Cable company officials realize gay TV channel never got activated on demand service when they took over operation from Comcast
Time Warner Cable has resurrected Here! after a technical problem left the gay TV channel inaccessible on the local cable company’s demand service for about 10 days.
Gary Underwood, communications director for the company’s North Texas Division, said officials realized the problem existed after receiving multiple complaints from irate viewers. Customer service agents told viewers in error that the service was unavailable because the company lacked contracts to offer the channels.
Time Warner Cable took over Dallas cable service from Comcast Corp. on Aug. 1. Comcast offered the gay TV channels Here! and Logo on demand service, which allows viewers to pay a special fee to watch a selection. Time Warner lacks a contract with Logo, but it had one with Here!.
“Here! was there,” Underwood said. “It just wasn’t accessible. The button that provides the pathway to the Here! video on demand service was not activated after we rebuilt those menus.”
Underwood said when officials realized what had happened they reprogrammed the pathway and viewers were immediately able to purchase the content through the Here! menu.
Underwood said customer service agents provided incorrect information to viewers because of confusion created by the changeover of cable companies.
“We had a number of video on demand content contracts that became null and void when we started because we did not have what Comcast had,” Underwood said. “I think initially if there was a question about a video on demand service that they believed it was a reference to a contractual issue and thought that was why it was not available.”
Underwood said the cable company’s marketing staff is now in discussion with Logo executives in an effort to secure a contract to distribute it on a digital channel.
“Hopefully, we will have that for distribution on a digital tier at some point in the future,” Underwood said.
Michael Milliken, a longtime Dallas cable customer, said he received a call from Underwood apologizing for the confusion and explaining what had happened.
Milliken had decided to switch from cable service to a satellite service so he could receive the gay TV channels after a customer service agent told him there would no longer be access.
“I told him it was too late,” Milliken said. “My main reaction was to let him know that he needs to communicate with his corporate service desk people so they know how answer these calls and they know what is going on.”
A call to the cable company’s customer service department Thursday revealed the confusion is ongoing. An agent told a viewer that Here! was never available through Comcast and is not available through Time Warner now.
Underwood said he was disappointed to learn that viewers are still getting incorrect information from the customer service department.
“I have to hope it is an isolated incident,” Underwood said. “They’ve been given the information.”
Underwood said he planned to “escalate” the education of the customer service agents about Here!
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 18, 2006.
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