Cable’s attempts to reclaim bandwidth has drawn the attention of Congress. House Commerce chmn John Dingell (D-MI) is concerned over Comcast’s decision to require MI subs after Jan 15 to rent a set-top in order to view PEG channels. The move frees up analog bandwidth for advanced services, such as HD and DOCSIS 3.0. Several operators have instituted similar moves, with Bright House moving Tampa’s PEG channels to 100+ spots earlier this month and requiring subs to pay $1/month for a box to view them. Comcast will offer the boxes free for the 1st year for 1 TV. Additional TVs will need to lease a STB. “Your intent to charge consumers as much as an additional $4.20 a month per television set to receive PEG channels is plainly inconsistent with Congressional intent that PEG channels be made available ‘at the lowest reasonable rate,'” Dingell wrote in a letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Fri. He gave the MSO until Jan 7 to respond. Comcast said it looks forward to working with Dingell on the issue, noting that most of its competitors (including AT&T and DBS) either don’t carry PEG channels or, if they do, require consumers to have digital boxes to receive them. “With the proposed changes, Michigan customers will be able to access Public, Education & Government (PEG) programming in uniform channel locations across the state, receive those channels in a high-quality digital format, and see even more programming variety, such as new HD channels,” a Comcast spokeswoman said. Dingell doesn’t want PEG channels treated differently from local broadcast channels, both of which are required to be part of Comcast’s basic tier of service.

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