Cable viewers lose access to gay TV

Posted on 10 Aug 2006 at 8:03pm
By David Webb Staff Writer

Time Warner Cable lacks contracts for Logo, Here!



Michael Milliken

When Time Warner Cable took over the local cable system from Comcast Corp. on Aug. 1, the changeover left a lot of LGBT viewers fuming.

They quickly realized the cable system’s demand service, which allows viewers to pay a special fee to watch a selection, no longer offered selections from the gay TV channels Here! and Logo. Customer service agents told the viewers that Time Warner Cable lacked contracts to offer the gay entertainment.

“I was really shocked,” said Michael Milliken, a community activist and a former member of the city’s board overseeing cable access. “The customer service woman didn’t know anything about it. She didn’t even know what the channels were and had to look it up.”

Dallas resident Frank Walker said he was similarly surprised when he discovered the channels missing from the cable company’s demand service. He was kept on hold for five minutes while customer service agents researched what happened to the channels, only to learn it would no longer be available, he said.

Walker said he has spent a year asking Comcast officials to add Here! and Logo to the cable company’s regular channel lineup so he would not have to pay a special fee to watch them.

“I think this is kind of a setback,” Walker said. “All of that campaigning did me absolutely no good. I want my gay TV.”

Gary Underwood, communications director for Time Warner Cable’s North Texas Division, said the company was unable to continue offering the channels because it had no contracts with the channel’s operators. It also was unable to offer Nickelodeon, he added.

“We didn’t have a contract to put that on the video on demand side and deliver that to our customers,” Underwood said. “The good news is we are talking with the network about possible future carriage.”

The cable company is planning to offer several new channels, Underwood said.

“This could happen very shortly,” Underwood said.

Milliken said he has complained to the offices of Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and City Council members Ed Oakley, Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano.

Milliken said he believes city officials’ influence could make a difference as to whether Time Warner Cable makes gay channels available.

“This is a monopoly franchise granted by the City of Dallas,” Milliken said.

In the meantime, Milliken said he is not waiting. A satellite dish will be installed at his house today, he said.

“I’ve had cable since the 1980s when I was on the cable board, but I can switch,” Milliken said. “I’m switching to Dish. They’ve got Logo. They’ve got Here!”

Walker said he considered switching but isn’t ready to yet.

“I just don’t want to get a satellite because it goes out in bad weather,” Walker said.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 11, 2006.

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