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Fans of Chicago sports teams or a number of syndicated shows will have to look elsewhere for that programming if they currently watch WGN through Shentel Cable in Bedford.
On April 5, Shentel is set to drop the Chicago-based channel from its programming lineup.
“I think it’s a loss of service without any notification of how they’re going to replace it,” Bedford City Manager Charles Kolakowski said of the change. “I know they’re making some improvements, but this is a step back.”
Kolakowski has been in touch with Shentel company officials because the city was not properly notified about the change, he said. The city did receive a letter on March 7 that some systems would be dropping WGN, but Bedford was not included on the list it received.
Shentel is also supposed to notify its customers of the change either through a direct mailing to them or through the media. Shentel, however, did neither of those specifically to the Bedford area, though David Ferguson, vice president of customer services with the company, did say a notice was published in the Franklin News Post which serves Franklin County.
“WGN is an expensive channel (to carry),” Ferguson said.
Because the station is considered a distant broadcast station, he said the cable company has to pay an additional premium charge through the Federal Communications Commission to carry it. That cost, he said, became too much to justify carrying the channel.
Ferguson said most of those who watched WGN in this area did so for the sports programming available on it. WGN carries Chicago-based football, basketball and baseball sports events. “In Bedford we carry six (other) sports specific channels,” he said, adding that a total of nine channels offered through Shentel Cable here carry some sports programming.
He said additional sports only channels could be added in the future.
Ferguson said the change was made as its contract to carry WGN expired. He said upgrades continue to be made to the system. “We’ve owned the system for less than a year,” he said of Shentel’s purchase of JetBroadband. “Hopefully our customers will be pleased with the end product.”