Updated March 29, 2018 12:05am
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2016
‘Olelo put on a full-court press in its campaign to block Spectrum’s plan. Along the way, it won backing from all corners of the state. “Thanks to all of them, our local community-access media has been safeguarded for the next 18 years,” Sanford Inouye, president and CEO of ‘Olelo, said in a statement.
There will be no “channel-slamming” of ‘Olelo Community Media after all.
The Cable Television Division of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs issued a decision and order keeping ‘Olelo’s community-access channels in their current locations until 2036, it was announced Wednesday.
The DCCA’s March 23 order came following negotiations with Charter Communications, parent company of Spectrum, which signed off on an agreement to maintain the current channel numbers.
“After extensive discussions, we are pleased to come to an agreement that protects and preserves public access channels for Hawaii and its residents,” DCCA Director Catherine P. Awakuni Colón said in a news release.
Spectrum previously had said it was moving ‘Olelo’s community-access channels to higher-numbered channels as part of its effort to upgrade its system to all digital.
But ‘Olelo fought back against what has been called “channel-slamming” in a community campaign that described the new channels as difficult to find and jettisoned to “digital Siberia.”
‘Olelo and its supporters argued that the move would impose significant hardship on local community producers and viewers.
The nonprofit even went to Oahu Circuit Court on March 12 before obtaining a temporary restraining order March 19 to prevent the channel change, which was set to start Tuesday.
‘Olelo put on a full-court press in its campaign to block Spectrum’s plan. Along the way, it won backing from all corners of the state, including Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, state legislators, the Honolulu City Council, all four county mayors, neighborhood boards, local program producers and hundreds in the community.
“Thanks to all of them, our local community-access media has been safeguarded for the next 18 years,” Sanford Inouye, president and CEO of ‘Olelo, said in a statement.
The community-access programs will continue on channels 49, 53, 54 and 55 on Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom, as well as in high definition on 1049 and 1053 on Telcom.
Spectrum started the all-digital network upgrade on Oahu on Tuesday, the company said, and the process will continue for several months, with Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island upgrading throughout the summer.
Spectrum says the upgrade will offer better picture quality, 70 more high-definition channels, additional content and new features.
“All-digital sets the stage for even faster internet speeds and further innovation for our Spectrum customers in Hawaii,” company spokesman Dennis Johnson said in an email.
Much of the upgrade, including the digital transformation, was mandated when the DCCA approved the transfer of Oceanic Time Warner Cable LLC’s six cable franchises to Charter Communications two years ago.
But the proposed movement of the public-access channels went too far, the DCCA suggested in its Decision and Order No. 372.
The written and oral comments received by DCCA from the public, the legislators and various government officials all strongly opposed the relocation of the channels, the document said.
In issuing the order, the DCCA director considered, among other things, the issues and costs involved in having to rebrand for the new channels, and the costs and impacts of the potential litigation, the order said.