MANCHESTER, NH – On Tuesday night, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen conveyed a message from their constituents to Comcast Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs Bryan Christiansen: Nous voulons la television Canadienne-Française. Okay, well, they may not have said it in French, but it was pretty clear that they let him know Manchester wants its French-Canadian television back.
The matter of returning CKSH, a French-language CBC affiliate from Sherbrooke, Quebec, back into Manchester Comcast customer’s homes, was on the agenda after a letter from Ward 9 Alderman Jim Burkush in September stating that he and other Aldermen had received complaints about its removal from the Comcast lineup in recent months.
Burkush told Christiansen that elderly and disabled French speakers were concerned about losing programming such as Catholic Mass broadcasts in French.
Ward 2 Alderman Will Stewart echoed these sentiments. While Christiansen indicated that on-demand French content and other streaming content from other sources that CKSH were being provided, Stewart said this was not good enough, stating that many older residents are not tech-savvy and they might have problems accessing this new content.
“For these folks, they are native French speakers and they are among us. This is their lifeline and they are still here in the city,” he said.
Christiansen said the move had come due to only a few dozen people actually watching the channel regularly, and it had become an expense not worth keeping given the limited reach of CKSH’s broadcasting power. He prefaced these statements by reminding the board that Comcast employs hundreds of people in Manchester and engages in regular charity efforts.
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said that she believes she had heard complaints from more than a few dozen people and urged Christiansen to ask Comcast to reconsider.
Alderman At-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur wondered if it would be possible to provide some CKSH content on the city’s public access channels after Christiansen indicated that local governments are federally prohibited from telling cable companies what channels they must carry.
The discussion concluded with a comment from Ward 5 Alderman Anthony Sapienza, voicing frustration with what he believed were deceptive sales practices from Comcast.