September 28, 2018

Senators Warren, Markey, and Rep. Neal Introduce Legislation to Restore WCVB and WWLP Television Channels to the Berkshires

Charter removed WWLP TV in April 2017 and WCVB TV in June 2018

Boston, MA – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, along with Congressman Richard E. Neal (MA-01), today introduced new federal legislation that will force the cable company Charter to engage in good faith negotiations with WWLP and WCVB to bring those stations back on the air in Berkshire County.  Specifically, the bill authorizes a cable operator (Charter) to transmit any station that was retransmitted to viewers on December 1, 2016, including WWLP and WCVB, to subscribers in the Albany Designated Market Area (DMA), which includes Berkshire County, and forces Charter and the stations to negotiate carriage. The bill also preserves Berkshire County residents’ access to Albany, New York stations that provide relevant weather updates and important emergency information.

“Berkshire County residents deserve programming that is relevant to their community and allows them to stay up-to-date on political affairs, follow their favorite sports teams, and keep up-to-date on important weather and emergency alerts,” said Senator Warren. “I’m glad to work with my Massachusetts colleagues on a bill to help to reintroduce local programming to the Berkshires.”

“Local broadcast television allows viewers in the Berkshires to follow their favorite sports teams, stay informed about local government, and keep connected to communities across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Markey. “It’s unacceptable that they have lost access to vital local information. We cannot allow Charter to take local stations off the air, continue to shrug its shoulders, and maintain the status quo. This legislation rights this wrong and will help get Massachusetts stations back on the air.”

“I strongly believe that Berkshire County cable subscribers should be able to access local television programming and that is why I am introducing legislation in the U.S. House today to fix this matter,” said Congressman Neal. “The people of western Massachusetts want to view regional news, get emergency alerts, be advised of severe weather, and watch religious broadcasting. And since its football season, they also want to be able to tune in to the New England Patriots. I believe this problem known as ‘regional disenfranchisement’ can be resolved, and I intend to work with my colleagues and communications stakeholders to get it done.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

In May, the Massachusetts lawmakers sent letters to Charter Communications and Hearst Television expressing concerns about the ongoing business dispute between the two parties.