Cable service changes hands on South Shore
Stay tuned for big-time programming changes in the coming months from Lake Tahoe’s new cable operator that could make “Godzilla” look like “Jurassic Park.”
St. Louis-based Charter Communications closed the March deal last week to buy some AT&T Broadband systems, including those serving the Lake Tahoe, Reno and Carson City areas.
AT&T has served more than 15,000 subscribers on the South Shore, while Charter has brought cable to about 4,000 customers in Tahoe Paradise and Meyers.
Comcast Corporation’s $44 billion bid announced Monday for AT&T’s cable operation has no effect on this region’s cable deal.
Charter wants to move viewers into the digital age, boosting the number of channels offered to more than 150, company officials confirmed Tuesday. It will also offer 350-plus movie titles through a video-on-demand service, which allows a subscriber to call up a movie at a preferred time.
Subscribers can expect to eventually switch their equipment with these changes.
Charter also plans to give subscribers high-speed Internet access. Users will gain the ability to watch a game on television and uplink a play to a friend on e-mail.
“Paul Allen has a very clear vision for this company,” said Joe Camicia, vice president of public relations for Charter’s West Coast Region.
Allen, a multi-billion co-founder of Microsoft, owns a majority of the publicly held Fortune 500 company.
Rates are a bit of a question mark at this point.
AT&T raised the rates by 5 percent in February because fees the networks charge the cable operators have increased. Sports programming, in particular, has risen by 15 percent.
Camicia said these fees are affected each time high-profile sports celebrities re-negotiate their contracts.
“People don’t realize that ends up on their cable bill,” he said.
One South Lake Tahoe subscriber suggested the company bill after services rendered, but Camicia said this practice would be tough as there is no way to recoup losses if a subscriber declines to pay.
“Obviously, when we add programming there’s a change in cost. But there’s no change (in rates) with the transfer,” Camicia said of the company buy out.
The $1.79 billion acquisition amounts to 156,000 more subscribers Charter will add to its 6.4 million customers nationwide.
“We’re excited to be a part of the community,” Camicia said.
Charter will retain AT&T’s office on Emerald Bay Road and most of its employees. A few staffers have left recently, but Camicia was unaware of the circumstances surrounding their departures.
“We have no plans to close any office,” Camicia said, referring to talk of consolidation plans.
Charter’s first order of business involves engineering work.
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