by Mike Garofalo
Comcast has cut the cord to the New York City channels on Rider’s campus.
As with many large corporations, Comcast claims to provide a service at the best price. According to Jonathan Jones, a manager in the Office of Information Technologies, the same quantity of channels that students receive now could cost double the price with a smaller provider. Despite this deal, a recent e-mail sent out by Dean of Students Anthony Campbell informed the Rider community about the termination of New York stations to campus.
It must be noted that the Federal Communications Commission upholds laws that broadcasters are required to air certain stations. Mercer County has been considered, for some time, a “fringe” county, according to Jones. In other words, the classification of stations in Mercer is not straightforward because of its location between Philadelphia and
New York City.
Until recently, both Philadelphia and New York channels were transmitted, but things have changed. Even so, Comcast is still offering the best deal from a financial standpoint. However, it is not actually bound by “must-carry” laws to provide the New York stations, only those from Philadelphia, and therefore there is no legal dilemma in this situation.
The reason for these major changes seems to be very obvious: competition. Naturally, the end goal is to provide the most channels, and this is most efficiently attained by digital means. Verizon has made Fios available and so Comcast has offered a completely digital high-speed network as well. In turn, the familar analog will be phasing out and digital is coming in. Anywhere from five to 12 digital stations can replace just one analog station, Jones said.
While this transitional phase is difficult for both business and consumer, the end result could be satisfying — a variety of new channels may be on the way. These could potentially include: National Geographic, ESPN News, Encore (uninterrupted movies), multiple MTV choices, Logo (the gay and lesbian channel) and a host of VH1 varieties.
In short, something for everyone would be offered. These would not be in HD, said Jones.
It must be noted that the preceding channels are mere possibilities. Even in the event of a complete switch to digital, Comcast is still in control of the situation, and it cannot be assumed that these stations would be present. Even now, Comcast has utilized its capability to remove stations as with New York’s Fox and CBS, said Jones.
According to Jones, as soon as the channel list is released to students in the beginning of the year, it could easily become outdated. This is because Comcast has the right to alter channels at any time, which is not a new procedure.
Rider is working toward an agreement with Comcast that would return the New York stations to the lineup. A time frame could not be released because there are still details that need to be addressed, Jones said. Even if the campus were to go digital in the future, there is one problem that would need to be confronted: the Rider-specific stations, such as the Rider University Network, are still analog and therefore this conflict of compatibility would have to be solved first.
Some Rider students find that they are not watching much television at all. They may occasionally tune in to a news network or a big game, but do not consider themselves to be religious television watchers.
On the other hand, there are also students who are very disappointed to have their stations removed so swiftly and unexpectedly. Junior Chrislynn Porta, for example, has expressed her discontent in no longer being able to support her favorite football team on NY Fox and CBS.
For now, the date for Americans to know is Feb. 17. This is the day that signal will be broadcast exclusively by digital transmission. For many Americans, this may mean purchasing something new, whether it is a converter box or a new