Why does the cable company switch channels on us?

I dunno. I just don’t see any real reason for this. We’ve got roughly 70+ channels here in Central WI and they like to shake things up and move them around on us once every two years or so (channel 72 used to be Comedy Central, now CC’s on 37; channel 36 used to be eMpTV now it’s on 34, etc.).

I don’t understand why they move them and even how they decide to arrange them. I’d think they’d group the channels by category or something, and sometimes they do (eMpTV and VH1 are 34 & 35 right now). But even easy connections like C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 are almost 60 channels away. And they don’t even follow a corporate scheme (those godawful Turner channels are all over the place).

People who surf the cable tend to start at Channel 1 and go up. Consequently, low number placement is valuable and the more popular (read expensive to the cable operator) programming gets the lower numbers. Some providers demand it, some pay for it.

Also, cable channels may be split up according to whether they are part of Basic or Extended or Premium packages. If CSPAN and CSPAN2 are parts of different packages,they will be separated.

And sometimes they just do it because they are in league with the devil.

Lex Non Favet Delicatorum Votis

Actually, we have a Dish down here…

Yer pal,

Your cable company maybe upgrading thier systems is why all the changes.

The reason is because your city makes a renewable contract with the cable comp for a certain number of channels for a certain rate [you should read your cable notices & the newspaper & city news]. What channels they get depends on what your city lets them have as well as customer comments & new technology.

Mr. Sheepshead: Looking at your profile, I’m guessing that you live in one of the old Marcus systems that just got bought by Charter. Is this the case? I’ll have differing answers depending on who your cable provider is/was. Thanx.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

Actually, the basic reason the CABLE COMPANY GODS switch channels on us is BECAUSE THEY CAN and we cannot do a darn thing about it. After all, they cleverly took a sting of ordinary channels, split them up into BASIC and EXPANDED BASIC cable. On Basic, one gets a host of annoyingly dull stations with one or two interesting ones just to keep the buyer from suiciding too quickly. Then, they dumped a bunch of fairly interesting stations into Extended Basic, which, for a small, ADDITIONAL FEE, one can have added on to keep from going bonkers.

In short, they give you what you used to get for free. Only, you pay for it. Of course, all of the ‘good’ stations could have been lumped into Basic Cable, but then no one would order the Extended Basic, and they would not be able to charge you more money.

Toss in the movie channels, like HBO, STARZ, CINIMAX and ENCORE, for which you pay an additional fee, and they have got you! With their clever system they can tap into your converter and see if you are sneaking unpaid for, scrambled stations or have managed to somehow to get some tier of cable not paid for and scramble it all for you.

Aside from the cable television providers being illegal, but somehow accepted, monopolies – only one per city or service area – they also managed to push through a law which makes cable stealing a felony. Now, I find that amusing, for Joe drunk can come up and pound you into a bloody pulp and so long as he does not use a weapon, it is not a felony, though it does much more expensive harm and damage than stealing cable does. To YOU, that is. Not to the cable company. (I figure they must have spent MILLIONS in ‘gifts’ to congressmen in order to get that law passed through faster than s**t through a goose.)

So, just remember, the cable companies are unjust, selfish and greedy, just like the oil companies. Both can do as they please to us without fear of retribution.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”

Well, to begin with, you can cancel your cable. You can go with a dish, or in some places your phone company offers cable TV services. Or you can not watch at all.

Yes, how dare providers expect payment for their products?! Philistines!

I can get cable from Cox, Cablevision or Ameritech where I live. BTW, just why exactly would they be illegal? How many power and gas companies are you allowed to choose from, and do you understand why?

Let’s see . . . under Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter V-A, Part 4, Sec. 553:

Unauthorized reception of cable service

(a) Unauthorized interception or receipt or assistance in intercepting or receiving service; ‘‘assist in intercepting or
receiving’’ defined

(1) No person shall intercept or receive or assist in intercepting or receiving any communications service offered over a cable system, unless specifically authorized to do so by a cable operator or as may otherwise be specifically authorized by law.

(2) For the purpose of this section, the term ‘‘assist in intercepting or receiving’’ shall include the manufacture or distribution of equipment intended by the manufacturer or distributor (as the case may be) for unauthorized reception of any communications service offered over a cable system in violation of subparagraph (1).

(b) Penalties for willful violation

(1) Any person who willfully violates subsection (a)(1) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both.

(2) Any person who violates subsection (a)
(1) of this section willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned for not more than 2 years, or both, for the first such offense and shall be fined not more than $100,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for any subsequent offense.

(3) For purposes of all penalties and remedies established for violations of subsection (a)(1) of this section, the prohibited activity established herein as it applies to each such device shall be deemed a separate violation.

Uh, actually, that depends on some other circumstances too.

Yes, everything should be free.

“Argue with what I said, not what you think or hope I said.” - Me

Dammit, PL! I had a first class rant ready to go. Took me about forever to compose. Then I hit “refresh” and see your masterpiece.

I hate it when that happens.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

That’ll teach ya, manhattan, never, ever under any circumstances hit “refresh”! :slight_smile:

manhattan: Nice investigating and yes our system was just bought out by Charter. They did some upgrades around town but that was a while ago. I sort of thought that that might be the problem, but it seems to me that they’ve done this to us before for no good reason anyway (no hardware upgrades, buy-outs, etc.).

As for organization, they give us the “basic” (read: local) channels plus C-SPAN on channels 2-14. Then the “extended” (or some such moniker) package is channels 15-99, minus 50-55 which are PPV, and 55-67ish for HBO, Cinemax, etc. And then there’s a porn channel jammed in at 78 or so. Oh plus channel 99/1 is some community service type channel (I think it’s the high school’s). Not mention the fact that we don’t even have anything on channels 80ish-97, but lo and behold there’s C-SPAN2 on channel 98!

Regardless, why the hell do they keep moving these damned things?! They’ve adhered roughly to the above structure (2-14 basic, 50-99 extended minus the movie channels) for the last two or so upgrades, but have moved the channels around in their own little “sections”.

OK: The reasons:

Many cable programmers will pay (or reduce the amount the cable company pays them) for better channel slots. Some mega-programmers will sell “suites” of channels, with the proviso that this one or that one gets a channel below 20. The “must-have” basic channels (ESPN, for example) just won’t sell to a channel below 30, and really beat the service provider to do better than that. Channel realignments are the result of this negotiation.

Many of the large cable companies have their own investments in programming (yours, not so much). You won’t be surprised to learn that “owned” programming often gets preference over “leased” programming when the channel lineups get made.

There’s a marketing issue. Beyond trying to maximize revenue (or cut costs) from programming suppliers, the cable company mostly wants to maximize revenue from you. If one of their databases finds that systems with the Whatever Channel have a lower churn (disconnects as a percentage of customers) or higher penetration (customers as a percentage of homes “passed” by the cable plant), they will give serious thought to a channel realignment.

Finally, in addition to all of the other reasons, Charter is in the process of consolidating headends in your area. (For the unfamiliar, the “headend” is the place where the cable company picks up its programming by satellite, microwave and traditional over-the-air, boosts the signal, and sends it to your house. The brains of the system, as it were) Specifically, they plan to reduce the number of headends in their “North Central Region” (Their WI systems and a little guy in Rosemont, MN) from 86 to 56 by the end of ’01. This is most likely the reason for your most recent realignment.

Why reduce headends? Well, to lower operating costs first and foremost. But having each headend serve a larger number of customers allows Charter more economically to offer other services such as internet access, enhanced interactive television, expanded PPV and (eventually) telephony. And as part of the consolidation process, they are clearing swaths of bandwidth over which to offer these services.

At any rate, they lower operating costs most to the extent that they can send the signals out on the same channels as often as possible. So perhaps they consolidated your headend, or changed the channels in preparation for such a consolidation. Unfortunately, as the other posters have pointed out, that is no guarantee that it won’t happen again.

Paul Allen of MSFT fame is the main guy at Charter. He created the company with a series of purchases over the past 2 years and now owns the fourth largest cable company in the country. He hopes to implement what he calls a “wired world” strategy wherein that little piece of coaxial cable coming into your house will be able to handle essentially all of your entertainment, information and commerce needs.

FWIIW, Charter is on the road now trying to raise about $3B in an initial public offering. For legal reasons, I have nothing to say about that, but I thought I ought to disclose it.
www.chartercom.com , BTW.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

Heh… Paul Allen… as if Microsoft hasn’t made my life hellish enough already. If my TV ever locks up on me I swear…