It's Pittsfield turn next

On Tuesday, Charter Spectrum will establish an all-digital signal in Pittsfield, something that it previously established in South County in December and for Northern Berkshire customers last week.

Charter Spectrum is switching to all-digital across the country in order to encrypt its signal, which means that subscribers will no longer be able to view programs by connecting their televisions directly to the cable.

That means viewers will need a separate cable decoder box for each television they own. Without a separate box, their TVs will receive nothing but blank screens.

Not only will the Digital signal be a change, but certain channels will too.

Pittsfield Community Television's three community access channels — public, education and government currently available on channels 16-18 and 19-1 through 19-3 — will be located solely on channels 1301, 1302 and 1303 once the switch to all-digital takes place.

The Berkshire Eagle reports that PCTV's Executive Director Shawn Serre said:

"What that means is they're preventing digital signals through their cable system from being picked up in the open, so they can only be coded with their boxes," referring to encryption. "If you were to connect a cable directly to your TV, there were still a bunch of channels that you could pick up, but by putting all of them only on a digital signal, they can only be received by a box."


The spokeswoman for Charter Communications, Spectrum's parent company, Heidi Vandenbrouck said, The all-digital upgrade removes analog signals and adds capacity to the cable network that allows users to obtain even faster internet speeds and give customers more high definition, and On Demand programming. It will also set the stage for future innovations,

So is this fair to the consumer?

In December, South Berkshire communities wired for Spectrum asked the state attorney general to intervene in their converter box controversy with the cable television provider.

Most customers will be eligible to receive at least one free box for a limited amount of time, depending on their programming package.

Once the free period ends, the monthly fee for digital receivers will be $6.99 for those with Spectrum television packages and $11.75 per box for those who have legacy Time-Warner cable packages,

The Attorney General's Office has been monitoring the switch to digital and how it affects Berkshire residents.

Berkshire residents who have complaints can call the Attorney General's Office at 617-727-8400 or file online at

The city will be holding a public hearing at 6 p.m. March 19 at the Berkshire Athenaeum to give city residents the opportunity to provide input about their service before Charter Spectrum officials. Tyer said the city may be able to talk to Charter Spectrum again about moving the public access channels after the public hearing takes place.