Senators Markey, Warren, and Rep. Neal Reintroduce Legislation to Restore WCVB and WWLP Television Channels to the Berkshires
Charter removed WWLP TV in April 2017 and WCVB TV in June 2018
Washington (May 23, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Congressman Richard E. Neal (MA-01) today reintroduced federal legislation that will force the cable company Charter to engage in good faith negotiations with WWLP and WCVB to bring those stations back on the air in Berkshire County. Specifically, the bill authorizes a cable operator (Charter) to transmit any station that was retransmitted to viewers on December 1, 2016, including WWLP and WCVB, to subscribers in the Albany Designated Market Area (DMA), which includes Berkshire County, and forces Charter and the stations to negotiate carriage. The bill also preserves Berkshire County residents’ access to Albany, New York stations that provide relevant weather updates and important emergency information.
Senator Markey will push to advance this legislation as Congress begins work on Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization later this year.
“Residents of the Berkshires deserve access to the local broadcast television stations that allow them to follow their favorite teams, learn how their state tax dollars are being spent, and stay apprised of news and events across the Commonwealth” said Senator Markey. “Charter’s consumers shouldn’t be caught in the middle of this business dispute, and that’s why I am continuing my efforts to bring WWLP and WCVB back on the air in Berkshire County.”
“For far too long, Berkshire County residents have been unable to view news broadcasts that are relevant to their community, keep track of political and government affairs, follow their favorite sports teams, or stay up-to-date on critical weather and emergency alerts,” said Senator Warren. “Congress should swiftly pass this bill to help restore local programming to the Berkshires.”
“Berkshire County cable subscribers should be able to access local television programming that matters to them,” said Congressman Neal. “That is why I am re-introducing legislation in the U.S. House to fix this matter. The people of western Massachusetts want to view regional news, get emergency alerts, be advised of severe weather, and watch religious broadcasting. We have been struggling with this issue for far too long already. I believe that this ‘regional disenfranchisement’ can be resolved, and I intend to work with my colleagues and communications stakeholders to get it done.”
“Last year Senator Markey made a commitment to the delegation to take this on at the federal level and we are grateful for his intervention to help address a critical issue for Berkshire County residents,” said State Senator Adam Hinds and State Representatives Smitty Pignatelli, Paul Mark, and Tricia Farley-Bouvier.
“I’m pleased that Senator Markey continues to put pressure on cable companies like Charter and their questionable business practices,” State Representative John Barrett.
“For many Pittsfield residents, access to local programming and cable television is not just about entertainment, it’s a meaningful way for them to stay connected to their community,” said Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer. “I am grateful for the collaboration and continued and persistent advocacy on the part of our legislators to create a pathway forward.”
“I’m grateful to Senators Markey and Warren, and to Congressman Neal, for their commitment to local programming, regional equity, and ensuring that residents and cable subscribers in North Adams and Berkshire County have access to complete and relevant local news and information,” North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard. “This proposed legislation is part of an ongoing collaboration at the federal, state, and local levels to put the needs and priorities of the customers front and center for Charter. Working with these dedicate leaders in Washington and our state delegation we have the opportunity to negotiate carriage agreement that will hold this company accountable to its customers, and will restore Boston (WCVB) and Springfield (WWLP) programming to the Berkshires.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
Last May, Senator Markey, Senator Warren, and Congressman Neal sent a letter to Charter Communications and Hearst Television expressing concerns about the ongoing business dispute between the two parties.