Q: "Where can I find City of West Hollywood government and access channels?"
A: All of the City's Cable Access channels are available on Charter Spectrum cable and AT&T U-verse. Access our Bulletin Board on Spectrum channel 6, Government Access and meetings on Spectrum channel 10, and Public Access on Spectrum channel 36. To access these channels on AT&T U-verse, navigate to channel 99 and select the station you want from the menu. The available stations are listed alphabetically, so West Hollywood will be near the bottom. WeHoTV Government Access channel is also streamed live via the internet, and can be accessed on your desktop or mobile device at www.weho.org/wehotv.
Q: "What does the City do with regard to cable TV?"
A: Cable television companies need a franchise to run their cables over and under the public right of way, such as city streets. Currently, the State of California holds the franchise for all of the cable TV services in West Hollywood. In exchange for this franchise, the City receives certain fees and services, such as the use of channels for public, educational and government (PEG) access. The City’s regulatory authority with regard to cable television is limited by state and federal laws and regulations. For example, the City cannot set the rates that the cable company charges.
Q: "Why did the City grant a monopoly to the cable company?"
A: Until recently, in most places there has been only one cable TV company, however this is NOT because of any exclusive contract or arrangement with local or state government. Only in a few cases have cable companies competed directly in the same area. Newer technology companies have set up competing services in some parts of the country, but this has not gone very far. More recently the two major telephone companies - AT&T and Verizon - have been setting up television services to compete with the incumbent cable TV service. AT&T, the telephone company that services West Hollywood, has been expanding their TV service (called U-Verse) in southern California, but it's not clear when they will complete installation in West Hollywood.
Q: "Why is there a City Hall telephone number on my cable bill?"
A: The City has set up a Cable TV Customer Assistance service as part of our Cable Television office. (This office also operates WeHoTV and other City Access channels.) The cable company puts the phone number for this service, (323) 848-6536 and the City Hall mailing address on the bill so that you can contact us for assistance. However, this is not the number for the cable company and we do not have access to your account information. If you have technical or billing problems, please call the cable company customer service number, (844) 799-7883 first.
Q: "Isn't cable TV a utility like electricity and telephone service?"
A: Cable television is not considered a utility. Utilities are heavily regulated by the state of California because they are considered essential for health and safety. Cable television is primarily regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as they do with over-the-air TV. The relationship of cable TV with state and local government only exists because of the use of the public right of way. Satellite TV companies deliver a similar service, but do not use the public right of way, and are not regulated by state and local governments.
Q: "What about internet services?"
A: Under federal law and federal court rulings, connection to the Internet is not regulated by any level of government. This is the case even when this service uses the same cables and equipment as the cable TV service.
Q: "Are there discounts available for seniors or disabled customers?"
A: Charter Spectrum does not offer discounts specifically for seniors, low income families, or those who are disabled.
Q: "Why are there so many foreign-language channels on the cable?"
A: Under federal law, television stations may require compensation for a cable company to carry their signal. This is called "retransmission consent." Generally only the most popular stations, such as network affiliates, can get the cable company to pay this, so the same law offers smaller television stations a "must carry" option where they don't get compensation from the cable company but the cable company must include their service on the cable TV system. The effect of this is that the cable company must carry all local, licensed, full-power broadcast stations. Many of these stations serve the diverse population of the Los Angeles area, including those for whom English is not their primary language.
Q: "Why does cable television have so many commercials?"
A: Most cable television programming services (for example, MTV, CNN or Network) are paid for in two ways - fees they charge the cable company, who then includes the cost in the cable rate, and by selling commercial time. Cable companies also sell local commercial time. In some cases a large amount of commercial time is sold to offset the lower number of viewers - and therefore the lower rate for commercial time - that each channel has.