with a QAM tuner. If you do not have a digital TV, you will need to obtain a set-top digital converter box from Charter. Charter has agreed to provide the box at no charge for the first six months of service to customers UPON SPECIFIC REQUEST, after which Charter will add a monthly fee to your bill for rental of the box.
Be advised, however, that the Charter box is NOT the same box being advertised by broadcasters as a way of receiving digital over-the-air signals after the national conversion to digital which will take place in February, 2009.
Confused and frustrated? – Understandably so. Therefore, we want to help you in making this transition.
Charter Cable is required by law to provide space on its basic tier for community access television from the Madison Schools as well as from the City of Madison and WYOU Community Television. Charter will continue to include MMSD-TV and the other Madison community access channels in their basic cable service at the existing subscription rate. However, the channels will be viewable only — as noted above –with a digital TV or by renting a digital converter.
The new location for MMSD-TV on channels 992 and 993 will be part of a “public affairs neighborhood”, a block of channels 980-999 that will include CSPAN II, CSPAN III, Wisconsin Eye (state government programming), along with other community channels from the Madison and Dane County areas.
What to do?
- Call Charter customer service at (888) 438-2427 to request a digital converter box at no charge in order to receive your basic service which includes the digital “public affairs neighborhood” channels.
- Need answers? Send your questions and/or concerns in an email to Tim Vowell, Charter Communications Vice President of Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send a copy to me at email@example.com.
- Let me know if your contact with Charter is successful. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 663-1969.
- Call the State of Wisconsin legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472. Describe your concerns related to cable TV and the new law — Act 42.
- Keep watching MMSD-TV on channels 10 & 19 until August 12, 2008. After that date, find us at 992 and 993.
Of course we will continue to expand our offerings on the web at www.mmsd.tv. But we want to make sure we reach as many families as possible. This is why MMSD’s access to cable TV remains a critical resource. Please help us preserve that resource.
Thank you for your interest. Keep in touch!
Manager of Cable and Video Services
Madison Metropolitan School District
545 W. Dayton St.
Madison, WI 53703
The local schools should operate a public fiber network within the city. The buildings represent a great ‘footprint”. It would be great for the schools, and perhaps with some astute legal and economic legwork, a huge win for the city. Another idea for the November referendum.