Spectrum customers voice frustrations over service, cost & interruptions

Spectrum has issued two statements around the hotly-contested blackout of local Fox channels. On Friday around 5 or 6 p.m. customers of the telecommunications giant noticed the abrupt end of several channels.

WSYT (Fox 68) and WNYS (My43) were both pulled. For those living in the Central Finger Lakes — mainly in Seneca, Tompkins, and parts of Southern Wayne counties — it meant losing a vital local network channel.

“We apologize for not being available on Spectrum cable. We offered to extend our current agreement, and Spectrum took us off the air unexpectedly. We are however still available over the air with an antennae,” Fox Syracuse said in a statement.

According to those with the Fox Syracuse station — the channel was abruptly pulled without warning.

Since then, Spectrum released multiple responses — including one directly to a member of our news team on Twitter from their support channel.

“Ask_Spectrum” the company’s official, verified Twitter account said of the outage, “Northwest Broadcasting, owner of your local Fox and Telemundo affiliates, has pulled their channels from Spectrum.”

The statement continued, “We negotiated in good faith with them and are very disappointed that an agreement hasn’t been reached yet. We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this issue. For updates and additional information, including alternate programming options, please visit  http://www.NorthwestFairdeal.com.”

That thread continued as another user asked about a deal recently signed by Fox to air Thursday Night Football, which prompted the following response from the same verified account speaking on behalf of the company:

“If the channel is out for an extended period of time, we will make that determination. If a credit is issued, you will automatically receive a notification and adjustment on your billing statement. We are working to reach a  deal that is fair for everyone.”

When FL1 posted the original story on Facebook it drew a significant response — as more than 100 comments were placed on the thread within 24 hours.

Facebook user David Klehn said, “Here in Waterloo I lost Fox Channel 6 and also WNYS Channel 11. I still have Fox News, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. I also lost Channel 8 Syracuse several weeks ago. I’m getting real tired of Spectrum. It may be time for a change.”

While the removal of WROC-TV from the Syracuse-area market was one that frustrated many customers in Seneca County — the loss of another local network frustrated many on the edge of the Syracuse market.

Experts say it’s about market placement. While Seneca County rests in the middle — almost precisely — between Rochester and Syracuse, according to the cable giant — the County remains Syracuse-first.

That’s why the loss of a Syracuse network came as such a surprise.

However, as officials have pointed out on Spectrum’s behalf — the decision was one made based on stalled contract negotiations. The two involved parties — at this point — can’t even agree on who is responsible for the station being blacked out abruptly on Friday.

Facebook user Melissa Combs added, “Spectrum better stop removing channels and blaming others!! Yet us as customers do not get compensation for all the removal of channels in our packages. My package has gone up every month since getting service!!”

Losing channels is one thing, but technological changes in Spectrum’s service offering has also frustrated some — especially elderly customers.

In late-January, the company went “all digital” requiring a Spectrum Receiver — or cable box — for any television set. That meant, any T.V. that was plugged in directly to the wall via coaxial cable was stifled until a ‘digital receiver’ was added.

Spectrum gave out a limited number of those for ‘free’ to ‘select’ customers. However, once promotional pricing ends — and those ‘grace periods’ come to a close — customers were told to expect prices to increase between $5 and $10 per Spectrum Receiver.

Facebook user Amanda Lesterhuis added her voice of frustration over this change, “Spectrum blocked all our local digital channels this week and told us we need to pay $10 a month and get one of their cable boxes to get them back.” She continued, “I didn’t think it was possible to dislike a company more than Time Warner until now!”

Lisa Kaminski, a Spectrum customer in Seneca County added, So now that’s two stations we have lost in the Seneca falls/Waterloo area, WROC and now Fox, yet Spectrum just raised my bill by $24.00 a month!!”

Another concern raised by those weighing in on the matter involved the elderly. “Spectrum has created so many problems for elderly and vulnerable. I heard individuals at Wayne County Nursing Home lost their service,” said Facebook user Judy Abbott.

It’s been reported that many of these facilities are going through an extensive upgrade phase. While cable service was provided in these facilities — the necessity of a digital cable box, or ‘Spectrum Receiver’ atop every set means that hundreds need to be installed. Furthermore, many of the facilities need to go through significant resource upgrades to allow for enough digital signal to make it into their properties.

The full-statement reads as follows on a special website setup for the dispute by Spectrum:

Let Northwest Broadcasting Know You Want Them to Return Your Programming.

Why am I missing some of my channels?

Northwest Broadcasting, the owner of some local networks has removed their programming from Spectrum to create hardship for our customers, while we are negotiating in good faith to reach a fair agreement.

  • Northwest is demanding a ridiculous increase in programming fees- over 75%
  • They are demanding to be paid more than what we pay any other broadcast station for the same services.
  • This is simply how Northwest operates. They have pulled their channels from nearly all distributors over the recent years as a negotiating tactic.
  • We don’t think it’s fair that they are demanding huge fee increases, especially since their programming is provided free with a TV antenna, and much of it is available for free on the internet.
  • Spectrum is on your side and fighting to keep your costs down. The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable prices, and we are fighting hard to hold the line on programming rates imposed on us by groups like Northwest Broadcasting.

Spectrum has offered a fair proposal, with fee increases that are well above inflation and the cost of living for the same programming.

We asked to extend the negotiations to reach a fair deal, keeping programming in place.

We are very disappointed with their decision to pull their channels, which has negatively impacted our customers across the country.

Our negotiations are about one thing; reaching an agreement that is fair to our customers. We hope to be able to return this programming soon.

Take action now and let them know you want a fair deal! Call Northwest Broadcasting today at 517-347-4141 or send an email by entering your information below.

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