Cablevision of Litchfield faces picture quality inquiry (1 Viewer)

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The state Department of Public Utility Control is conducting an informal inquiry into a complaint against Cablevision of Litchfield over picture quality.

The complaint, issued by the Cable Television Advisory Council of Torrington, states the organization is receiving "many complaints on picture quality" from Cablevision subscribers and asks the DPUC to establish a Quality of Picture standard for compressed MPEG video. MPEG, or Moving Picture Experts Group, is the standard for compressing and storing video electronically.

New standards are needed because existing standards do not address the "quantum leaps" in cable television transmittal capabilities made over the past few years, council Chairman John Luciano said in a March 10 letter to the DPUC. Those leaps include the arrival of high-definition television and digital transmissions, he said.

The complaint will be handled as an informal probe while letters seeking further information and clarification are sent to Cablevision, the advisory council, and the New England Cable Television Association, a trade group, said Beryl Lyons, a DPUC spokeswoman.

The DPUC will decide whether to assign a docket number to the case and launch a formal investigation after it has an opportunity to review the information it receives in response to its letters, Lyons said Friday.

"I can assure you we are not ignoring this matter," she said. "This is not something that's going to be pushed back into some dark corner somewhere."

The letters requesting comments and information are expected to be in the mail by next week, she said.

Advisory council member Stephen Simonin of Litchfield suspects Cablevision is running its local cable system at signal levels that are lower than minimum Federal Communications Commission requirements.

Simonin also feels the company is "overcompressing" its digital signal in an effort to create room for Internet protocol, or IP, voice and data transmissions, and that the overcompression seriously degrades the signal quality.

Simonin said he brought the issue before the advisory council after noticing poor picture quality in his own home, such as blurred images, poor color quality or audio and video that were not quite in sync with each other.

In a Jan. 26 letter to the DPUC, Cablevision Vice President Deborah L. Hutton said the company's cable system "has been designed and is operated above the FCC requirements," and that "FCC rules demand that cable operators adhere to a variety of signal quality and related standards."

Hutton said the FCC requires operators to conduct regular testing to demonstrate compliance.

She also noted that Cablevision "has every incentive in the current competitive environment to ensure its subscribers receive good signal quality, particularly with respect to digital signals."

Attempts to reach Hutton on Friday for further comments were unsuccessful.

Cablevision has more than 26,000 subscribers in its Litchfield franchise area, which includes Cornwall, Goshen, Litchfield, Morris, Thomaston, Torrington, Warren and Watertown.

Cablevision, which employs about 600 people in the state, provides cable services to an additional 220,000 Connecticut residents in Fairfield and New Haven counties through its Cablevision of Connecticut and Cablevision Systems of Southern Connecticut franchises.

The company is scheduled to file a statement with the DPUC requesting the renewal of its Litchfield franchise in the next few months.

http://www.rep-am.com/story.php?id=4634
 

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