Comcast Kicks Networks to Digital

MSNBC, TV Guide Channel and C-SPAN2 lost thousands of subscribers in Colorado Wednesday after Comcast’s system in the Centennial State kicked the channels from expanded basic to its digital-cable tier.

Comcast spokeswoman Cindy Parsons said the cable operator counts about 820,000 customers in Colorado. While Comcast wouldn’t say exactly how many subscribers lost MSNBC, TV Guide and C-SPAN2, Parsons said more than one-half of Comcast’s subscribers in Colorado have digital cable.

In order to appease customers who lost the channels because they don’t have digital set-tops installed in their homes, Comcast is offering one year of its starter digital-cable package free-of-charge, Parsons added.

Comcast is one of several cable operators, including Time Warner Cable, that are moving channels from analog to digital tiers in order to free up bandwidth. This allows the operators to offer more HDTV channels and other new services.

The move apparently irked some subscribers. Nancy Scanland, a Comcast subscriber from Wheat Ridge, Colo., wrote in a message on Multichannel News’ Web site, “Now to get the renamed network, I have to upgrade to digital. Who makes these decisions?”

Parsons said Comcast received some complaints from subscribers since it dropped the three networks from analog Wednesday.

One network executive denounced the move. “We believe that migrating TV Guide Network from analog to digital is not in the best interest of any cable system’s analog customers who clearly rely on the channel to help determine their viewing options,” Gemstar-TV Guide International senior vice president of corporate communications Eileen Murphy said.