WUSF TV, Bright House Feud

analog tv
TAMPA (2009-06-16) -

A blue screen greets Bright House Network basic cable TV subscribers in the Bay area who try to watch WUSF TV. The message says you have to upgrade to a digital cable box - for an extra dollar a month.

The station has gotten hundreds of calls since WUSF stopped being carried on the basic cable channel Friday. WUSF general manager JoAnn Urofsky says some of those people have called to cancel their memberships, saying they could no longer view the station.

"If people can't see WUSF, there's no reason for them to send a check," Urofsky says. "The concept of public broadcasting is great, but if you don't use it, you're not going to pay for it."

Bright House says the move came after the industry trade group American Public Television Stations agreed with the major cable companies that they would only have to carry the primary PBS station in each market. In the Tampa Bay area, that would be WEDU.

Bright House spokesman Joe Durkin says WUSF had the choice of staying on the basic tier, but that would have meant not carrying the three other digital channels provided by the television station.

"Here's an opportunity for WUSF to have 70 percent of their customers seeing four WUSF channels, or the other option would have been having 100 percent of the customers seeing only one channel," says Durkin. "So we believe they made the right choice."

The station has gotten hundreds of calls since Bright House stopped carrying WUSF on the basic cable channel Friday. Urofsky says it's up to the public television viewers to contact their cable companies to keep the station in the basic channel lineup. This is the second time a cable company has dropped WUSF TV from its basic lineup - Comcast Cable did so earlier this year in Sarasota County.

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