The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 10, 2013

Cable change criticized: Decision to drop Pittsburgh station brings complaints

JOHNSTOWN — KDKA’s main television signal is broadcast atop Pittsburgh’s Observatory Hill neighborhood, nearly 70 miles from Johnstown.

But the station has been carried locally for decades.

That will change on Friday.  

Atlantic Broadband says must drop the channel because of rising costs to carry it. The move has angered a number of local residents who say they will lose their main source for Pittsburgh sports, news and other Western Pa.-focused programming, even while the area’s Altoona-Johnstown CBS affiliate, WTAJ, will remain on the air-waves.

“KDKA has the best local sports coverage in western Pennsylvania,” Johnstown resident Debbie Chuba wrote to The Tribune-Democrat, saying she relies on in-depth coverage from Johnstown’s closest major city.  

“I am infuriated,” Ron D. Korber of Davidsville added.

Atlantic Broadband Chief Operating Officer David Dane said the decision to drop KDKA wasn’t easy.

In recent years, the cost to carry KDKA “nearly doubled,” he wrote, saying it forced the cable operator’s hand.

KDKA is owned by the CBS Network.

More HD channels will be added in its place, Dane said. And CBS favorites such as Sunday Steeler games, “Survivor,” “NCIS” and “The Amazing Race” will be aired by Atlantic Broadband to all cable subscribers through the WTAJ signal.

Chuba and other local residents vented that Johnstown is being robbed of cable competition.

But Atlantic Broadband’s role as the lone cable provider for the Johnstown region is far from rare in other cities across the nation, even though the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates broadcast communications has taken steps as recently as 2007 to encourage more competition among cable providers.

Cities, boroughs, townships and other municipalities are given the rights to bid on and negotiate franchise rights to their territories. For example, Richland Township entered into a 10-year agreement in April 2009 that allows Atlantic Broadband to serve Richland and maintain its lines for 5 percent of the profit generated from the area, their contract shows.

In 2012, that meant more than $180,000 in revenue to the township, township records show.

But efforts to seek other bidders to compete for franchise rights end up luring one bidder  – the current provider, local officials said.

“The companies all have their territories cut out and they respect each other’s,” said state Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Patton.

Haluska, in office since 1995, said during that time he’s never heard of a Pennsylvania effort to encourage more cable competition.

Part of that reason, local officials speculate, is because companies entrenched in their areas spend plenty of money maintaining cable lines and the system used to broadcast programming into homes and businesses.  Anyone else want-ing to do the same would have to use that company’s lines, too.

Still, TV owners have several options locally for channel-surfing needs.

Satellite providers such as DirectTV and Dish Network have become major players in the market, and phone companies like Verizon have also started offering cable packages.

In KDKA’s case, there are some alternatives for area viewers.

In addition to WTAJ’s programming, viewers can find some of KDKA-exclusive television on the CW Network, including early morning and 10 p.m. nightly news.

Some area viewers can also receive KDKA over the air through personal HD antennas, depending on their locations.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • District Deaths April 21, 2014

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads