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Mayor Linda Tyer has activated a part of the contract requiring Spectrum to hold a public hearing.

Pittsfield Schedules Public Hearing With Spectrum On Cable Changes

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The city welcomed Izinna Lytle as the first black woman in the Police Department.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is invoking a clause in its contract with Spectrum to get answers about changes to television local offerings.
Mayor Linda Tyer has scheduled a public hearing for Monday, March 19, at 6 p.m. at the Berkshire Atheneum with the cable company. The company has encrypted its signal and has changed the community television station channels.
A clause in the city's contract with the company allows for it to call a public hearing with the company to address such matters.
Last week the community television's three channels -- Access Pittsfield, CityLink, and Pittsfield ETV -- were moved from Channels 15, 17 and 18 to 1301, 1302 and 1303. That is coupled with the company moving to an encrypted digital signal requiring residents to get cable boxes.
That change is happening throughout the Berkshires and many residents have voiced frustration with the move. City Councilor Kevin Morandi has also requested that Spectrum representatives attend a City Council meeting as well.
"I know they don't have to come here but I think we should still hold their feet to the fire," Morandi said.
Morandi is particularly concerned with senior citizens who can no longer watch cable on their existing televisions without renting the box from the company. Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell said he's hearing reports of the company's local office running out of cable boxes.
"Even if they have the boxes, to try to get one at their office is like trying to get into a New York deli at noontime," Connell said.
The public hearing has been billed mostly to talk about the changes with Pittsfield Community Television stations but Tyer encouraged the councilors to raise any issues they are hearing.
Spectrum officials were not available to attend Tuesday's council meeting. But the councilors will still ask them to appear in the future.
The council also approved four items related to the Berkshire Innovation Center. The center had been a city project for years and now that is switching to the nonprofit Berkshire Innovation Center Inc. With that, many previous agreements such as leases or acceptance of grant money had to be switched from the city to the organization.
"There were some complicated structures in place that make this awkward and unwieldy," Tyer said. "We're just unwinding and rescinding the prior structure so the city's obligations are very simple."
The move also relinquished liability the city would have to repay the grant funds should the innovation center fail. It also takes away the city's requirement to borrow for construction before the grant funds are distributed.
Izinna Lytle was also appointed to the Police Department. Lytle is the department's first black woman on the force.

Tags: cable television,   spectrum,   

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